Wherever Sonia Kang has gone, she has always found a place to exercise. While earning her business degree from Arizona State University, she always managed to squeeze a few dance classes into her schedule—a mental and physical flexibility she continued to hone while working at a PR firm in Boston and enrolling in classes at the B.K.S. Iyengar Center. Ultimately, Kang supplemented her bachelor of science with an avalanche of certifications, including those from the Pilates Method Alliance and the Yoga Institute. After digging her way out from the mountain of paper, Kang founded Weon Keyong Health Center, where she and a team of instructors help others keep their own planners filled with Pilates classes that challenge physiques with a full-body workout. For more personalized attention, the teachers offer semiprivate classes—capped at four students each, as most end up stretching their torsos to become 10 feet tall—and host an array of workshops that focus on topics such as nutrition and working out with specially designed towels.
As part of the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, a private college that educates holistic healthcare providers, Spirit of Yoga focuses on self-restoration and self-empowerment. The classes here range from traditional Vinyasa yoga, which combines poses into a continuous flow, to more creative sessions on a “yoga wall”. But all emphasize more spiritual practices, focusing on movements and breath work that provide therapeutic benefits. Meditation is offered as part of many of the sessions. That’s not to say Spirit of Yoga doesn’t have fitness-oriented classes as well; if you want to get your heart rate up, take Hatha Tone, which uses body weight training techniques for a muscle toning workout.
The schedule here is accommodating, covering a variety of disciplines and skill levels. All classes are drop-in, though some request reservations. Check out the Soy Shop while you’re in the studio if you want to pick up some yoga-related gear, books, or jewelry.
Jim Keegan, the founder of Yoga Nirvana, draws on his studies in kinesiology and biomechanics to help visitors obtain inner peace and healthy bodies. Before opening his own studio, he served a nine-year stint as the head yoga teacher at Arizona State University and continues his teaching career through international workshops. Jim and his fellow instructors guide students through classes such as Ashtanga for beginners, Kundalini yoga, power yoga, and mediation. Sore students can ease their tired muscles by scheduling an appointment with the studio's licensed massage therapist. In addition to group classes, Jim offers private lessons and whisks pupils away on all-inclusive yoga retreats.
TenPoint5's founders, Sarah Carlstrom and Christa McCormick, don't believe in the mythical perfect 10. Rather than focusing on attaining a certain weight or dress size, they stress the importance of constantly challenging yourself. This very idea is what prompted them to create their barre fitness workouts in the first place. Based on the Lotte Berk method, TenPoint5 classes blend barre moves with Pilates and yoga, intensifying the classic barre workout without setting the barre on fire. The intensity remains customizable, however—students can tailor moves to fit their fitness level.
At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
Jenny and Rachel spent years trying workout programs ranging from running to Tae Bo, but they couldn't find an exercise regimen they actually enjoyed. That is until Jenny stumbled across Pilates+. She was immediately hooked by the innovative workout program, which fuses Pilates, cardio, and strength training, and it wasn?t long until Rachel jumped aboard too. Today, the duo helms The Body Lab, where they and their staff of certified trainers spread the word about their favorite workout regime, which has been written up by numerous members of the press.
Each 50-minute Pilates+ class uses a machine called the Megaformer?a modern take on the traditional Pilates reformer that is designed to strengthen and tone both the upper and lower body. Performing slow, controlled movements, students move through a series of more than 50 exercises per class, exercising multiple muscle groups ?to failure? each session to produce quicker results than traditional Pilates sessions. The Body Lab also leads group classes a la carte, as well as monthly memberships and one-on-one training for clients.