Malenna Saunders grabs her ROTC and Air Force experience by the horns when she leads intense indoor and outdoor boot-camp or fitness classes. Warrior boot camp prepares patrons to slay unwanted fat during a 60-minute romp through plyometric and cardio conditioning melded with strength training and calisthenics routines, and Bowery Babes boot-camp sessions cater to moms or three toddlers standing on one another's shoulders dressed as a mom. Meanwhile, kettlebell workouts and functional exercises tone everyday muscles.
Certified instructors helm other group fitness classes, such as Vinyasa yoga and Zumba cardio-dance classes, within studios fully stocked with workout-enhancing props. Patrons of all fitness levels shimmy into Zumba sessions to hip-shake away excess poundage, mastering easy-to-follow Latin dance moves, which can add spice to tired chimney-sweeping routines.
Gabrielle Taylor started Manhattan Motion Dance Studio in 1993 to create a studio that was less concerned with professional perfection and more focused on self-expression and having fun. To that end, her classes offer something for everyone from hip hop and tap to Zumba fitness classes and private dance lessons for spouses-to-be. The studio also holds performance workshops, which prepare students for dance concerts and theatrical shows.
When Ray went to college, he followed in his father's footsteps and studied for a career that would have kept him at a desk all day. But Ray has always been active, and he realized he needed to find a career that would allow him to interact with people. Initially, he trained in physical therapy—but when he discovered athletic training, he knew he'd found his true calling. For more than 13 years, he's dedicated himself to helping people achieve their fitness goals. Now, as the fitness-programming director at Seek Fitness, Ray is passionate about helping members get results with an effective training system. But even as he and his trainers encourage clients to push themselves, they still aim to make classes fun and a little crazy.
Seek Fitness focuses on three types of classes. During Zumba, trainers pump up Latin music, '80s and '90s throwbacks, and current dance hits, then throw themselves into easy-to-follow choreography that gets everyone sweating together as they party away calories. The trainers change up boot-camp routines for each class; on any given day, students might be swinging kettlebells or using TRX suspension bands. Energy-packed Fusion classes are designed to keep students moving for a full 50 minutes, whether they're taking jabs at focus mitts, pummeling punching bags and piñatas, or going through kickboxing combinations. At the end of class, trainers want everyone to be tired and sweaty but liberated from stress and proud of their workout.
Dawn Hammer's infectious enthusiasm packs enough motivation to get a shy George Washington statue to dance, and it's the key ingredient in her one-hour Zumba fitness classes. During these sessions, she leads up to 35 students through high-energy hip shaking and cardio shimmying. Latin-inspired beats resound in the expansive gym as Dawn teaches the fast-paced dance routines. Her two years of Zumba experience inform her expertise, which she makes use of as students jive with one- to two-pound weights, gulps of water, and hair that bounces as though programmed to move with the beats.
Audrey is a physician assistant, a world music lover, a photographer, a scrapbooker, and a traveler. With a professional background in health, a personal penchant for international beats, and a slew of creative, artistic projects dominating the right side of her brain, it's no wonder Audrey excels at leading Zumba's Latin-inspired fitness parties. She's licensed in 5 of Zumba's subspecialties, and she's extremely meticulous about curating the perfect playlists.
The martial art of taekwondo, a highlight of the Olympics since the year 2000, isn't just about flashy roundhouse kicks. Known by some as "the way of the foot and the hand," it combines combat and self-defense strategies with potent physical and disciplinary exercises that develop the strength necessary to kick through bricks, and the stamina needed to carefully piece them back together again. Fancy footwork is the forte of Blackbelt Taekwondo Center's head instructor, who in addition to his martial arts mastery has also taught dance since 1987. In classes geared for ages 4 and up, he instills students with confidence and energy to climb the belt ladder from white to black as they perfect taekwondo's physical buffet of rapid attacks.