Even as a 4-year-old growing up in Honolulu, Vee Osborne was drawn to Hawaiian shamanism and the Huna philosophy, which stresses the balance of the mind, body, and spirit through one’s actions. Her early passion for healing others led her down the path to becoming a hypnotherapist, reiki master, and ordained minister before she funneled her devotion to creating harmony and guiding others toward wellness into Plaza West Massage & Day Spa. Here, clouds of gentle music and the scent of essential oils greet her guests, who slip into robes and sip wine as they unwind. And Vee’s Hawaiian roots remain readily apparent, inspiring the spa’s potted palms, bamboo massages, piña-colada scrubs, and wall-sized pictures that bring Pacific beaches to Kansas.
Vee’s healing services go beyond relaxation, though. Her team of massage therapists kneads aching muscles with Swedish, trigger-point, and deep-tissue modalities, deepening their knot-fighting effect with volcanic stones and essential oils. After a body wrap with Dead Sea salts or a glycolic peel, guests can visit the two-tiered sauna or extend their rejuvenation with an energy-balancing reiki session. The spa also delves into treatments that rely on electronic frequencies, such as a tri-phasic resonator, which fights cellulite, or quantum electro-ionization, which aims to diminish blemishes rather than cover them up with white-out. Before heading home, clients can pick up body and facial products from Vee’s eponymous line, such as Island Essence hair products, complete with tropical scents.
Above all else, Bikram Yoga emphasizes personal growth and development—not competition and comparison. That means newcomers are welcome to attend alongside experienced practitioners. Although the sessions at Bikram Yoga St. Louis may seem like a more physical challenge at first, the goal is for students to recognize and strengthen the connection that exists between the mind, body, and spirit. This progress does bolster physical fitness, but also creates a restorative and relaxing experience.
Every 90-minute session consists of the exact same sequence of two breathing exercises and 26 standing and seated asanas. These physically demanding postures use deep bends and twists to work muscle groups and organ systems throughout the body, pushing oxygenated blood where it's needed most and building strength and stamina. If you're having trouble with any pose, that's no problem: the instructors can recommend slight modifications. For more advice, visit the studio's website.
The instructors heat the practice space to sweat-inducing levels for each class, increasing circulation and aiding in the release of toxins. In addition to loosening tight muscles—which allows students to sink deeper into each stretch—this heat also has profound mental benefits. The extra challenge encourages attendees to focus on each posture's alignment and orientation while learning how to accept the heat, concentrate on breathing, and practice a calmer mental state. After class, separate changing rooms with showers are available for those looking to refresh themselves.
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Veteran shutterbug Cara Dee Stucke honed her artistic eye in 27 years in the portrait-photography field and today attends annual workshops and seminars to stay abreast of modern techniques. Along with fellow photographer Mark Gilmore, Cara Dee snaps elegant, contemporary shots of weddings, families, and high-school seniors using high-tech equipment such as 21.5-megapixel sensor cameras and light-bending hand claps. Before each photo session, the creative team can proffer wardrobe and makeup consultations, taking time to heed customers' requests for the overall vibe of the shoot.
On-location sessions voyage into the tranquil confines of nature for a romantic ambiance, and shoots in the CaraDee Photography studio allow for edgy, urban-theme photos with self-provided props. Images make their way onto prints of all sizes, emblazoned on top-quality metallic or lustrous papers, custom-created books, and videos replete with music.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
Named by Inside Columbia magazine as the best place for yoga in 2011 and 2012, alleyCat Yoga's serene yoga sanctuary hosts daily classes for students of all ages. One of the studio's teachers, Susan Mathis, draws on the teachings of Swami Kripalu, a celebrated yogi often associated with the insightful practice known as "meditation in motion." To apply the practice, students progress through stages of relaxation, physical postures, and meditation to establish connections between the mind, body, and spirit.
The well-rounded team of certified instructors also leads classes rooted in their respective specialties, including Hatha yoga, the more intense Vinyasa tradition, and gentler yoga classes for students who've only interacted with downward-facing dogs while pet-sitting. Susan's branch of kid-friendly yoga, called Yoga to Grow, helps children as young as 20 months stretch their rapidly growing bodies and sparks imaginations with stories, games, and songs.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable members to work on their physical well-being with a cornucopia of fitness equipment. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength and cardio equipment, which features built-in TVs and other media diversions. For those who exercise during conventional hours, Snap's friendly, unintimidating atmosphere welcomes patrons of all ability levels, unlike schoolyard dodge-ball squads. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling. For a dose of custom advice, patrons can seek out a personal-training session with a certified coach, who helps them assess and address their fitness goals. Clients reap the benefit of individual attention as a personal trainer helps them tackle weight loss, prepare for an arm-wrestling competition, or unveil the mysteries of arcane cable-weight machines.