Founder and director Lauren “Miss LaLa” McBride stirs inspiration in artists of all ages at her triple-pronged studio focused on the visual, musical, and theatrical arts. Painters, illustrators, potters, and wannabe fashion designers can all find a class to suit them, and for younger artists, M.A.D.—or Music and Arts Development—Mondays foster creativity in kids from the cradle through elementary school. In the theater department, the studios' pint-size play-actors have put on such shows as The Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Little Mermaid. Miss LaLa rounds out her programming with fitness classes such as yoga and fencing, preparing kids for Hamlet and Laertes' famous asana duel.
At Marietta Center for Yoga and Well Being, yoga classes represent a fraction of the therapeutic practices offered. Wanda DeVaughn augments private yoga sessions with special techniques, such as chakra focus, which includes meditation to rebalance internal energy, and koshas, which brings awareness to students' five levels of being. Alternatively, Tina Rae teaches the importance of eating well through holistic chef services and nutritional counseling.
Sacred Garden Yoga founder Cindy Olah discovered a love for nature growing up in Peru. She’s fused that passion with yoga instruction by leading retreats in the mountains of North Georgia, North Carolina, and back home in Peru. Whether outdoors or within her pastel-green workout studio, Cindy and fellow instructors lead non-competitive sessions that foster lifelong friendships. Their group, private, and prenatal sessions emphasize proper body alignment and breath work. Students can also discover healing with reiki and reflexology treatments and workshops on subjects such as meditation and painless band-aid removal.
In addition to a full range of cardio machines and free weights, WellStar Health Place's expansive fitness center hosts a welcoming staff of degreed exercise specialists, health-care professionals, and licensed dietitians. As well as custom-tailoring personal-training sessions, the exercise specialists lead group classes for all ages, including yoga, cardio, and Zumba classes. A mere hop, skip, and Olympic-record lunge away from the indoor, heated swimming pool, licensed massage therapists indulge tired tendons with a combination of Swedish, deep-tissue, and trigger-point techniques. A nursery staff tends to children aged 6 weeks to 11 years while adults work out, and afterward, the friendly fruitsmiths at Planet Smoothie's in-house location dish out refreshing, high-protein beverages to replenish waning moisture levels.
As a Bikram yoga instructor and studio owner, Naedra Fox's job is to make a 105-degree room with 40% humidity a welcoming space. To do this, she and her fellow teachers made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles to attend the once-yearly instructor certification course taught by Bikram Choudhury. The intensive nine-week apprenticeship focuses on more than merely mastering the 26 poses. Certified Bikram instructors learn how to make their classes a beginner-friendly, nonjudgmental space that still pushes students to expand their limits. Additionally, Naedra strives for an inclusive, family atmosphere. Newcomers nervous about the notoriously sweaty, 90-minute Bikram sessions are free to stretch postures only as far as is comfortable for them.
Rich purple walls and a bar outfitted with a zebra-print façade sounds more like club decor than the decor of a school. For the past 20 years, however, the National Bartending School of Atlanta has put on mixology clinics in just this kind of lounge-style setting. At its six learning stations, teachers train professional bartenders during hands-on certification courses that cover more than 100 drink recipes, as well as eclectic topics such as free pouring or the art of making a cocktail from whatever falls down a waterfall. Alternatively, students can dabble in the art of cocktail creation during two-hour, noncertification courses, which focus on classic drinks such as the cosmo and the margarita.