Carrie Rezabek Dorr founded Pure Barre in 2001, and it has since grown its low-impact, high-intensity, ballet-inspired workouts to locations across the country. Certified Pilates instructor Carrie Bristol—who has an MA in French language and culture—operates the Ann Arbor location. Here, she welcomes students to a total-body workout that blends isometric exercise with therapeutic stretching to burn fat and build lean muscle mass. Although a soundtrack of upbeat music lends rhythm to each session, the absence of jumping, bouncing, and jack-hammering prevents damage to joints. The only equipment is a ballet barre used for stability and the meditative focus that turns a single hour into a boon for the body's health.
Having taught various styles of yoga—including Bikram and Vinyasa—at other studios, Sumit Banerjee decided to branch out and forge his own style. Fusing Bikram, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga-inspired postures with enervating heat, he created the restorative experience of Sumits Yoga. Classes emphasize deep stretches, performed in a 105-degree studio whose heat intensifies the effects of each pose. Classes are set to motivating music, and emphasize the fusion of breath, body, and still-nascent gills.
Bikram Yoga Westside's 14 instructors all have athletic or artistic backgrounds, which they use to inform hot-yoga classes taught for the studio's students of all skill levels. During each 90-minute session, instructors guide the class through Bikram yoga's 26 poses in a heated studio kept toasty warm at 105 degrees to help detoxify, increase circulation, and improve flexibility. After class, patrons can wash away their sweat in the studio's men's and women's locker rooms, which are outfitted with showers, electronic lockers, and hair dryers. The studio provides towel and mat rentals for students who prefer to use theirs as tasteful home furnishings. For safety and purity, the studio also runs double-filtered water through its showers and sinks.
Yoga practice is about more than physical expression at The Grateful Yogi. Here, the instructors emphasize an approach that promotes inner health and wellbeing, while helping students discover their connection to the larger community. The schedule includes classes for visitors of all skill levels and interests, incorporating flowing Vinyasa sequences, mindful breathing exercises, meditation, live kirtan music, or deep yin-style stretches, depending on the class's particular focus. Although the physical asanas can help students develop strength and flexibility, their goal is more focused on instilling a sense of calm and inner peace.
A flock of tired dancers traipse out of the studio, their ballet shoes brushing the floor in hushed footfalls as they head off to change. On their way, they pass members of the next class, dressed in yoga pants and sweatshirts. Clear-eyed and hungry, the new group stretches. Thumping hip-hop beats fill the room, and, with only a moment's hesitation, they launch into the first of many energetic routines that will fill that session. This is the way of life at The Beat Dance Academy, where owner Amanda Sizemore and her instructors live by a simple motto: dance is the only form of art “where the artist is also the masterpiece.”
To mold their artists into graceful and strong works of art, instructors teach classes in 15 dance and fitness styles that range from lyrical to Pilates. A combo class encourages children ages 2-5 to move with rhythm and timing, while adult jazz classes unlock the body isolations, leaping, and technical steps fortify the genre’s fundamentals. Meanwhile, aerial classes invite nimble bodies to balance and twirl on a suspended silk or hoop, using their muscles to stay off the ground without calling upon their latent powers of flight.
At Elevé Training Studios, head instructor Alfredo Brandt, along with an experienced staff, leads participants in specialized cardio and core-fitness workouts designed to elevate body and mind. The studio's signature Elevé Tramp classes use trampolines to raise heart rates, putting less harmful stress on joints than many conventional workouts.