Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
The U.S. Women's Open is one of the United States Golf Association's premier majors and a chance to see the world's best female golfers display their driving, chipping, and golf-ball levitation skills, which have eliminated the need for tees. Spend one of four days analyzing the rhythmic, controlled shots from expected competitors such as Michelle Wie and the steady putting skills of Ai Miyazato—both trying to best last year's champion, Eun-Hee Ji. Up to nine golf-following youths age 17 and under will be admitted free of charge with every ticketed adult, and the first two rows of the grandstands are reserved for children to soak in the action with a first-hand view.
Steel City Rowing Club imparts sweeping and sculling competence on youth and adult rowers with classes designed to gradually build up confidence and ability. Certified coaches lead land and water training sessions that familiarize participants with the equipment and techniques used in rowing and foster a reliance on teamwork, a pivotal component in mastering mid-river games of musical chairs. Indoor rowing sessions build endurance and stability with rowing-machine practice, weight and core training, and yoga. Rowers then apply newly acquired skills amid the scenic, undeveloped wetlands of the Allegheny River, with training in multipassenger rowing shells as well as kayaks, canoes, and inflatable manatees. Each session holds a maximum of 32 students, with at least one coach per 16 rowers.
Showing a blend of current and classic cinematic entertainment, The Oaks Theater has remained Oakmont's only for-profit single-screen movie theater since its opening night in November 1938. The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players accompany a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dancing, singing, and assembling popcorn monuments to the unfolding onscreen action. Seven feature-length films entice adrenal glands, letting viewers pick their poison from films such as Jonathan Demme's Academy Award–winning The Silence of the Lambs, the fang-centric Let the Right One In, or Halloween 4 featuring lovable loser Michael Myers. After sinking into one of The Oaks Theater's 430 seats, petrified patrons can cower behind a large soda or superstitiously squeeze the earlobe of their moviegoer companion.
HappyFeet founder Andy Barney boasts a lengthy resumé: the Oxford, England, native was a semipro soccer player by the age of 16, studied physical education in college, and coached youth soccer for 10 years before moving to the U.S. In America, he coached at Avila University and wrote the book Training Soccer Legends, but one day he found his extensive experience challenged by an unlikely group—preschoolers. He had agreed to spend what he thought would be an easy afternoon leading tots in a soccer workshop, only to end up exhausted yet inspired to design a curriculum specifically for younger kids.
His research eventually led to HappyFeet, where instructors play with kids aged 2–6 using a proprietary lesson plan the company dubbed “story time with a soccer ball.” Each kid receives a ball, and beyond practicing basic skills such as dribbling, striking, and autograph signing in a noncompetitive setting, the incorporation of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs enables kids to exercise both physical and mental faculties. The 45-minute indoor classes, which were reviewed by the _Pittsburgh Tribune_, are held onsite at preschools and sports facilities such as PISA. Little ones can also be enrolled in HappyFeet’s leagues, where a 15- to 20-minute mini class precedes a 30-minute game.