In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old–12 years old with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents magazine.
Riverflow Yoga owner Rhonda Uretzky lives and breathes yoga. After 40 years of dedicated practice—and with every member of her immediate family either teaching or practicing yoga—she has come to think of it not just as a workout, but as a way of life. Aided by an experienced team of instructors and sweat-inducing temperatures that work to purge bodies of toxins, Rhonda’s Hot 26 Yoga classes focus on stretches that nurture physical flexibility and foster spiritual exploration.
Riverflow Yoga's studio, located in a former laceworks, features free parking and uses a combination of heat to boost blood flow, ease sore joints, stretch tight muscles and tone bodies during hot yoga sessions. When Rhonda's guiding students through each class’ 26 poses, she elongates spines and unkinks vestigial tails with hands-on adjustments. Her hands, adept and perceptive from so much practice, can feel when bodies are tense; a mere touch can tell her where each student needs the most attention.
As a teenager, Sarah Heward suffered two herniated disks, which left her literally crawling out of bed throughout her teenage years until she was 30. Because her demands as a mother of three young children made it impossible to take time off for surgery, she sought an exercise modality to help heal her damaged back. Sarah found Pilates, which brought her fast relief from the years of pain. Now completely rehabilitated, she leads students of all fitness levels in finding physical wellness at her own studio in both small-group classes and private lessons.
The studio is lined with Pilates machines including reformers and springboards, designed to build patrons’ strength without adding bulk by utilizing the practitioner's own body weight as resistance. She also translates the exercises to mat-based routines, where students need nothing more than willing abdominals and their lucky spandex ascot to complete the full-body-toning regimen.
At Powerhouse Pilates, owners and instructors Annie and Victoria Maxwell lead exercisers through classes designed to strengthen and stabilize the core muscles, also known as the body's "powerhouse." Beyond traditional Pilates mat and reformer classes, the duo offers a handful of fitness sessions that put a more modern spin on the increasingly popular program. The Piloxing class—which has gained attention from NBC10 and Phillyburbs.com—keeps heart rates up by fusing together intervals of boxing, Pilates, and modern-dance moves. Standing barre classes, on the other hand, put the focus on balance and endurance by incorporating weights into a standing routine. Every class focuses on applying Pilates methods to everyday movements––a practice Powerhouse dubs "pre-habbing"––in order to train muscles to move properly and avoid injury.
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