At Initial TKD Martial Arts, Ms. Ke and Mr. D.—third-degree black-belt instructors and winners of the 2009 Illinois State Championship in Forms—combine 26 years of experience to foster strength and increased self-confidence in students aged 4 and older through tae kwon do practices. The duo operates under the philosophy that students flourish best in an atmosphere without pressure, and in order to foster a stress-free environment, the instructors personalize lessons to fit individual pupils’ needs. Natural light bathes the hardwood floors within the studio, and an area dedicated to viewers allows parents or guardians to watch their child, spouse, or ambitious pet kangaroo ascend through the dojo’s colored-belt system.
Born in India—the same land where yoga originated centuries ago—Poonam Gupta has felt a profound attachment to the ancient discipline since childhood, when her father led her through the first steps of what would become a lifelong journey. Those early sessions with her father led Poonam to spend countless hours meditating, meeting with teachers, and perusing spiritual texts. In the course of her studies, she discovered that the physical practice of yoga was only part of the equation; the process of studying and furthering her knowledge of the art proved equally self-empowering.
Poonam thought back to this breakthrough when it came time to found her own studio, naming it Yoga Gyan Jyoti, which translates to “light of yogic knowledge.” Today, her daily yoga classes help practitioners to improve their flexibility, build their strength, and overcome weight issues. The center complements its yoga classes with training in ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine that focuses on correcting imbalances that result from years of poor nutrition or one-handed pushups.
Kristin was nervous before her first pole-dancing class. Sure, she?d spent years as a fitness specialist with a background in classical dance, but she was also working as the volunteer director at her church. What would people think? At her first turn around the pole, however, her fears vanished. ?I felt like a goddess and an acrobat,? she says.
Today, Kristin is a certified pole instructor, a master trainer for Pole Move, Inc, and a member of the Pole Fitness Association. Inside her 3,400-square-foot studio, she works alongside 16 PFA-certified instructors to teach women body acceptance through pole dancing. More than 3,000 female students so far have sampled the studio's liberating, confidence-boosting classes. There's a broad selection of class types, including eight stages of pole dancing, burlesque, aerobic classes, core conditioning, aerial silks, and aerial yoga. Each class caps attendance at 10 students to ensure instructors know everyone?s name and favorite sandwich, and that they can keep an eye out for safety and technique.
Anu Buzruk learned Hatha yoga at the Sree Swamy Vivekananda Centre of Teacher Education in India, taught the style in India for six years, and then moved to Chicago and completed Lotus Yoga Center’s 200-hour training course. Yet, even with all of her training, she works to continually improve her teaching at Yoganubhav Studio by regularly scheduling feedback sessions with her students and their often neglected mats. Since starting her career, she has taught Hatha yoga to more than 400 students, and she employs their feedback to tailor her classes to their needs. Through this personalization of her classes, many students have reported her Hatha yoga classes have helped to increase their flexibility and alleviate issues such as anxiety, digestive difficulty, and menstrual disorders.
Some workouts leave the exerciser feeling exhausted, but after a Pilates workout, it's generally the opposite. Thanks to the smooth, flowing motions and the focus on breathing techniques, students leave a Pilates session refreshed and energized. Core Value Pilates' classes are no exception. The studio's experienced instructors are focused on helping students achieve their fitness goals while also improving their overall wellbeing. Students can choose between mat or equipment classes at this STOTT Pilates Studio, and they can opt for either group classes or private sessions. Vinyasa style yoga classes are also available, a style that focuses on the synchronization of breathing with movement.
Shihan Hercle Brown, a sixth-degree black belt with more than 30 years of martial-arts experience, teaches every class at Brown's DragonFire Martial Arts. Centering on shorinji-ryu karate—an authentic style with roots in Okinawa—classes focus on mental and physical strength for martial arts and self-defense. Brown leads classes for all ages, striving to shape students with better focus, discipline, confidence, and balance. Programs also involve weapons training and sparring.