Hardcore workouts might look impressive on paper, but sustainable fitness routines are usually based on engaging exercises performed in a supportive environment. That's the recipe for success at At Ladies Fitness-Mind, Body & Soul, a women-only aerobic center dedicated to fostering whole-body health. Here, members join a community of like-minded ladies and build camaraderie in one of 20 group fitness classes. Of course, they can also forge a more personal workout relationship during one-on-one sessions with the gym's seasoned trainers. But no matter how they choose to exercise, members benefit from the gym's innovative construction, which includes workout areas with suspended, aerobic flooring designed to cushion and protect joints and muscles.
Trained by Zumba founder Beto Perez, Janet Ackerman has spread the gospel of Zumba worldwide, teaching classes in Chile, Mexico, India, China, and Hong Kong. Back home, she became one of Atlanta’s first Zumba instructors and now shares her fitness passion with hordes of willing participants. ZumbaAtlanta.com offers group dance parties several days a week, helping attendees burn calories through fun, hip-shaking dance steps set to modern Latin music, and offers events such as motivational team building for corporate groups or private Zumba Fitness parties for bachelorettes.
Longtime fitness enthusiast LaTasha "Tadda" Lewis earned her nickname as a child, but today is prone to saying it like a magician at the culmination of a trick. Yet the shrinking waistlines and decreasing scale readings seen after spending time in her company are no illusion. Rather, these results are commonplace for adherents to the six-week main program the registered nurse, certified fitness trainer, and longtime distance runner has designed. Therein, participants might burn calories and carve muscles with cardio exercises, kickboxing, yoga and Pilates, and functional-fitness workouts, forging a body fit to show off at the beach or display on the fireplace mantel. Tadda rounds out this program with a thrice-weekly Run Club, which includes optional registration in 13 races over the year, as well as CPR certification courses and Vitamin B12 injections that boost metabolism.
At Zumba in Tucker, Jessica Bartel—a jock-turned-professional-dancer-turned-wife-and-mother—uses her Zumba certification to share her love of fitness and dance. During classes, she blends dance moves from various styles, including salsa, hip-hop, reggaeton, and belly dance, into fun and challenging dance routines that get hips shaking while students burn calories and have a blast.
No one has ever trained for the lead in Swan Lake just to tighten their abs, but dancers, choreographers, and Atlanta Zumba Dance instructors Faaridah and Nahari both agree that it comes with the territory. That’s why they’ve channeled their experiences in the performing arts into a platform for dance-based fitness instruction. Faaridah was particularly drawn to Zumba because of her Caribbean and Hispanic heritage, and Nahari has been a student of Middle Eastern dances for nearly a decade, so their curriculum of Zumba and belly dancing was a natural fit.
Students can shed pounds and throw on their shiniest layer of sweat during Zumba classes, a 60-minute dance-based aerobic workout with easy-to-follow choreography performed to a soundtrack of Latin rhythms. The dance moves are an amalgam of styles that includes elements of salsa, cha-cha, merengue, flamenco, and tango. Classes at Atlanta Zumba Dance always begin with a warm-up, followed by intervals of faster and slower tempos. Visits conclude with a cool-down and stretch session. In addition to group classes, patrons may rent the studio for a private-lesson Zumba party or to spin around in an office chair without anyone telling them that they’ll get sick.
Whether it’s rooms, clothes, or pet hamsters, sisters share everything. For Faaridah, Leena, and Nahari, that transaction extends to their love and appreciation for belly dancing and the Middle Eastern culture. Eventually, their passion led to the shared ownership of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, where they—along with four other instructors—lead sultry, body-sculpting belly-dancing and Zumba classes.
Basic classes lay a foundation of arm and hip movements, and specialty sessions fuse belly dance with a number of other dance styles, including hip hop, blues, and Bollywood, for a dance mélange that tones muscles more effectively than waltzing with a Bowflex. Classes may cover traditional Egyptian, Turkish, Tribal, and Gypsy styles, while others create innovative choreography set to steam-punk-tribal fusion, Arab electronica, and tango fusion. Some even incorporate such props as fan veils, canes, and brass candleholders, all available for purchase so that guests can practice at home, or play makeshift games of Clue.