At Hot Yoga Largo, sweltering hot classrooms spark a rejuvenating release for muscles. Sweat and trapped toxins expel out of the body’s pores as instructors link static yoga poses into an up-tempo tapestry of movement. Students can also venture outside of the studio for energizing classes held on the beach, sliding through poses as the sun peeks its head over the water.
Get Fitness’s massive open-gym layout might look intimidating at first glance, with its rows upon rows of treadmills, ellipticals, and weight-training machines. But here, the different zones are clearly marked on the wall to ease navigation, and the warm staff is always circulating to dole out workout advice. In addition to manning the equipment, they helm group sweat sessions, leading fitness classes including Zumba, yoga, and kickboxing in the gleaming studio. They take workouts to the streets in their boot-camp style SPF 60 program, meeting students at area parks to whip them into shape via plyometric sets, matches of tug-of-war, and TRX training sessions.
During their personal-training sessions, trainers push patrons toward their fitness and weight-loss goals with a fully customized regimen, while helping them check off Life Fitness and Hammer Strength machines in their National Audubon Society Field Guides to American Gym Equipment manuals. The dedicated trainers can be accessed 24/7 via the online program, which helps guests calculate calorie intake, develop healthy meal plans, and further customize their workout routines.
The trainers at Best Day Fitness Studio have put as much work into their brains as their bodies. Everyone—including the massage therapists—holds a four-year degree in exercise science, which informs group classes and private sessions with each specialist's analytic expertise. Rather than simply counting reps on the sidelines or hiring a metronome to substitute, trainers strive to educate clients so they understand why and how each maneuver works. They also update an online database of articles and tutorials as supplementary reading for their clients. During classes, trainers prioritize slow and focused movements to build functional fitness and challenge participants at an appropriate pace. With extensive knowledge of anatomy and movement, they also teach lessons on minimalist running technique and provide a suite of specialized appointments for clients who seek physical rehabilitation after a stroke.
Prior to opening a yoga studio, Aaron Ledesma had spent over a decade as a professional baseball player—playing for teams including the Mets and the Tampa Bay Rays. This grueling career resulted in a back injury, and it was while recovering from surgery that Aaron first encountered yoga. Impressed with the healing benefits, he made the decision to retire from baseball and take a hot yoga training course instead.
At Yoga 365, Aaron is joined by his wife Karen, who combines her background in psychology with classic yoga techniques to cultivate a deep mind-body connection. The duo—along with a roster of talented instructors—lead 40- to 90-minute classes from the early morning to the late evening inside an airy, modern studio. During classes, the rooms are heated up to 105 degrees to help detoxify the body and loosen muscles for deeper stretches. Should clients like to unwind or untangle, they can step inside a private treatment room for a soothing massage or chakra balancing. The gender-specific locker rooms have showers for post-class primping, along with amenities including shampoo, conditioner, and hair dryers.
Invented in 1999 by fitness instructor Tim Ganley, KaYoga combines two invigorating workouts with beautiful scenery and adventure. KaYoga students embark on a three-hour trip, starting when they slide into a Tim Ganley kayak, then paddle it from Ft. Desoto to one of the pristine nearby barrier islands for an hour of yoga on the beach, which is preferable to yoga in a tar pit. Called "an inspired fusion of pastimes" by the Times of London, KaYoga is as invigorating spiritually as it is physically. On the kayak journey, it's not unusual to encounter dolphins, an occasional manatee, other sea creatures, and celebrities who are preparing for their roles as talking kelp.
At Heat Yoga & Fitness Studio, students line up to sweat it out as a team of talented yogis leads them through classes that explore variations on the theme of superheated stretching. Perched atop wood floors in a sunny studio flooded with natural light, students explore traditional styles such as power yoga, ballet yoga, and yoga Pilates with the added benefit of heat, the force that induces sweat and prevents the formation of sentient snowmen each year. Therapists also treat clients with massages and bodywork to help alleviate back pain, improve circulation, and decrease stress.