T.R.Y.-certified yoga instructor Kim MacKay funnels more than 25 years of experience into yoga classes for students of all skill levels. Steeped in ancient traditions such as Kripalu and Anusara, she infuses routines with classic yogic elements such as strength-building poses, deep-breathing exercises, and limbo competitions. Kim makes inhalations and exhalations a central focus during Vinyasa classes, which revolve around dance-like sequences of stretches and bends. Instead of eating sandwiches mid-headstand, class participants can explore mealtime poses during 30- and 60-minute Yoga for Lunch sessions.
Colleen grew up playing soccer and doing distance running. Now she holds instructor certifications in four different types of fitness class. Even though she finds Zumba the most upbeat and fun class, she also leads groups through gritty boot-camp sweat sessions and introspective yoga stretches. Believing fitness should be accessible to everyone, she adjusts the techniques during challenging movements to accommodate all fitness levels and wears a microphone so she is easily heard.
The fitness instructors at Sass Fitness believe that working out doesn’t have to involve the inexorable sadness of treadmills. They’ve developed a schedule of group fitness classes that replace monotonous machine-driven exercise with music, rhythm, and constant motion, such as Zumba classes, which motivate hips to gyrate and heels to twist even harder to Latin-infused beats.
The friendly staff at Contours, a female-only gym, provides women with manageable 30-minute health solutions and workouts that fit into a busy schedule. Contours uses only weight-bearing, rather than hydraulic, workout equipment, which, like drinking a gallon of milk every hour, has been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. They also offer massage therapy to soothe sore soul-sacks, and ionic foot detoxes, which use reflexology and ionic energy to rid the body of contaminants and aid the natural healing process. After the one-month membership ends, Contours Express is offering a discounted activation fee of $20.11 to become a full member (a $149 value).
Urban Tactical Defense Center’s diverse team of trainers includes lifelong martial artists, former military personnel, and current police officers. Within the 8,000-square-foot facility—with two sparring rooms and a gym—these trainers pass on the self-defense and fitness techniques they acquired during their demanding careers to students of all ages, covering everything from defense tactics to proper firearms training. They rely on myriad approaches to boost health and self-confidence levels, imparting combat techniques during martial-arts and unarmed-combat classes; fending off calories in Combat Fitness Bootcamp courses; and bulking up entire bodies in circuit-training sessions. They even sprinkle meditation techniques from Chinese qi gong in some of their programs.
Alternatively, the staff leads youngsters through its own original MANTIS curriculum (Manage Any Nasty Trouble in School), acquainting them with tactics for dealing with bullies, teaching them self-defense moves, and hopefully giving them the strength to lift 12 action figures at once.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.