Ann Kamhi Toran credits Pilates practice with saving her dancing career. After a major back injury threatened her ability to continue performing, Ann devoted herself to Pilates, and the exercises helped rehabilitate her body so effectively that she was eventually promoted to soloist after recovering. Although she stopped professionally dancing more than 20 years ago, Ann still practices Pilates daily.
Ann?s husband, Dr. Errol Toran, also is a believer in the rejuvenating capabilities of Pilates, and he suggested it to his chiropractic patients, incorporating the exercises into their physical rehabilitation. Together, Ann and Dr. Toran decided to create a studio that shared these benefits with the general public, introducing the time-honored exercise techniques that improve posture and build lean, toned muscles.
The studio boasts four locations throughout the New York area, each featuring an arsenal of traditional Pilates equipment. The signature apparatus, the Reformer, generates gentle resistance with a system of springs, pulleys, and miniature black holes. Students push and pull against this resistance while performing sequences of relatively simple movements that require unwavering mental focus to maintain the ideal technique and alignment. By emphasizing controlled, quality movements over flailing your body against a boulder, Pilates exercises can evenly tone muscles across the entire body, with a particular emphasis on the core muscle groups.
Ann and Dr. Toran encourage their instructors to take initiative when leading classes and tailor the pacing or sequence to accommodate students, but each studio does host sessions for particular skill levels. Introductory and Level 1 classes work to develop form and technique, whereas the more advanced sessions begin to include modified exercises or long-division flashcards to ensure a more challenging workout.
Husband-and-wife team and Prana Power Yoga cofounders Philippe and Taylor Wells foster an environment in which clients can explore holistic wellness through yoga, intensive workshops, and events. Instructors at each heated studio locations roll out the welcome yoga mats, encouraging students of all interests and skill levels, from mothers-to-be to veteran sun saluters, to build strong bodies and peaceful minds in a judgment-free environment. During athletic Vinyasa-style yoga classes, certified instructors crank up temperatures as high as 99 degrees before taking mat mavens through a sequence of sweaty postures linked with mindful breathing exercises designed to boost lung capacity to Sting-like levels. Meanwhile, visitors in search of a transformative experience can attend one of the studio's workshops or events, which range from juice cleanses to destination yoga retreats in Nayarit, Mexico.
Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo have extensive experience in Bikram yoga. Donna, a former Broadway performer, noticed that actors, musicians, and stagehands had little space to stretch and warm up before their performances. In turn, she chose the theater district for her flagship BIkram Yoga studio built in 1998, when Bikram was just gaining in popularity. The first Bikram Yoga NYC location soon blossomed into seven yoga rooms spread across four locations, and all are covered in Flotex anti-microbial flooring. This waterproof flooring protects against germs more effectively than than wood floors or cooties shots. Hygiene is important when practicing Bikram yoga, as the increased temperatures cause participants to work up a healthy sweat.
On the flipside, Jennifer has an athletic background, with experience in everything from marathons to soccer and tennis. She also worked as the communications director for IMG—a powerful force in the world of sports marketing. Together, Rubin and Lobo produced the very first Yoga Asana Championship in New York. They continue to do so each year while leading a team of more than 70 certified instructors who host nearly 300 classes each week, making it convenient for clients to fit sessions in to busy schedules.
Dr. Nicole Bishop's signature Mommy and Me Pilates classes were born the same time as her son, Reza, as a way to connect with him while helping women balance their fitness regimens with their brand new bundles. During the 60-minute Mamilates classes, two instructors?one for mom and one for baby?guide participants through short bursts of challenging Pilates exercises. During these drills, fun activities such as singing, massage, and dance keep growing minds entertained while women bolster their muscles. With regular practice, women may notice a reduction in physical tension around the neck and shoulders, stronger abdominals, sturdy backs, and weightlessness despite carrying 15 sacks of lead. The team strives to achieve these results specifically to aid in the recovery from the strain of carrying a baby or to make common postnatal lifting easier. The staff makes careful modifications for women still recovering from Cesarean sections.
Dr. Bishop earned her PhD in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, an academic track that involved a focus on mindfulness, meditation, and reading methodology. She incorporates these disciplines in her budding practice, along with her specialty in African and Caribbean dance, the spark for which ignited at the ripe old age of 5 years. As a kicker, Dr. Bishop also boasts certification in mat Pilates instruction and the ability to fashion a yoga mat out of a napkin.
When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first Athletic Club in Buffalo in 1980, they chartered their gym around three values: service, cleanliness, and having owners operate their own facilities. True to the founders’ original vision, each of the Rochester locations' employees strive to keep their cardio and resistance equipment spic and span as they care for facilities that range of up to 30,000 square feet.
In addition to personal training, instructors lead more than 400 group fitness classes—including cycling, yoga, and Zumba—offered each week across their five locations. After workouts, guests can slip into saunas and private showers; most locations also have steam rooms, and the Perinton location has a pool. Three of the RAC locations are for women only, allowing them to workout uninhibited by the company of men or asexual mermaids.
Though many a dance-fitness fad has come and gone in recent years, Jazzercise's popularity has never wavered. As the first contender in a now-booming industry, the revolutionary fitness regimen was founded in 1969 by dancer Judi Sheppard Missett. She repurposed her love of jazz dance into a global phenomenon, and today the Jazzercise program spans 32 countries and roughly 32,000 weekly classes.
The Jazzercise method engages and exercises the entire body during high-energy workouts. Certified instructors ensure that no student, whether just beginning or advanced, gets left behind with aid from step-by-step instruction and an online roster of moves. They blend dance aerobics with resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing to tone and limber up entire muscle groups. Each class kicks off with a warm-up to get everyone?s blood flowing and shake the cobwebs latticed between the fingers of their jazz hands. Instructors then lead students through 30 minutes of cardio, strength training with weights, and a stretch-filled cooldown, all set to infectiously popular tunes. Jazzercise instructors are so committed to their students' health and confidence that they've archived nutrition, fitness, health, and beauty articles online to help keep Jazzercisers motivated and positive.