Before becoming one of Indiana's regional yoga champions and the third-ranked woman at the national yoga competition in New York, yogi and studio owner Ayanna Brown was out of shape and suffered from chronic asthma. One would never guess this after watching her elegantly execute Bikram Choudhury's 26 postures, but she didn't begin practicing yoga until a broken leg left her looking for a rehabilitation regimen that involved no pogo sticks. Though the extreme heat took its toll on her body and lungs during the first class, she kept at it, and has practiced six days a week ever since. Today, asthma free and leg in tact, she shares her passion for the heated yoga style with students of all experience and fitness levels in her own Southern Indiana studio.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Founded in 1974, Yoga East has spent nearly four decades guiding visitors along the path to mental serenity and physical wellness. The nonprofit educational organization holds more than 75 classes a week at three Louisville studios, inviting guests of all fitness backgrounds to flow through the tableaux of multiple yoga disciplines. Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and gentle yoga cull tension from muscles and foster flexibility. Classes can accommodate skill levels from gentle to advanced by modifying maneuvers and demanding that the tree and mountain poses be performed atop their namesakes.
Each Yoga East instructor has earned certification from Yoga Alliance. Their collective expertise enables the studios to offer teacher training as well as workshops, community events, and additional fitness courses, such as Pilates.
Strong Hold Climbing Gym at Hester's Family Fitness beckons to rock clingers of all skill levels with more than 4,000 square feet of top-rope routes, bouldering, and peerless climbing classes. With padded floors throughout, Strong Hold's crew of climbers can scale the multicolored routes with no fear of hard falls, and Strong Hold equips each climber with the harness, shoes, and cliff-badger bait necessary for topping its walls. Introductory classes, taught by master stone whisperers, cover the basics of rope work, proper knots, and the techniques required for pulling on slopers or crimps.
Better Body's Fitness Center is never exclusive when it comes to exercise—the trainers believe that anyone from any background can pursue a healthier lifestyle at any age. The gym's studio pulses with team energy during group classes such as Core Strength, Zumba, and yoga that accommodate all experience levels, as well as Silver Sneakers training for seniors. On the workout floor, cardio machines and strength equipment—from brands such as Cybex, Hammer Strength, and Life Fitness—vie with free weights for muscles' attention by disguising themselves as unopenable jelly jars.
Burn Personal Fitness Studio torches the obstacles present in many gyms, eschewing rooms full of daunting equipment and one-size-fits-all instruction. To help clients develop healthy habits for the long run, the studio specializes in personal and small-group training. This approach gives staffers plenty of time to dole out custom encouragement tailored to each exerciser’s specific fitness goals.
During personal-training sessions, certified fitness trainers draw up custom workouts for individual clients. In addition to monitoring the client's progress, the trainer puts on personalized master classes in how to most effectively carry out exercises, giving guests a skill set they can take with them long after the sessions end. In small-group classes, the trainers guide no more than six students through disciplines that range from calming yoga to energizing boot camps filled with cardio drills, weightlifting challenges, and body-weight exercises. Students take control of their workout, determining the pace of their training by selecting variations that accommodate their skill set, fitness level, and vestigial pterodactyl wings.