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, pi?a-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.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
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.
When Ruthann Zentner began studying yoga, she soon realized that its focused breathing, emphasis on enhancing flexibility, and core-strengthening poses could help people of any age achieve mental and physical wellness. Throughout her yoga journey, she spent time working with Shakta Khalsa, a renowned children's yoga instructor, which inspired her to educate children through engaging stories and kid-friendly yoga classes as a certified yoga storyteller. Within the teal-green walls and dark wood floors of the studio, kids limber up while having fun during yoga-centered games, working off the stresses of filing lemonade-stand taxes. Adult students learn the basics in beginner-level yoga classes, or strengthen their cores and improve their balance in PiYo, which merges elements of Pilates and yoga into high-intensity routines. For her older students and those unable to do floor work, she partners poses with four-legged props in chair yoga.
Ruthann also trained under Sadie Nardini, an empowerment speaker, yoga and anatomy expert, and Healthy Hedonism lifestyle leader, and received training in ZenBarre, which combines strength, flexibility and cardio. At The Zen Zone she strives to share the latest trends and practices in yoga and Pilates with her students.