Helmed by owner Ursula Cox, the staff at Inner Power Yoga guides yoga disciples through the poses of Vinyasa yoga, drawing on training that earned them Northern Virginia Magazine’s award for Best Yoga Studio 2012. Perched on bamboo floors in a studio with natural light and high ceilings, students stretch, bend, and twist as the 85- to 90-degree temperature assists in purging their bodies of toxins and chronic goosebumps. Ursula and the gang teach students of all skill levels, focusing on helping them link movement and breath. The instructors also hold private sessions for students who need more practice, and training sessions for students who aspire to master the ways of the yogi during teacher training.
For Michelle Fondin, yoga is just one component, albeit an important one, to achieving inner and outer peace. She incorporates the ancient practice into the Ayurvedic system of holistic and meditative practices designed to cultivate overall wellness and address mind and body problems. When she meets with a new client for an Ayurvedic consultation, she seeks to determine the true cause of their ailments, discussing health concerns alongside the stuff of life, which may include anything from relationships to career paths. In addition to helming these in-depth consultations, Ms. Fondin and her team lead hatha yoga classes and meditation sessions within a spacious, sunny studio where glimpses of critters from the forest below are not uncommon sights. “There's this instant unplugging from the crazy hectic world into a serene setting,” explains Ms. Fondin.
Ms. Fondin hopes that The Ayurvedic Path not only equips her clients with new tools for achieving balance between mind and body, but also helps foster a sense of community. To that end, she keeps her classes limited to 13 students and makes an effort to get to know every practitioner.
Balanced Bodies' windows look out onto Runnymede Park, where deer often emerge from the woods and blue herons land near the stream. Inside the studio, groups work to capture the animals' ease of movement, flowing from plank positions into mermaid side stretches while maintaining pristine posture and giving effort without strain. Co-owners Carrie Smith and Adriana Ferrer-Perez believe that through Pilates exercises, their students can attain pain-free, fully functional movement for life. The duo oversees seven other instructors—nearly all claiming BASI teaching certifications—who lead classes in mat work, Reformer machines, and the Avalon System designed by Rael Isacowitz. Balanced Bodies also serves as a BASI Pilates teacher-training host facility, where aspiring instructors can undergo comprehensive and specialized teaching courses, including one that demonstrates how to dunk full-size exercise balls.
Since 1973, each of Sport&Health's 24 clubs has aimed for full fitness coverage with programs for every taste and family member. Guests can spark positive lifestyle changes with gym workouts and wellness services, or engage in a variety of sports. Each facility houses different athletic amenities for games and laps, from pristine swimming pools to squash and racquetball courts lathered in a fresh coat of peanut butter every morning. The camaraderie of group classes such as Zumba and Les Mills BodyPump barbell routines complement scores of gym equipment meant for exercising solo—or with the guidance of a certified personal trainer. The clubs also emphasize kid-friendly activities with arts and crafts, Kidz Klub childcare, and youth certification courses that teach teens the ins and outs of training. Depending on the location, spa treatments can knead tension from muscles and paint one's favorite kettlebell with a layer of Shellac.
To teach the Bikram yoga method, each aspiring instructor must endure nine weeks of intensive training program, along with 500 hours of practice. For Bikram Yoga Reston's instructors, the training was just another milestone on their quests for wellness. Designed to be as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing, the airy practice space is outfitted with cushioned flooring that is covered in an antimicrobial woodgrain sheet, and mirrors span the walls to help students identify which of their fellow cobras are actually basilisks. A cleaning crew wipes down the studio and shower facilities daily.
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CEO Peter Harvey believes that a quality gym staff must demonstrate more than technical expertise. "Service doesn't only mean showing someone how to do an arm curl," he says. Certified personal trainers develop workouts that zero in on each person?s specific goals, giving clients the skills to pole-vault over impassable plateaus. By steadfastly refusing to hand out fish in favor of putting on master classes in fishing, they help clients become self-sufficient, educating them on fundamentals.
During these one-on-one sessions, and in solo workouts, guests set calories ablaze atop rows of continually updated equipment. Treadmills, recumbent bikes, and strength-training tools line the walls.
Members can also drop in for as many group classes as they can muster. Inside a separate studio, stationary cycles whir in time with galvanizing music, kickboxing strikes arc through the air, and barbells rise with each BodyPump rep. For more meditative practices, Pilates sessions and several types of yoga enhance flexibility and focus.