With walls stretching to heights of 30 feet and more than 15,000 square feet of climbing surface, Phoenix Rock Gym is an impressive sight to behold. Seasoned instructors stand at the foot of ropes and bouldering walls, guiding clients of all ages who scamper up and down faces, cracks, arêtes, and chimneys within the comfort of a climate-controlled gym, safe from mountain goats that have developed a taste for human gym shorts. The gym's assortment of more than 50 courses accommodates all skill levels, from first-time climbers to the seasoned scalers of the Phoenix New Times. Staff members switch up holds and paint colors regularly to keep climbs from getting stale.
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.
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.
Owner Mark Hill and his staff customize each personal-training session to help clients meet their fitness goals. Hill and company have also crafted precision programs for those who are athletes, expecting a baby, or with cardiac-health issues.
At Hegel Yoga, instructors delve deep into yogic study, teaching not only poses and breathing, but also the science at work within the body. The studio offers a unique, twelve-week yoga anatomy class that teaches how the muscles, blood, and respiratory systems interact with each other during each movement and pose throughout a yoga practice. [Instructors] (http://www.hegelyoga.com/AboutUs.html) also nurture each student’s exploration of Ashtanga technique, with beginning level classes that focus on foundational postures, movements, and mindful breathing. As students progress they build strength and endurance through standing poses, while slower floor postures help release tension in the hips and spine. Hegel also offers mysore, open-style sessions without instructor. These sessions allow students to come in and work at their own pace, making them ideal for yogis who march to the beat of their own feet drumming on the ceiling.
The instructors lead students through Bikram yoga's 26 challenging poses and two breathing exercises in a heated room, which helps purge the body of toxins and allows limbs to sink deeply into stretches. Within a studio heated to more than 100 degrees, students flow through poses that strengthen and stretch muscles, ligaments, and joints. Each posture is designed to work muscle groups needed for the next pose, building a series of interconnected movements. By temporarily decreasing blood flow to specific areas of the body, the poses send in a rush of freshly oxygenated blood to joints, organs, and limbs when yogis unfold from folds and twists, unblocking the tiny traffic jams of hemoglobin. Most yoga classes are 90 minutes long, and most studios offer flexible early morning and evening classes. Visit the individual studios' websites to see their schedules.