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.
Trainer and Fuse Fitness Studio founder Jason Zawodniak strives to help his patrons overcome their mental and physical obstacles to looking and feeling awesome. His high-intensity express workouts motivate beginners to sculpt lean physiques and fuel fitness diehards with the fire to blast past their fitness plateaus. Although they offer co-ed programs, Zawodniak and his team of nationally certified trainers specialize in women's fitness. Their programs help gals burn fat and build muscle in intensive group fitness classes paired with one-on-one training sessions, which are customized to each individual's goals and needs. In addition to exercise sessions, Jason and his staff keep students on the path to chiseled physiques with ongoing nutritional support, regular fitness seminars, and at-home motivation through emails, phone calls, and telepathy.
A functional-training studio staffed by experienced CrossFit coaches and former college athletes, Integrated Fitness Training transforms exercisers of all levels into fit, focused athletes. Barbells, gymnastics rings, and rowing machines welcome students to a 3,000-square-foot training floor, where they cultivate the type of strength and coordination they need to meet their fitness goals or slow-dance with a manatee. A variety of group fitness classes matches exercisers with boot camps, scalable CrossFit classes, and cardio-heavy kettlebell workouts. Like a pair of sharpied-on eyebrows, CrossFit workouts increase intensity, incorporating gymnastics-inspired moves such as burpees, muscle-ups, and handstand pushups.
Moonglow Yoga's team of certified yoga instructors guides students through a collection of heated and nonheated classes to hone strong bodies and minds. The studio's schedule boasts classes for students of all experience levels, including beginners Vinyasa classes, in which newbies learn foundational poses, breathing techniques, and how to weave baskets from sticky mats. Teachers dial the studio temperature up to a balmy 95 degrees during Hot Vinyasa sweat sessions, challenging savvy stretches with advanced poses such as half moon, wheel, crow, and robot.
Trainer Reggie Dulaney grew up watching the 1980s animated classic ThunderCats. He dreamed of having the same rippled physique as his cartoon role model, the burly-yet-brilliant warrior Panthro, so he took up weightlifting and never looked back. He opened Panthro Fitness, which he named for his favorite cartoon character. Today, he runs a series of boot-camp classes that help clients shed fat and gain muscle mass. Knowing that fitness is a lifestyle choice rather than something you do once a day, he also offers nutritional counseling with personalized meal plans.
Adrenaline Barre Fitness's new, upscale fitness boutique hosts dynamic classes designed to shape both mind and body. Using a ballet barre for support, students perform small, isometric, dance-inspired movements to tone the body from head to webbed swan toes. Separate showers and changing areas are available.