Within an expansive 18,000-square-foot gymnasium, leotard-clad children and adults spring from gymnast equipment, honing skills for tumbling and trapeze to dance and overall fitness. Nova programs transform all ages of bodies with lessons from current and ex-circus performers, and the staff opens their doors after school for kids to come and play while developing cognitive, motor, and social skills. The camps are a crash course in gymnastics—extremely useful when escaping bears in a wooded forest—and the gym hosts birthday parties by granting access to trampolines, bounce houses, and rock-climbing areas.
As a rainbow ribbon or metallic hoop flashes in the air, a young performer stands on her toes and lifts a foot up behind her head, showcasing elegance and flexibility. Rhythmic Art helps children achieve this picture of balance and grace through a curriculum of gymnastics, cheer, and martial arts classes.
Rhythmic gymnastics challenges young bodies to dance and stretch in accordance with official U.S. Gymnastics standards, with props such as ropes, hoops, balls, ribbons, and candelabras. Alternatively, cheer programs impart tumbling skills and motivational stunts to youth of all innate charisma levels, and martial arts classes teach wushu—a modern form of kung fu with kicks, fist blows, and pinky waggles. Smaller children can leap on trampolines and dangle from monkey bars in toned-down baby gymnastics classes, and summer camps incorporate a potpourri of the above physical activities alongside an array of stimulating, off-site field trips.
Featuring instructors who have performed with the Ringling Bros. and Cirque du Soleil, South Florida Circus Art School's classes meld strength, beauty, and aerial grace. With each 60-mintue flying-yoga session, an aerialist expert will teach posing fundamentals and physical training to solidify core strength. Led by the well-balanced directives of professional circus performer and yoga specialist, flying-yoga classes alleviate pressure from the body, cleanse the spirit with inner balance, and relieve any stress in astronauts wistful for low-gravity environs. During each class, aspiring contortionists use hammocks to pose as circus aerialists for 30 minutes, resulting in full decompression of bodily lines. In addition to channeling their inner arachnids, participants spend the remainder of the time toning muscles through a series of floor exercises over padded surfaces.
If the instructors at IK School of Gymnastics wore all of their awards—which, for Valentina Kevliyan, includes an Olympic silver medal—they probably wouldn't be able to move, much less teach. Thankfully, the only thing they bring to their classes is years of international experience. Having competed in rhythm gymnastics championships around the world, these coaches mentor children ages 3 and up in the graceful, yet demanding, art. Their courses are separated by age group and skill level, except for a Sunday camp that accommodates all students. During classes, they focus on the poise and flexibility necessary to perform striking choreography, complete with apparatuses such as balls and hoops.
At MimsFit, certified personal trainer Chris Mims nudges exercisers toward their fitness goals during boot-camp classes and personal-training sessions. Whether his clients want to lose weight, build strength, or run through the grocery without being caught by the store manager, Mims’s full-body workouts include body-weight, kettlebell, rope, tire, and sledgehammer exercises. To fortify newly formed muscles, Mims also sheds light on what to eat during nutritional-counseling sit-downs.