In 2001, Carrie Rezabek Dorr's only venue for her Pure Barre workouts—a blend of dance, Pilates, and strengthening stretches—was the basement of an office building. Crowds drawn by Carrie's choreographing expertise and the infectious music of her routines necessitated expansion, however, and eight years later, Pure Barre spread its franchises to what is now more than 160 locations across the country, spurred by mentions in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Health magazines.
Pure Barre guides students through precise isometric movements that craft lean, not bulky, muscles. By flowing through scalable maneuvers that balance limbs against a ballet barre, physiques can lift and tighten traditional problem areas such as the thighs, abs, seat, and arms. The total-body workout is accessible to all fitness levels, and can help new mothers to regain their desired shape without leading the daycare's piggyback carpool. High-energy, intimate classes with small amounts of attendees ensure personalized adjustments and tips, allowing each guest to derive the deepest possible burn from the workout's alternating strength and stretch drills. Pure Barre also offers private barre-ties, DVDs, equipment, designer exercise apparel, and more.
Acupuncture in NOLA's two nationally certified acupuncturists draw upon three-year degrees in Oriental Medicine and good group vibes in their tranquil public-treatment centers. Both avid students of holistic healing, owner Tonya Tigart supplemented her Master's of Science with advanced acupuncture training at Heilongjiang University in Harbin, China, and partner Kathleen Keane boasts extensive massage-therapy experience in addition to her Master's of Science. Their aim is to help patients heal themselves via several holistic therapies, particularly acupuncture, which the World Health Organization recognizes can be effective in treating more than 50 ailments, including chronic pain, anxiety, and the nagging fear that the refrigerator door is on fire.
Tigart and Keane carefully attend to physical and psychological comfort, letting their acupuncture patients decide when their needles should come out, or if they should be dispatched entirely for thumb-based acupressure. Treatment can be administered in private or in a public space, where patients enjoy the fellowship of friends and other health-seekers as they relax on memory-foam recliners, sip tea, and defrost frozen wristwatches under heat lamps.
It may seem counterintuitive to some, but Affirm Fitness’s head fitness trainer, Lauren Leitner, also owns a biscotti-making business. Of course, all of the desserts she doles out are low in fat, making them tasty complements to the healthy lifestyle that she hopes to impart upon her students at Affirm Fitness. There, she and fellow trainers lead exercisers of all stripes through boot camps that are either traditional or tailored to new moms. Cardio-and-sculpt boot camp shows exercisers how to have fun as they transition between drills in agility, interval training, and body-weight resistance. In baby-friendly Bootie Camp, participants push strollers a little bit faster than usual for a cardio workout that allows them to spend time with little ones while they improve themselves. Moms can even spend a little time sculpting muscles with hand weights or by lifting diaper bags filled with bricks. Affirm Fitness’s class schedule also includes dance-inspired Zumba cardio workouts, relaxing yoga, and TRX suspension training.
At the helm of Freret Street Yoga, Geoffrey Roniger employs his own approach to yoga: intuitive movement and alignment to help students to achieve mental, emotional, and physical balance. He and his team of instructors do not teach just one way to practice; instead, they arm students with a range of breathing and posing techniques to best fit their ability and prepare them for successfully hiding in overhead compartments. In addition to beginner and intermediate classes, Freret Street also specializes in athlete’s yoga and techniques designed to foster workplace wellness. Newly limber muscles can find additional relief under the practiced hands of massage therapist Brad “Yogi” Barra. He tends to sore spots with deep-tissue and neuromuscular bodywork, as well as craniosacral and active-release therapy.
Yogi Michele Baker began teaching yoga at a New Orleans athletic club in 1998. Ten years later, after Hurricane Katrina forced Baker to evacuate her home, she started writing a yoga-instruction training manual. She soon put it to use, using it as a guide to lead her staff at Swan River Yoga, which she opened with business partner Keith Porteous. Today, the yoga center helps pupils practice yoga and guides aspiring instructors as they hone their craft and nurture the third eye that sprouts from their forehead.
Yoga classes are suitable for a variety of skill levels, and range from prenatal and beginners’ yoga to Anusara yoga—a class that focuses on flowing movements and proper alignment. Swan River Yoga also provides holistic services such as massage, reiki, and acupuncture.
Life Fitness treadmills and Cybex weight equipment complement the rows of elliptical machines and recumbent bikes at Downtown Fitness Center’s studios. Personal televisions transform machines into teeny, tiny home theaters. For structured workouts, visitors can opt for classes that impart yoga, and cardio routines, or trainers can tailor custom programs to achieve individual fitness goals.