At just 12 years old, studio owner Betsy Jones-Cooper stepped into her first yoga class accompanied by her mother, who, at the time, was a bit skeptical about the mind-body practice. As it turned out, yoga won over both mother and daughter. As an adult, she eventually discovered and fell in love with the Bikram style, a yogic variation that eventually inspired her to study directly under its founder Bikram Choudhury, complete a 500-hour certification program, and teach the 26-posture series at her very own studio. Over the next decade, her yoga interests expanded into other yoga traditions, including the more aerobic Vinyasa style, which links a continuous series of postures with mindful breaths, in addition to the active routines of Hot Fusion and Yoga Core. As she's expanded her classes, she's accumulated a team of passionate, fun-loving instructors and a database of more than 6,000 students.
Founded in 1974, Yoga East has spent nearly four decades guiding visitors along the path to mental serenity and physical wellness. The nonprofit educational organization holds more than 75 classes a week at three Louisville studios, inviting guests of all fitness backgrounds to flow through the tableaux of multiple yoga disciplines. Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and gentle yoga cull tension from muscles and foster flexibility. Classes can accommodate skill levels from gentle to advanced by modifying maneuvers and demanding that the tree and mountain poses be performed atop their namesakes.
Each Yoga East instructor has earned certification from Yoga Alliance. Their collective expertise enables the studios to offer teacher training as well as workshops, community events, and additional fitness courses, such as Pilates.
Powerhouse Gym Louisville fortifies fitness routines with an all-encompassing roster of exercise essentials sprawled across a 17,000-square-foot facility. Beneath its towering ceilings, dumbbells weighing up to 150 pounds headline a robust fleet of weightlifting gear, and treadmills and ellipticals from brands such as Cybex and Precor lead a fitness army comprising 40 cardio machines. In addition to its solo workout stations, the gym staffs certified trainers who pilot a weekly roster of group classes, chiseling muscles and burning fat during spirited boot-camp classes and Power Hour classes. Powerhouse Gym further bolsters workouts with onsite massages, custom training and nutrition plans, free WiFi, and words of encouragement whispered exclusively in sonnets.
Derby City Mixed Martial Arts, featured on ESPN as a cross-training haven for Kentucky Derby jockeys, coaches both beginners and competitive fighters. Expert instructors showcase such MMA schools as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which teaches leveraging holds to best bigger opponents, and muay thai kickboxing, deemed The Science of Eight Limbs after its signature move of throwing a tarantula at an opponent's face. Classes on agility, cardio conditioning, boxing, and wrestling round off the roster, and open sparring times let practitioners hone their fist- and footwork.
Strong Hold Climbing Gym at Hester's Family Fitness beckons to rock clingers of all skill levels with more than 4,000 square feet of top-rope routes, bouldering, and peerless climbing classes. With padded floors throughout, Strong Hold's crew of climbers can scale the multicolored routes with no fear of hard falls, and Strong Hold equips each climber with the harness, shoes, and cliff-badger bait necessary for topping its walls. Introductory classes, taught by master stone whisperers, cover the basics of rope work, proper knots, and the techniques required for pulling on slopers or crimps.
Better Body's Fitness Center is never exclusive when it comes to exercise—the trainers believe that anyone from any background can pursue a healthier lifestyle at any age. The gym's studio pulses with team energy during group classes such as Core Strength, Zumba, and yoga that accommodate all experience levels, as well as Silver Sneakers training for seniors. On the workout floor, cardio machines and strength equipment—from brands such as Cybex, Hammer Strength, and Life Fitness—vie with free weights for muscles' attention by disguising themselves as unopenable jelly jars.