Despite many obvious differences, new yogis and fighter pilots share a common fear: turning upside-down for the first time. At Yoga Sakti, however, instructors have installed a yoga wall that acts as a fail-safe for students who want to practice their inversions. A system of straps and props support pupils as they attempt advanced postures or strive to overcome physical difficulties, such as back problems. An aid for beginners and experts alike, the wall also acts as a symbol of the large studio's welcoming, encouraging atmosphere.
When they aren't manning the wall, yoga instructors lead classes in a wide variety of styles, from heated Vinyasa sequences to mellow gentle-stretch sessions or even mellower Nap in Your Parked Car seminars. Variety is a major theme running through the gym's curriculum: TRX routines bookend spin classes and ballet-barre workouts or combine with kettlebell swings to form one of several combo classes. For a more meditative visit, guests can explore the onsite wellness center, where massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis therapy aim to calm the mind.
Newcomers need have no fear of strain or overstretching at HotCore Yoga. Founder Peter Sklivas designed the 33-posture series to lengthen and strengthen the core while protecting the muscles from injury. Long, slow ujaya breaths help call up the body's healing faculties, and the warmth of the heated studio helps increase range of motion and free tension from the limbs. This attention to detail makes his 90-minute classes as appropriate for grandparents as they are for elite athletes or aspiring pretzel impersonators. As popular music from one of over 350 playlists fills the room, students of all levels move into ever-deeper poses, freeing the mind and fostering a sense of connection to the soul.
At Studio 13, Pilates isn’t confined to the mat. Its stretching, core-strengthening moves enliven Reformer apparatuses, infuse yoga classes, and add an unexpected dimension to the ballet barre. In fact Pilates has seeped its way into the majority of the studio's more than 100 weekly classes. But that doesn't mean this fitness haven is single minded. Pilates-free fitness styles such as Zumba—where upbeat music fuels energetic dance—or spinning—where imagined lions fuel heated bicycle pedaling—also carve bodies into shape. P90X classes incorporate intense, varied workouts designed to work every area of the body, which is why they're a favorite among elite athletes and gymnasts. Seven styles of barre fitness classes incorporate the toning, sculpting techniques of ballet, sometimes with a blend of Pilates or TRX for good measure. Whatever the workout, students can rest assured that the class they attend will be taught by an instructor certified in that particular fitness style. Studio 13's spacious personal-training area, meanwhile, allows for more personalized workouts, as does the gym’s arsenal of cardio and strength equipment.
B&S Fitness Program is composed of four different fitness-related branches, all of which are overseen by cofounders Brandi and Steven Dion. At North Shore Boot Camp Company, Brandi and Steven, along with their staff, lead indoor and outdoor boot-camp classes at locations across Massachusetts. On the track, they coordinate marathons and triathlons throughout the year for B&S Event Management, and hit the races themselves as part of a running team called SpiderOne Racing. Since every team needs a home base, the duo also operates B&S Sport Science, a 10,700-square-foot facility devoted to research- and technology-based services such as ACL rehab and personal training.
Bikram Yoga Danvers' hot yoga sessions are sweaty and intense—but that doesn't mean beginners should be intimidated. The team encourages first-timers to take breaks whenever they need to, and to consider their first class a success if they can manage to stay in the studio for the full 90 minutes. More seasoned yogis, meanwhile, set out to conquer the entire Bikram sequence, which is comprised of 26 hatha poses and two breathing exercises. The poses, often named after cute animals like rabbits and tortoises, have benefits that go way beyond cute. Some improve balance, for instance, while others massage internal organs, saving practitioners the hassle of sending their spleens to massage school.
At Oceanside Pilates & Yoga Studio, owner Ellen Conti and a crew of enthusiastic instructors help bodies look and feel their best with daily fitness classes. Burnt-orange and creamy-yellow walls surround a dimly lit workout area where students can roll out their mats or hop on a Pilates Reformer. Nearby, a turquoise statue of Buddha keeps watch over students from atop a black dresser, quietly reminding them to retain their inner calm whether working up a sweat or sinking in quicksand.
Classes include Kundalini yoga, which combines intense exercises and breath work, and gentle-flow yoga, which focuses on basic yoga poses, relaxation, and meditation. Based on the ballet barre, barre classes improve range of motion, balance, and flexibility by blending Pilates moves, yoga stretches, and fitness accessories such as weights and thera bands. Oceanside also offers organic spray-tanning services that coat freshly forged muscles in bronze, creating the illusion of a day spent at the beach or on the assembly line of a copper-tubing factory.