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.
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.
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.
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.
The taut canvas sinks under the weight of two sock-clad feet, stretching its coiled spring fasteners to their limit before rebounding and jettisoning the acrobat skyward. High-flying stunts abound at The Trampoline Place, where 10 competition-style trampolines let gymnasts and fun seekers attempt new airborne flips, spins, and toe touches. The gym boasts safety harnesses and pads to provide a safety net for those trying out new techniques, and the USA Gymnastics–certified staff offers lessons for those trying to bolster their trampoline skills.
Ancient Himalayan singing bowls and the calming tone of a gong envelop The Conduit Center’s space as individuals lie comfortably on pillows and blankets, letting the deep vibrations and soothing sounds lull them into a deep meditative state. These sound-meditation concerts are just one aspect of the center’s meditation services, which are designed to create a state of effortless relaxation for each participant. Guests can also opt for vibrational sound massage and singing-bowl sessions, both of which use vibration and sound to calm the entire body while boosting mental focus, helping the body heal while making ordinary soup bowls seem sadly inadequate.
In addition to meditation, the center conducts yoga, tai chi, and qigong classes that are both challenging and accessible to all levels of participants. Complimentary herbal teas, massage therapy, and individual or marriage counseling are also offered as part of the center's goals to create a tranquil environment where each individual can quell anxieties and start a personal journey of self-exploration.