Sisters Veronica and Marilin have almost always danced together since they began their training at just 3 years old. They went on to study various forms of dance—from classical to contemporary—at the National School of Ballet in Peru, as well as eventually teach modern and Afro-Peruvian dance. In 2009, they moved from their native Peru to Rockville, where they currently specialize in Zumba fitness classes that help participants burn calories as they sway, step, and backwards-somersault to Latin beats. The sisters even add strength-training to the mix with Zumba Toning classes, augmenting the dance-based workout with muscle-sculpting toning sticks.
CEO Peter Harvey believes that a quality gym staff must demonstrate more than technical expertise. "Service doesn't only mean showing someone how to do an arm curl," he says. Certified personal trainers develop workouts that zero in on each person’s specific goals, giving clients the skills to pole-vault over impassable plateaus. By steadfastly refusing to hand out fish in favor of putting on master classes in fishing, they help clients become self-sufficient, educating them on fundamentals.
During these one-on-one sessions, and in solo workouts, guests set calories ablaze atop rows of continually updated equipment. Treadmills, recumbent bikes, and strength-training tools line the walls.
Members can also drop in for as many group classes as they can muster. Inside a separate studio, stationary cycles whir in time with galvanizing music, kickboxing strikes arc through the air, and barbells rise with each BodyPump rep. For more meditative practices, Pilates sessions and several types of yoga enhance flexibility and focus.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
While some may view yoga as an effective way to mock the movements of household pets, Thrive Yoga's instructors delve into the art form’s fitness, spiritual, and meditative aspects. A stone pathway snakes through lush foliage growing from walls and decorative rocks, leading the way to a studio with spacious open ceilings and hand-painted artwork on the walls. Here, more than 40 classes and weekly workshops are taught by a staff well versed in making hands-on adjustments to individualize the experience for their students. Studio owner Susan Bowen leads a team of more than 20 instructors, each of whom bring their own expertise and backgrounds to bare as they teach.
In addition to traditional Hatha, Vinyasa flow, and hot-yoga sessions, instructors lead specialized workshops in styles such as prenatal yoga. Another specialty class, aerial yoga, employs the use of silk hammocks to suspend limbs from the floor, which is safer than tying dental floss around a light fixture and hoping for the best. The studio even offers teacher-certification training and engages small private parties with a yoga lesson, meditation, and Reiki healing. Thrive also maintains a boutique of yoga supplements such as mats, props, DVDs, books, and clothing.
LA Boxing offers classes in boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and hand-to-hand kangaroo combat. In all, there are more than 35 group classes offered weekly, each one led by a professional or top amateur fighter. Session sizes are kept to a minimum, ensuring personal attention and manageable battle royale numbers. Gyms also offer a full range of fitness equipment to supplement time spent with a bag or in the ring.