With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were accidentally installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circle of hydraulic resistance machines designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use body weight and fitness levels to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing With the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
Amateur and professional fighters and martial artists comprise the staff at Perez Fighting Systems, led by Gene and Derek. Along with striking coach Ken Harding, they focus on fitness in classes, clinics, and sparring sessions for students of all ages and ability levels, with special courses designed for women and kids.
Internationally acclaimed dancer Amaya isn't regretful of her romantic impulse to run away and join the circus, a decision that sparked her notable and diverse career. The passionate performer was awarded Dancer of the Year by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance in 1998, and her documentary _Gypsy Fire_—which explores Spanish gypsy dancing—earned Amaya a Giza Award. Now, she channels more than 30 years of teaching experience and knowledge of several international dances, including Mexican folk, African, and a rare form of hot potato, into her dance classes. During these sessions, she overhauls boring cardio routines with basic belly-dancing techniques and Danza Mora moves—a marriage of Arabic and Spanish gypsy dance—which she infuses with cultural insights, inspiring philosophies, and nutrition advice. She also hosts women-only dance retreats to distant locales, during which she grants participants one-on-one dance training, spiritual guidance, and other opportunities such as the chance to observe a private Native American ceremonial harvest dance.
Amaya also believes in empowering young girls and women to reach their full potential. A portion of her DVD sales benefit The Girl Effect, a charity dedicated to empowering women and fighting for equal rights across the globe.
Certified massage therapist and healing artist Kerry Leigh traces her specialty in core synchronism back to the system’s developer, Robert Stevens, who first trained her to assist nature with techniques that promote inner-organism harmony. Kerry honed her massage skills as a backstage therapist at rock concerts, as the founder of the Odwalla Juice Company's on-site massage therapy program, and with the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health before starting her own practice at Actualize Your Health.
These days, Leigh and a team of therapists connect minds and bodies with cellular nutrition, aromatherapy with essential oils, and natural flower essences selected for their health-giving vibrational energy. Their background in athletics gives them a firsthand look at what hardworking muscles and spirits need to recover after grueling workouts or fisticuffs with inner demons.
Owner and instructor Julia Bowen spent more than a decade investigating anti-aging methods, natural healing, and movement of energy through the body before discovering the marriage of all three in yoga. Investigating yoga resulted in a new passion, which prompted her to open Yoga by Julia, enabling her to share yoga with others.
Julia's staff of 5 yoga instructors fill the week with a variety of levels of yoga class, from beginner to advanced, some sessions tailored to specific goals. The friendly teachers are knowledgeable, supportive, have undergone advanced training, and strive to make all classes fun and approachable. They supplement their schedule with the core-reforming regimens of Pilates and Yoga Sculpt, a vigorous class that combines cardio, yoga, and weight-lifting. All classes take place within their hardwood-floored studio, amid the sparkling light of sunshine and the bright glow of paper lanterns.