Bally Total Fitness enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day guest pass includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, Step Fitness, and High-Impact Hopscotch (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers work to torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts a bulk-building army of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room, ideal for drenching annoyingly dry towels. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
A sprawling salad bar stands center stage within Art ala Carte's studio. But you won't find lettuce and dressing inside. Instead, the bar dispenses ingredients for creativity: water colors, beads, and other art supplies. Each visit grants kids, teenagers, and parents unlimited access to these supplies, enough to create countless necklaces, collages, and portraits. And much like the craft days at regular salad bars, things often get messy. Luckily, the studio's staff takes care of all cleanup. In fact, an absence of parental involvement in the creative process is one of the staff's few stipulations. While adults are welcome to create alongside kids, Art ala Carte believes little artists should make their own creative choices. In this way, art can help them gain the confidence Mick Jagger developed after his mother stopped holding the mic for him on tour.
Because of their belief in empowering young ones, Art ala Carte brings its studio to as many kids as possible. They give away memberships to families in need, and the team takes a mobile version of their art bar to schools and community areas.
Dance with Joy Studios owner Rachel Lidskog strives to imbue her classes with the happiness she feels when dancing. Rachel has competed or taught in Argentina, Cuba, Holland, and Spain, among other countries, and her philosophy of uplifting people through dance is supported by the values of teamwork, creativity, and responsibility.
Along with a crew of professional instructors, she whisks fledgling hoofers around two hardwood-floor ballrooms, infusing their feet with the basics of Latin, country, and ballroom dance. She and her team identify private lessons, group classes or special workshops, and weekly dance parties as the best ways to learn to dance, superior even to dropping a family of ants into your overalls. They also organize wedding-dance lessons to ensure nuptial celebrations progress smoothly and cheerfully.
Community and inclusiveness are the cornerstones of the yoga practice that co-directors Bill Walters and Vilma Zaleskaite established at The Yoga Project. With more than 10 years of yoga practice each, Bill and Vilma now lead a seven-day schedule of sessions that offers traditional Level 1 and 2 yoga classes led by many instructors as well as sessions tailored to meet students' specific needs. Classes such as Easy Does It cater to a more senior crowd with lessons that run at a slower pace, and Patterns: Body & Breath combines traditional yoga poses with breath work to create a deeper experience. The center's most prominent claim to fame is instructor Vilma's brainchild, Yoga for the Larger Woman, which has gained praise from The Oregonian and The Bee. The supportive yet challenging 75-minute class uses props and poses to relax minds and slim silhouettes, aiming to improve participants' overall wellness. Each class at the studio has a similar goal, whether it's meant for beginner or advanced students.
As the artist-in-residence at a local grade school, Vine Gogh Artist Bar & Studio owner Jenny Schildan inspired more than 600 grade-schoolers to confidently wield a paintbrush. Now, she applies the same patience and passion when teaching her adult art classes.
Jenny likes to emphasize the therapeutic, meditative aspects of painting in her classes. “You kind of get tunnel vision for a couple hours—it’s a nice way to leave the planet.” To set a soothing tone, she serves wine and complimentary appetizers, puts on music, and kicks off classes with a toast. Then, she delves deeply into technique, from which brush to use to proper brushstrokes and basic color theory. “I tell students it’s like learning a dance routine. You go step by step and at the end, you have whole piece.”
Her fellow instructors tout not just technical expertise¬—all studied art at the university level—but a lifelong passion for art and teaching. She believes that the nurturing environment the group fosters can lure even the most timid painter to the canvas. “People have shocked themselves to see what they can create.”
Former gymnast and avid downhill skier Julie Ralston stumbled across CrossFit while searching for an exercise routine that would motivate her mind and push her body to the pinnacle of fitness. After achieving her CrossFit certification, attending countless seminars, and co-founding CrossFit StumpTown in Portland, Ralston developed a training technique suitable for customers of any body type, age, or level of ability. Her program offers increasingly challenging reps of lunges, sprints, throws, and lifts, backed up by the positive vibes and friendly support of a community of like-minded athletes. Visitors to the 4,700-square-foot gym won't find treadmills or weight machines, but kettlebells for swinging, pull-up bars for intense upper-body conditioning, and enough open space to halter-break a horse and train it to love CrossFit.