After obtaining a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology, Kristen Nicole Hall seemed destined for a medical career. But after 14 years of competitive cheerleading and gymnastics, she couldn't shake the desire to share empowering, rhythmic routines with others—and an aerial-dance and flirty-fitness studio provided just the right venue to share her dream.
More than 15 classes are scheduled per week at Studio Goddess, including pole- and flirty fitness workouts that help participants bolster confidence and climb up trees quickly when confronted by a prowling wolf pack. Sessions such as Pole-Lates and Shake Your Abs blend dance and muscle-toning movements, and various pole-fitness levels progress students from basic spins to upside-down high-fives. Private pole parties teach small groups to twirl around the studio's 14-foot poles while celebrating special events or simply helping to "unleash the goddess" in each woman.
All three of National Dance Clubs locations are helmed by competition dancers with backgrounds in classical dance, theater dance, and athletics, so it's no surprise the company celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. In kind, students are treated to amenities of competition caliber?each location has a floating dance floor that is at least 2,000 square feet, as well as a state-of-the-art sound system. But this shouldn't intimidate beginners. NDC says that most of its new students have never taken a dance class before, but they'll quickly feel comfortable thanks to three-way instruction packages that include private lessons, group classes, and practice parties.
The LuvMud Benefit Event sends costumed sprinters charging and trudging along a 5K course riddled with mud, obstacles, and more mud in order to raise funds for Habitat for Hope, a nonprofit organization supporting the families of seriously ill children. Having grown each year since its inception in 2010, the annual race challenges individuals and teams to conquer tough terrain designed with varying levels of difficulty so as to accommodate participants of all fitness levels. Along the route, spectators gather to scout the action, and volunteers stand by to provide directions and tips, such as reminding racers not to eat any mud without sprinkling on a few blades of grass first.
After making it through the final, massive, 50-foot mud pit and crossing the finish line, finishers recharge their bionic legs with fruit, water, and snacks. Meanwhile, an all-day festival celebrates the occasion with live music and food vendors, and showering equipment supplied by the Memphis Fire Department cleans off any caked-on mud and sweat from the race. LuvMud also holds special races that allow participants’ dogs to join in the fun, as well as all-night camping events that include nighttime racing and live music.
The certified personal trainers at Anytime Fitness teach clients how to magnify their muscle mass and purge excess pounds. In each one-on-one 30-minute session, fitness gurus help exercisers set new fitness goals, revise and personalize workout programs, and correct their form during strenuous pinkie lifts. A gauntlet of cardio and weight equipment assists trainers in shaping and molding their students. Fitness seekers can ascend a stair climber, burn calories on an elliptical cross-trainer, or prepare for a marathon on a treadmill equipped for iPod and iPhone adaptors. In the free-weights area, patrons can pump up biceps to prepare for mud wrestling an alligator.
At the helm of Cargo Fitness is Carlos R. Gonzalez, a former track athlete at the high-school, collegiate, and international levels and a former strength and conditioning coach with the Tampa Bay Rays baseball club. Gonzalez draws upon this experience to provide a variety of training programs for those looking to lose weight, build endurance, and improve their health. His group fitness classes welcome exercisers of all skill levels to engage in full-body workouts, working to burn fat, tone muscle, and jump high enough to finally get that raccoon out of the top cupboard. Meanwhile, his strength and conditioning programs use individualized exercises to steer athletes toward their goals. Finally, he also offers online workout programs that augment personalized plans with weekly feedback sessions via phone or email.