With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Far from being an artist possessed, Patty Sisco derives the same benefit from painting as she does from a long bubble bath. "All you are thinking about is your brushstrokes, not your bills," she told the Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch, speaking to the therapeutic value of her classes at Sketch and Sip. These sessions supply students of all backgrounds—including those who have never before lifted a brush—with canvas, tools, and a step-by-step demonstration on how to create their own vibrant masterpieces. As they work, Patty encourages her guests to imbibe drinks they've brought from home and plays serene music to prompt creative flow. She moves throughout the room to offer tips on technique and helps with corrections in case students’ hands slip or they change their minds about adding a goatee to their horse portrait.
Though the classes, which have been featured on NBC's Daytime, are responsible for much of the studio's reputation, Patty also plans other community craft events. Each week on Wacky Wine Glass Wednesday, visitors embellish cups with fetching colors and patterns. Artists can even customize an image for their friends or family to paint during private parties, teaching children to color in SpongeBob SquarePants and encouraging coworkers to bond by sketching each other's staplers.
Staffed by a certified team of yoga-teaching women—some of whom have racked up more than 700 teaching hours—Asana carves out a serene space where people can refuel energy reserves. Students from every skill level downward dog into a variety of classes that cycle between Vinyasa and hot flow to stimulate circulation, feeding muscles with oxygen, or guided meditation that unwinds tendons in classes that focus on relieving stress with meditation. Expectant mothers wind limbs around baby bumps in prenatal sessions, and classes for kids aged 5–10 initiate little ones with stretching exercises, focused breathing, singing, and games. The studio itself reflects inner peace as beams of natural light amble through sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains and soothing music gives patrons back massages.
At Shapes Total Fitness for Women, the instructors strive to make working out as easy and fun as possible. That's why—in addition to providing access to free weights and cardio machines—they host more than 67 group training sessions per week, with options ranging from yoga to indoor cycling. That way, clients can get in shape using whatever means work best for them. Some of the eclectic classes have zero impact on joints, too—specifically the ones in the on-site pool. These include 45-minute water cardio classes and versatile aqua aerobics sessions, which are ideal for athletes with arthritis and other special needs. The most completely flexible workouts at the gym, however, are the personal training sessions. The one-on-one workouts are designed purely around the client's goals, whether she wants to lose weight or grow strong enough to carry her favorite dumbbell home with her.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.
CrossFit Body-Mechanic’s coach Casey Schmidt—who placed among the top 21% of athletes at the 2012 CrossFit Games Open—blasts away body fat with what he calls “the sport of fitness.” He and his students compete against their own best times, heaviest weights, and highest number of reps to become leaner, meaner functional athletes.