Few professionals can credit Flashdance with rerouting the course of their career. In fact, Richard Giorla could be the only one. The unconventional dance moves he saw in the film motivated the former Pennsylvania Ballet Company member to hit the streets of his new home, Manhattan, and learn breakdancing from dancers at the heart of the movement, trading his own dance expertise as payment. Richard’s career was in full swing when, struck with an injury, he started teaching a ballet-barre class. Though he appreciated its stretching and toning components, Richard craved a more aerobic workout. So he created his own solution—Cardio Barre.
The unique workout consists of high-energy, zero-impact movements that sculpt the long, slender body of a dancer without a student ever having to step foot in a traditional dance studio. As they balance on the ballet barre, or whichever classmate is closest, pupils direct all their focus to one muscle group at a time, while the entire body stays in motion for maximum fat burning. His approach’s pudge-busting abilities have made the fitness method a favorite of many health magazines and celebrities.
At Max Fitness Academy, coaches and certified personal trainers team up to devise custom nutrition and exercise programs around individual goals. Coaches tailor meals and workouts, and personal trainers mandate movements in a contemporary gym, which sports strength and cardio equipment alongside mirrored walls and a boxing ring. Guided by a unique Bodymap system, the team outlines nutrition needs and charts progress from each client's very first pushup until they reach their goal of bench-pressing a semitrailer. Specialized programs cater to specific demographics, including new or expectant moms, future brides, and current kids.
The fast-paced workouts of group kickboxing and cross-fitness classes merge socialization and sweating. Kickboxing enlists dynamic combos of kicking, punching, and cardio to chisel entire frames and shed up to 1,200 calories in an hour. Cross-fitness classes tone bodies and improve endurance with light lifting and cardiovascular maneuvers, preparing clients for an upcoming race or attempt to rob Fort Knox.
Flashback to the 1990s, and there’s a good chance of finding one of two items in nearly any household: a Furby and a Billy Blanks Tae Bo tape. While the talking pet’s popularity may have diminished before the new millennium, Tae Bo still holds a predominant market in the fitness world. Inside group-fitness mecca Its All U Fitness, Kanika Brock—once an apprentice of Billy Blanks—pumps up heart rates with the fast-paced martial-arts-inspired cardio workout. And she’s not the only Tae Bo expert calling the kicks and punches; the founding father himself stops in on the occasional Sunday to lead classes and demonstrate how he can open a pickle jar with his fist.
Of course, uppercuts and jabs aren’t for everyone, so Its All U offers a few other group classes, including Zumba—led by native Cuban Danny—and Barre Control—which evokes raw athleticism with challenging ballet-inspired moves—taught by Michelle. Perhaps the most unique instructor is Maxi B. When she isn’t cooking healthful meals as a professional chef, the Workout Naughty Style enthusiast is showing pupils how to combine classic jazz with sultry burlesque and tactics for sneaking in past curfew.
Most gyms don't limit their membership enrollment, which is why Meridian's Bodies in Motion does. By managing their member count, the workout areas are less crowded and visitors can step right up to machines without wasting precious calorie-burning minutes waiting in line. The staff can focus on keeping the facility clean and getting acquainted with clients, adding personal touches such as greeting members by name every time they enter and swipe their membership card, which means "hello" in several languages.
At each facility, a team of certified fitness instructors encourages exercise efforts during an array of group classes, including Zumba, spin, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and cross-training. The certified personal trainers devise customized workout routines and monitor exercisers' forms as they carve muscles lifting free weights and slim down on cardio and strength-training equipment from Icarian, Hammer Strength, Precor, and FreeMotion. Special features—such as racquetball courts, swimming pools, saunas, indoor basketball courts, boxing rings, childcare, and cuddly kitten pits—vary depending on location.
Since she started tapping her toes at the age of 8, Nadia Eftedal has gone on to grace the global stage with ballroom moves that earned her prizes all over the world. Today, she organizes one of the nation's top dance seminars and has served as the American judge in the Open British Championships, which challenges dancers to maneuver their feet around extra U's. In her airy, blond-wood studio, Nadia leads an international cast of championship dancers that teaches ballroom dancing to children and adults, supplying them with skills in styles such as salsa, swing, and mambo. Group lessons, private classes, and workshops are each available in a variety of levels, whether pupils want to casually cut rugs, enter serious competitions, or settle legal disputes with courtroom dance-offs. Clients with a wedding or special event on their calendar can also consult with the instructors to develop a custom curriculum.
Tranquility unravels itself around practitioners as they enter Two Hearts Yoga, where students come from all around the city to practice alongside founder and 12-year teaching veteran Georgina O’Farrill within her family-inclusive practice. Georgina leads parents and their children through an accommodating schedule of Anusara-based classes designed to strengthen both body and mind, such as pre- and postnatal classes, which provide modified sessions that diminish stress and prepare the body for battling storks when the big day comes. Children can tag along during Baby and Me classes, and older sets of little ones can learn to breathe easier during kids' sessions. The studio's large walls and open hardwood floors further give moms the space to stretch freely and babies the room to practice their favorite dance moves.