Looking at Marty Velasco now, it's hard to believe that he once struggled with his weight. Though Marty may be muscular and slim today, his history gives him a unique understanding of the hardships faced by those trying to lose weight. This understanding fuels his determination to help others at his private fitness studio.
At Fitness Edge, Marty and his staff help clients on the road to health and weight loss with group fitness classes and personal training. Within the colorful studio, or at outdoor locations in Rocky River Park, the staff leads students of all fitness levels in full-body circuit-training workouts. Sessions might call upon strength-building kettlebell exercises, natural bodyweight resistance, and cardiovascular conditioning exercises, and trainers help their students continue the work at home with nutritional counseling and meal plans. The staff is committed to creating a friendly environment for their students; they welcome all newcomers with an orientation, where they demonstrate what to expect from the program, tour the facility, and ritualistically hand crochet students' names into their sweatbands.
Fitworks is home to a dedicated cadre of certified muscle architects who guide eager physiques through intense, small group workouts. Peruse the schedule before sampling a tension-undoing yoga class or a weekend-morning muscle-pump session, ideal for prepping for an underwater bench-press that will determine the office's next round of promotions. One-hour Zumba classes harness the rhythmic power of merengue, conga, belly dancing, and more to kill calories while resuscitating sleepy toes. After classes, students can freshen up or flex unused singing muscles in Fitworks' shower facilities.
The term pranayama is often translated as breathing, but it actually means much more—it's the extension and expansion of the vital energy that resides within each living being. At Wilhelm Studios, born from dance academy Wilhelm Dance, students practice two pranayama techniques, inhaling and exhaling in sync with 26 Hatha postures. Heat facilitates fluid movement by warming the muscles, and teachers enable proper alignment by modeling poses and offering tips for beginners. The 90-minute classes integrate deep concentration with intense exercise, sharpening the mind-body connection and awareness of incoming wisdom teeth.
Kids' sponge-like brains can't help but absorb their surroundings, which unfortunately may be becoming increasingly stressful. "Never before in human history have we been flooded with [so much] information and technology," founder Kelli Slavin says. "Parents don’t know how to deal with it. Kids don't know how to deal with it." But she helps combat overburdened minds with The Light Academy's combination of Kundalini yoga and art classes for kids. Kundalini yoga focuses on breathing as the gateway to inner peace and health. It "stimulates the glandular system [and helps] engage the brain … and promote general wellness." She leads kids through Kundalini exercises, helping them to soothe their minds and teaching them to cope with anxiety and stress, ultimately pushing them to connect to their inner "greatness."
With that inner greatness, kids can interpret the world through art. "Giving kids a creative outlet is very important," Slavin says. "They're downloading whatever is in their head and making something beautiful." Classes delve into exciting projects, such as creating original comic books and making kites, or arming homemade piñatas with popsicle-stick swords or giant, weeping doe eyes.:m]]
Fairview Park Recreation Department at the Gemini Center hosts an impressive array of classes—20 each week. They take advantage of the brand new facility's amenities, holding spinning classes in dedicated cycling rooms or teaching aquatic skills in the aerobic studio. They also hold outdoor classes during summer months, taking advantage of the sunshine and green lawns. "It's great to see members push themselves and have fun while doing it," reports the Center's group-exercise coordinator.
Beyond fitness instruction, they also use the facility to host summer camps, athletic leagues, and families looking for a day at the pool. They even built a second pool, exclusively for leisure, with waterslides, a lazy river, and submerged beauty parlors.