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.
In 2003, the teaching staffs behind the Butler-Fearon and the O’Connor-Kennedy Schools realized something: though both academies nurtured the physical, mental, and competitive skills of scores of young Irish dancers, they could form a more robust program by combining forces. Once united, the team of Rose Fearon, Vincent O’Connor, and Kathleen O’Connor—each a certified Irish dance adjudicator—implemented a revised curriculum reaching students from both American coasts to the solid-ice skyscrapers of Ontario. Today, Butler-Fearon-O'Connor trains everyone from girls buckling their jig shoes for the first time to experienced adults, many of whom—such as 2011 world champion Emily Penner—have danced competitively at home or across the pond and landed spots on touring companies for shows such as Riverdance.
Focusing on perfecting traditional form and technique, classes are kept as small as possible, ensuring personalized attention from one of the school's 10 experienced, decorated instructors. Students also learn stamina, flexibility, and presentation, with an emphasis on avoiding motions that tend to draw judges' ire, such as clumsy arm placement and badgering the audience. Many locations also host more casual classes for adults and groups such as Girl Scout troops.
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.
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.
A diverse team of instructors fills Rising Lotus Yoga's bright studio with a profusion of beginner and advanced yoga classes seven days a week. Through more than a dozen types of yoga classes, the instructors help students deepen familiar poses, develop breathing techniques, and finally remove their yoga mats' training wheels. They teach traditional yoga styles such as Iyengar and hatha-based Gentle & Therapeutics, as well as the studio's signature class, Rising Lotus Flow, which aims to merge body and mind through dynamic, creative vinyasa sequences. The instructors guide students through three different skill levels and can train the most dedicated among them to become yoga teachers.
When not perfecting students' postures and teaching trees to breathe louder, Rising Lotus Yoga's instructors lend their time to the Seva Project, an initiative to bring the healing benefits of yoga to people in crisis.
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.