As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Rick Martinez began his career as a registered nurse, working in emergency rooms across the country to help patients overcome intense physical traumas. However, it was during an 18-month tour of service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that Rick encountered the mother of a wounded soldier who changed his aspirations in life. Her indomitable spirit and the bravery with which she supported her son through his pain and recovery inspired Rick. Fully intent on helping people develop the unflinching resolve needed to better their own lives and well-being, he founded Fitness Porvida—Fitness for Life.
The center’s health gurus lead CrossFit and fitness sessions for students of virtually any fitness level, using functional exercises to create challenging, full-body workouts that build the strength and endurance necessary for students to bench-press their bathtubs. Yet physical exercise isn’t the only tool that the trainers employ—they also use nutritional guidance and camaraderie to empower their clients. Rick summarized this approach to the San Antonio Business Journal in 2010, saying, “when we treat the body as a whole the results are fantastic.”
The Union's instructors like to remind their students that for every expert yogi, there was a first class. They hold on to this humble philosophy at three studios, where high temperatures help both old hands and newcomers stay limber. The staff cautions their students against aiming for perfection during the 90-minute courses; instead maintaining that, by simply trying each of the 26 postures and two breathing exercises, bodies and minds achieve the maximum benefit.
To highlight the value of consistent practice, they encourage visitors to take the 60-day challenge, which charges students to attend one class every day for 60 days. Those who accomplish this task are immortalized by writing their name on the Challenge Wall, which doubles as the police force's superhero directory. The studios also honor individuals in their class community with the yogi of the month feature, a series of interviews with students about their Bikram yoga practice.
Pilates Authentica's Cecilia Dominguez may not have studied Pilates directly under its founder, Joseph Pilates, but she came pretty close. Working at a scant distance of one remove from the legendary exercise engineer, she studied with his former protégé, Romana Kryzanowska and her daughter. Under the two acolytes, Cecilia learned Pilates the way the original plyometric pioneer intended, and she continues that same tradition at her studio, where she leads private and group lessons. She follows his philosophies and exercises to the letter, helping her students reap the slew of benefits that Pilates has to offer: boosted energy and circulation, increased flexibility, decreased stress, and posture straighter than a protractor that saw a ghost.
After passing through Divine Yoga’s entrance, the hot Texas sun fades into lush, flowery gardens. Inside, a swaying porch swing greets guests before they reach the airy studio, where the earthy aroma of a natural oak floor kindles memories of swimming in a vat of red wine. Seated on a stage framed by lavender walls and wafting white curtains, KRI-certified instructors lead students through Kundalini yoga classes that aim to increase physical and spiritual energy through various postures, breathing techniques, and gong meditation. In Pre-Natal classes, moms-to-be can relax and stretch before their big arrivals, after which Post-Natal classes invite babies to join in and hone the focus, relaxation, and flexibility required to back-flip out of the crib.
Dancers, black belts, and trained yoga gurus, the instructors at The Synergy Studios come from all walks of life. They each bring a different approach to overall wellness to the school. Classes take place in the historic Pearl brewery in studios with soaring cathedral ceilings and honey-hued hardwood floors.
Zumba sessions fill the room with the rumble of moving feet and quick breaths. Contented sighs drift out during meditation and yoga courses, which balance physical fitness and relaxation and help contribute to overall wellbeing. Some sessions are designed for particular groups, such as athletes, expecting mothers, and groups who always have to stick together because of what they saw in a mysterious cave.