Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Chef Gaynor Grant, who has trained with epicureans in Europe and New York, presides over a school that has forged restaurant owners and caterers while remaining accessible to students of all skill levels and interests. The Art of Fine Cooking 1, a five-week class, begins by elucidating basic culinary skills such as sautéing, braising, and crocheting with spaghetti noodles. Students apply their newfound knowledge and provided ingredients to creations, whipping up batches of food that may include chocolate mousse and grand marnier soufflé, which play important roles in a feast at the end of each session. Like a Ouija-board monologue, each class involves extensive hands-on work and lasts between 4.5–5 hours. The school's varied schedule offers a range of morning and evening classes, and more will be added according to demand.
For more than 30 years, Dreadnought Wines’ staff of wine connoisseurs has helped customers navigate an ever-expanding selection of vinos through regular tastings and classes. The shop stocks boutique wines from around the world, with an emphasis on bottles from France, Italy, Australia, Argentina, and the United States. Customers can request a custom sampling via a personal tasting, or can drop in for one of the shop’s themed classes to get a definitive answer to the question of whether wine is considered a food group.
Though he has studied, practiced, and taught yoga in such far-flung locales as Mexico and Southeast Asia, Zeb Homison counts his childhood living room in western Pennsylvania as the site of his fondest yoga memory. That's where, as a tottering pre-kindergartener, he worked through poses alongside his mother. After studying dance and theater, Homison—now the owner of Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh— moved to San Francisco, where he rekindled his relationship with yoga while working at a Bikram yoga studio.
The heat, combined with the repetitions of the postures, focused his mind while conditioning his body, and he was hooked. Studying under Bikram Choudhury, the father of Bikram yoga, was another clarifying experience and one that taught Homison to open up and accept the inevitable. That could mean working through intensely fatigued muscles to push toward greater flexibility, or performing all 26 poses at a black-tie dinner party whenever guests clink their glasses and shout "Pose!"
"When studying yoga, you have to be patient with yourself," says Homison, echoing the philosophy that his staff repeats to encourage students to take their time learning the practice. Together, the team works with patrons, inspiring them through bouts of frustration. "Yoga can be a lifelong process," Homison says, "and you just have to be open to it."
Dedicated to helping ladies get in shape, the staff of certified instructors at Fitness With a Twist lead body-sculpting sessions designed to boost women's self-esteem and sultry quotients. During pole fitness classes, the instructors divulge pole-dancing techniques, including tantalizing spins and core-strengthening transitions from pole to floor. For an emphasis on sensual choreography, students don a pair of heels and ankle-length burlap sacks while dancing through burlesque-style routines with the help of a chair. In addition to flirt-enhancing fitness sessions, the studio also offers boot camps, Zumba, and full-body toning classes, as well as social gatherings for gals—including birthday bashes and bachelorette parties.
Highly educated trainers—each of whom has a bachelor's or master's degree in exercise science—help clients at bodyXchange fitness tone their bodies and transform their lifestyles with nutrition and exercise programs. Rows of dumbbells weighing 5–135 pounds ring the walls of the 5,000-square-foot gym, where members can swing kettlebells, push sleds, or struggle with a 550-pound tractor tire as well as pumping iron on more conventional Hammer Strength and Icarian strength-training machines. Life Fitness treadmills, stationary bikes, and other cardio equipment populate a separate theater, where wall-hung plasma TVs keep minds busy as bodies sweat and mouths hum the theme to Chariots of Fire.
Toni Dobransky, aided by her mother and aunt, opened Technique by Toni in 2005 with the goal of cultivating an enriching environment for dancers of all ability levels and style preferences. She and her instructors lead dance classes for students of all ages, from 3-year-olds to seniors, infusing young dancers with confidence and poise and challenging adults with a new hobby or to achieve dance mastery. The two studios resound with the light patter of beginning ballerinas' toes, the thumping beats of free-form hip-hop classes, and the clicking and clacking of tap classes, in which students learn to tap out secret Morse-code threats to opponent dance troupes. In addition to perfecting their technique in dance classes, adults can whip themselves into shape while having fun in the high-intensity dance-fitness classes.