Many of the instructors at Strong Tower Pilates Studio can personally attest to the physical benefits of Pilates. Two teachers credit the program with relieving their chronic back pains, and owner Kelly Letalien claims the exercise form helped her cope and stay in shape throughout her pregnancy and subsequent recovery. As a registered nurse and rehabilitative specialist, Letalien has also tutored Pilates clients with scoliosis, fibromyalgia, and hip replacements, adjusting her lessons to accommodate, and ultimately help diminish, each guest's condition.
The staff welcomes beginners and accomplished athletes alike to their private and small-group sessions, where they work aboard mats or apparatuses, such as the Reformer, Wunda Chair, and Ladder Barrel. During certain stretches, they distribute props, including foam rollers and wobble disks, which help clients more easily perform moves and prepare for when evolution finally bestows the human race with wheels. By limiting their largest classes to a maximum of eight students, they can modify their workouts according to each visitor's fitness level and give them more focused attention. Between meetings, they strive to cultivate both a clean and welcoming studio atmosphere, scrubbing the equipment with a tea-tree-oil solution and warming tummies with complimentary coffee, tea, or cider.
Sacred Garden Yoga founder Cindy Olah discovered a love for nature growing up in Peru. She’s fused that passion with yoga instruction by leading retreats in the mountains of North Georgia, North Carolina, and back home in Peru. Whether outdoors or within her pastel-green workout studio, Cindy and fellow instructors lead non-competitive sessions that foster lifelong friendships. Their group, private, and prenatal sessions emphasize proper body alignment and breath work. Students can also discover healing with reiki and reflexology treatments and workshops on subjects such as meditation and painless band-aid removal.
At Marietta Center for Yoga and Well Being, yoga classes represent a fraction of the therapeutic practices offered. Wanda DeVaughn augments private yoga sessions with special techniques, such as chakra focus, which includes meditation to rebalance internal energy, and koshas, which brings awareness to students' five levels of being. Alternatively, Tina Rae teaches the importance of eating well through holistic chef services and nutritional counseling.
The Yoga Room's founder, Lynn Louise Wonders, draws upon 15 years of experience as an instructor of meditation, yoga, tai chi, and chi kung, as well as the skills of five instructors, to guide patrons to improved fitness and repose. A teeming class calendar caters to yogis of all stripes and most plaids. Neophytes can choose from a selection of introductory classes, which will convert woeful recumbent chimp posture into regal warrior poise, while intermediate classes incorporate various elements of Iyengar, Anusara, and Ashtanga disciplines. A selection of specialty classes caters to fragile relaxation seekers, expectant mothers, children, and pretzel impersonators. Vinyasa virtuosos can also delight in discovering the distinct calming motions of tai chi and chi kung at the skilled hands of The Yoga Room's seasoned relaxation wizards.
As a Bikram yoga instructor and studio owner, Naedra Fox's job is to make a 105-degree room with 40% humidity a welcoming space. To do this, she and her fellow teachers made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles to attend the once-yearly instructor certification course taught by Bikram Choudhury. The intensive nine-week apprenticeship focuses on more than merely mastering the 26 poses. Certified Bikram instructors learn how to make their classes a beginner-friendly, nonjudgmental space that still pushes students to expand their limits. Additionally, Naedra strives for an inclusive, family atmosphere. Newcomers nervous about the notoriously sweaty, 90-minute Bikram sessions are free to stretch postures only as far as is comfortable for them.
Glowing neon-red-and-blue wall accents complement the staff members' bright attitudes at American Bodyworks gyms. They strive to make connections with each member, remembering their names and favorite prime numbers, as they guide them through rows of cardio equipment—each with an attached LCD TV screen—and strength-training machines affixed with illustrations on their use. Guests can work out in the daytime hours or swipe their membership key for nighttime access, pushing through free-weight reps while personal trainers sleep inside their resistance-band cocoons.