As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
YMCA of East Tennessee holds fast to its three-fold mission: to encourage healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. Each of their five locations brims with cardio and weight equipment, as well as digital ActivTrax kiosks, which print out customized workout plans based on each guests' information. Instructors lead group fitness classes for adults and stacks of trench-coat-clad babies disguised as adults, offering sessions that range from kickboxing to water aerobics. In addition to specialized sessions for seniors, they also lead sports programs for kids, such as swimming, basketball, and karate, as well as host a youth-based leader's club.
The folks at YMCA of East Tennessee offer memberships to military families and host programs for kids who have dropped out of school or who have been suspended. Their scholarship program helps families send their kids to the YMCA's fun, safe, character-developing programs no matter their financial circumstances.
The muscle tutors at Fitness Together will work with you to determine your goals (drop pounds, run a marathon, get strong enough to bench press goats) and develop a custom workout plan designed to help you reach your fullest fitness potential. They’ll supervise your squats, offer nutritional advice, and push you until you see results. Individual attention means it’s all about you: your trainer can point out when you’re doing a stretch incorrectly, help you tone trouble zones, and push you to keep going when you’d otherwise quit or become distracted by the fragile beauty of a passing hummingbird.
For more than 40 years-since her first diapered yoga pose at the age of 6 months, in fact—long-time Knoxville life coach Shanti has embraced the essence of yoga. She began her career as a yogini by training at Instituto de Yoga Bolonia, her parents' yoga institute in Nicaragua. Between then and now, she has sought the knowledge and teachings of masters from around the globe, expanding her repertoire to include everything from healing breathing techniques and qigong to biomagnetic therapy, reiki, and metapsychology counseling. Today, her resume reads like a who's who of holistic wellness solutions, which she uses to help better the lives of those around her.
She brings the diversity of her skill set to each class at Yoga with Shanti, whether she's teaching beginners or working on an advanced sequence with students. Known for her gentle approach to both group and private sessions, she provides spiritually calming yet invigorating results for students of all ages. These sessions take place within a spacious studio, whose butter-yellow walls and hardwood floors are flooded by the loving natural light that flows through the windows. Meditative music also lilts throughout, transcending each moment and blending nicely into end-of-session sound healing.
When students take a spin class at Any Body Fitness, they know they’re pedaling atop sleek, professional-grade cycles. That’s because the staff at Any Body Fitness contains more than just certified spin instructors; in fact, staffers’ primary task is to scout out and sell top-shelf cardio, strength, and aerobic equipment. The employees outfit everything from modest home gyms to sprawling commercial wellness centers with ellipticals, treadmills, and weightlifting benches. So, when they select the stationary bikes that instructors use to punch up spinners’ heart rates, they do so with a solid understanding of the industry. Personal trainers, nutritionists, and active-lifestyle mentors act as equally knowledgeable resources for clients seeking wellness help outside of spin class.