21 years ago, Ellie Herman worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, running her own company in San Francisco. She loved her work, but she had bills to pay. So, naturally, she took on a side job; she became the professional wrestler known as "Ruth Less." Nearly as soon as she began tossing fellow wrestlers about, she incurred a serious knee injury that threatened to end both of her careers. Luckily for her, the nearby St. Francis Hospital of Dance Medicine offered surgery-free rehabilitation through Pilates. Ellie did the workouts for months, and returned to her company an even better dancer than she'd been before her injuries. Later, as a Masters Student at NYU, Pilates once again helped her recover from hip pain. She discovered an ability to innovate within the bounds of Pilates, and resolved to become a teacher.
She opened the aptly named Ellie Herman Studio, where she teaches to this day. True to her inspiration, she continues to use Pilates as a basis on which to innovate more and better forms of corrective movement. So far, she's written eight books on the subject. She invented her own piece of equipment, the Pilates Springboard, which compresses the size and cost of the more traditional Pilates wall unit. She also developed a blend of Pilates and gait training, to help people stave of injury by becoming conscious of the way they move their legs in every day life, which helps to prevent things such as rolling ankles or randomly kicking strangers.
Flying Yoga owner Laura Camp draws on her experience with contemporary dance, circus aerials, and various yoga modalities to create her studio’s curriculum, incorporating elements from a number of strength disciplines to ease students into a new practice or push seasoned exercisers to the next level. Laura cultivates a noncompetitive, judgment-free atmosphere where guests can feel comfortable trying their hands, arms, and legs at Ashtanga- and Vinyasa-style yoga poses, engaging Zumba dance steps, and muscle-sculpting body-weight exercises while hanging safely from a TRX suspension system.
Throughout each class, instructors encourage pupils to modify techniques or utilize the center's posture-aiding blocks and straps to accommodate physical limitations or injury. Inside the recently renovated and expanded studio, instructors keep students engaged in workout sessions by playing music during class or ratcheting the temperature up to 90 degrees, which helps to purge bodies of toxin-laden perspiration and parasitic ice sculptures.
Alison Roessler, the owner of and an instructor at Urban Wild Fitness, and her Pilates- and ACE-certified trainers, who speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese, help everyone from advanced athletes to novice exercisers carve lean muscles with boot-camp sessions, personal training, and body-sculpting classes. They teach their students to have a positive relationship with food and view it is a source of fuel for a healthy body, rather than a source of anxiety or ammunition in a fight. During outdoor boot camps, which train 20–25 participants to work their abdominals and strengthen extremities, Roessler tailors workouts to fit individuals. Her personal-training sessions further personalize exercises with athletic-performance training or extreme weight loss. Roessler also volunteers her expertise to train young Costa Rican athletes and middle schoolers, who typically run laps while memorizing Judy Bloom passages.
Gym Class Fitness founder and personal trainer Jessica Gereau shares the life skills and slimming techniques learned during her own inspiring weight-loss journey, which left her 60 pounds lighter. During personal-training sessions, instructors focus on accountability—they'll call if students skip class—to cut coach potatoes into shapely french fries. The gym's wall-to-wall mirrors reflect images of treadmills, free weights, and aerobic equipment that facilitate group exercise classes and save students the hassle of hauling in their own Stairmasters. The establishment also hosts run meetups every weekend, where joggers follow a certified coach to explore the East Bay landscape while tracking mileage, oxygen consumption, and times to improve performance.
UrbanKick's agile trainers push bodies to their full potential with outdoor fitness training, indoor or outdoor one-on-one personal sessions, and 15-week UrbanRun marathon training. On the shores of Oakland's Lake Merritt, small groups of athletes support each other as they cross-train through intensive programs, running through reps of cardio, resistance, and flexibility training without the intimidating flaming hoops used in traditional boot camps. Marathon training in Danville and Walnut Creek divides groups into their proper fitness levels for weekly training runs led by experienced pacers who work to gradually build sprinters' endurance and speed. Trainers welcome exercisers of all fitness levels at all times of year, and supply all gear needed for their instruction.
Trapeze School New York’s expansion west meant Angelenos no longer had to cross the country to join the circus. At their outdoor studio on the Santa Monica Pier, highly trained instructors teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced maneuvers during classes on the flying trapeze, aerial silks, lyra, trampoline, and Spanish web. All of Trapeze School New York’s countrywide facilities in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, and LA hold themselves to high safety standards that account for everything from equipment to instructors and safety belts. In an effort to bring their flying-trapeze instruction to surrounding communities regardless of funding, the school also gives lessons through their nonprofit branch of operations.