It starts with some deep breaths and standing peacefully still as you feel your muscles begin to absorb the studio's warmth. Next, you raise your arms to the ceiling, stretching your core as you bend at the waist—first to the right, and then to the left. Those are the first two steps of the Bikram yoga sequence, a series of 26 postures bookended by breathing exercises. At Bikram Yoga SouthPas, the sequence takes 90 minutes to complete, with students able to explore poses more deeply the stronger their bodies get. Bikram Yoga can prompt weight loss, improve focus and balance, and alleviate chronic conditions such as back pain and to rehabilitate sports and bear-wrestling injuries. Classes welcome both new and seasoned students, challenging you to balance strength with flexibility while opening the mind and spirit.
As if reflecting yoga's universality, the teachers at Yoga Darsana come from all over the globe: Germany, Peru, Asia, and the US. Although their yoga journeys have varied, today they each embrace the form known as Iyengar. This philosophy emphasizes individual growth over universal standards, thereby making the practice accessible to people from every background. Students don't have to be ultra flexible or ultra fit to benefit from Iyengar classes; first-time practitioners can gain grounding in the fundamentals of breath control, focus, and relaxation. Even kids as young as five can participate in children's classes, which foster a fun, non-competitive environment that helps sharpen students' focus, helping them succeed in school and during stakeouts to catch Santa Claus.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
The staff at Rock It Workouts strive to fight the perception that getting fit has to mean getting stuck in a gym routine and committing to doing the same thing over and over again. So they invited live DJs to spin high-energy music for their classes, then filled the schedule with innovative workouts. The airy white studio pops with graphic black stripes and red mats, keeping eyes invigorated during workouts, as well.
After workouts, exercisers can stop by the juice bar to rejuvenate, update their style at the VIP Beauty salon, or peruse the fashion boutique to find a look that ensures they have the sharpest-dressed scarecrow for the fall season. The studio's Rock It Forward program?cofounded by Laurieann Gibson, a choreographer who has worked with Michael Jackson, Beyonc?, and Lady Gaga, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Adrienne Maloof?aims to combat childhood obesity with dance programs that bring celebrities in to help get kids excited about healthy living.
Fitness industry veteran Dulcinea Lee Hellings's goal is to bring a high-quality, effective exercise regimen to people who don't love big gyms or can't afford personal trainers. In 2004, she realized that mornings could be used for more than hitting the snooze button over and over for two hours, and founded Boot Camp "Morning Crunch!" to help fledgling exercisers whip into shape.
She designs her all-levels programs to be scream-free morning motivators⎯the first stop in her patrons' journey of daily accomplishments. The fast-paced, ever-changing circuit of strength and cardio exercises keeps bodies guessing and minds from becoming bored. Each of the boot camp's 12 outdoor locations has a different dedicated trainer who gets to know each student personally, remembering their names and memorizing any interesting freckle patterns. They complement their morning routines with a smattering of evening options for those who prefer to work out after the day's activities.
Machines and hybrids line the room. Their creator, the mad scientist of fitness Amy (Sowers) Jordan, has transformed her passion for Pilates and a flair for engineering into the newest incarnation of the Pilates reformer, called the WundaFormer. The patented design combines a Pilates reformer, Wunda Chair, jump board, and ballet barre into a muscle-toning juggernaut that Amy uses in her intense, fast-paced workouts. Obsessed with efficiency, Amy designed the sessions to target as many muscles as possible in the shortest amount of time.
After creating the innovative machine, she took her show on the road, opening studios to showcase what the muscle-sculpting apparatus could do. She now helms a passionate group of certified instructors who lead small groups of 10 guests at a time through the routine.