For a decade, Anne and Matthew Falkowski have been transforming rookie stretchers into professional yogis. The lessons at Samadhi Yoga Studio usher guests, regardless of age, flexibility, or experience, into a community whose leaders emphasize the growth of bodily awareness. The 40 yoga classes per week encompass Beginners, Moderate, and Vigorous sessions, which gradually widen students' understanding of postures and breath work. Rather than spending hundreds of hours searching for inner peace in the national phone book, those yearning for further enlightenment can attend a 200- or 500-hour teacher-training program. The nationally certified curriculum has passed more than 150 graduates, steadily expanding the reach of its art to Manchester and beyond. Though yoga is the main focus, Samadhi Yoga Studio rounds out its class roster with other dynamic offerings. Festive Zumba workouts showcase heart-healthy twirls, and specialized workshops combine yoga with other disciplines, such as dance and running.
When Maggie Carchrie voyaged to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, she hardly expected to discover a passion that would win her the U.S. Mòd Women's Championship in Gaelic Singing two years later. She was immediately enchanted by the traditional music of the region, planning her future travels around the areas of Cape Breton and Scotland and diving headfirst into the Celtic culture. With a college degree in music therapy and a resume that boasts subsequent studies at the Ceòlas Music School, she built a foundation for a life filled with award-winning Celtic performance and education. She lays claim to two albums, books several East Coast showcases throughout the year, and furthers the reach of Celtic stylings through the concerts and CDs of Mermaid Productions. Maggie draws from all of these experiences to act as director of the Callanish School of Celtic Arts. There, she instructs students of all ages in music, dance, and lyrical language, managing a non-competitive venue for guests to experiment with age-old harmonies and master a brogue without having to install a second tongue. From the high-stepping choreography of Scottish Highland Dance to the signature keening of the bagpipe, she outlines several levels of melodic techniques, all of which are steeped in rich history.
Muvement is as much a gym as it is a physical-fitness lab. Certified strength and conditioning specialist Michael Houle and Jill Houle, who holds a BS in nutritional science, team up to invest clients with practical workout regimens and an intimate knowledge of how the body works on a physiological level. Before new clients lift their first weight at the studio, a personal trainer consults with them about their exercise and health history and runs physical assessments and lab tests to identify potential obstacles related to the immune, digestive, hormonal, and detoxification systems. Next, Jill draws on her background as a professional nutritionist to recommend a diet suited to the client’s unique metabolism, and explains how the body breaks down calories and nutrients. Even their fitness regimens take a holistic approach. Whether in group or personal-training sessions, functional movements using resistance bands, TRX suspension, and kettlebells incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints into each exercise, building a physique more balanced than two eggs riding a seesaw during the spring equinox.
Raised on the streets of Holyoke, Paul Cichon draws on his own experience and life story as he uses boxing to instill character, discipline, and determination. At Manchester ROCS Boxing Club, Paul and his fellow trainers teach the fundamentals of the sweet science to children from all ages and backgrounds. Paul’s fighters have earned 11 national titles while learning respect and self-motivation in a nurturing environment.
Visitors never have to wait in line to workout at Cardio Express—each of the six clubs boasts a ton of Cybex strength-training machinery, an arsenal of free weights, and more than 80 pieces of cardio equipment affixed with personal 15-inch television screens. Compassionate instructors imbue gym visits with a human element as well, leading classes such as Core Fusion, Total Tone circuit training, and spinning sessions at the Southington, Vernon, and Manchester locations. Each year, the staff members carry the same motivational energy they use in their studios to recruit members and friends for the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour. Cardio Express has raised a grand total of nearly $400,000, and it also acts as title sponsor for the 2012 benefit.
Within Stone Age Rock Gym's indoor facility, 4,500 square feet of textured climbing walls help visitors ascend to new heights. Bouldering, 32-foot lead routes, and top-rope climbing areas await gym guests, surrounding them in technicolor handholds that creep up the walls at challenging angles. Elsewhere, a simulated ice-climbing wall absorbs the blows of axes, and a gear shop preps climbers to ascend walls with the dexterity of Spiderman.
A staff of certified guides lead classes that teach students as young as 6 the fundamental skills needed to ascend simulated peaks. Alternatively, the experts head up guided climbing trips to sites across the state. They help eager climbers scale the 30-foot Wolf Rock in Mansfield Hollow and reach the Sasquatch hugs awaiting them atop Ragged Mountain's 120-foot cliff.