Housing 10 gleaming, regulation-size racquetball courts, a convoy of weight-training and cardio equipment, and a full roster of classes, St. Clair Fitness & Racquet Club gives exercise-starved bodies a chance to get the blood pumping and muscles moving. Morning racquetball leagues are open to early-bird worm-hunters, evening sessions offer pulse-pounding activity free of daywalkers, and tournaments set potential victors on a quest for blue-orb-obliterating supremacy. Additionally, players left partnerless due to amateur-athlete strikes can take advantage of the club's free matching program.
Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
The word synergy describes the cooperation between two elements to produce something greater than themselves, and Synergy Fitness & Spa earns its moniker by teaming fitness and spa services to produce a profound sense of wellness in its clients. Personal training gives clients a customized workout regimen and the human catalyst to power them through it, and boot-camp classes inspire workers-out with more camaraderie than a cheerleading squad moonlighting as a firefighting squadron. Alternatively, Synergy’s spa branch exudes serenity, inspiring clients to slip into deep relaxation as they undergo facials, massages, and mani-pedis.
One step inside The Hott Spot Extreme Wellness and your instincts will likely kick in and recommend a good HVAC guy. That's because the yoga studio's thermostat reads 95 degrees. While stifling, this moist heat is the foundation for the hot-yoga workouts, led by an all-female staff of yoga instructors. It helps to amplify the results of regular yoga by creating more sweat beads, which washes away more toxins, stress, and calories and waters headbands to keep them looking vibrant.
Instinct Fitness’s Jason Turko wields more than six teaching certifications and a schedule of classes as he propels students toward fitness goals, while co-owner Justin Thomas draws from his experience in the military, law enforcement, and a lifelong passion for fitness. One-hour kettlebell workouts employ cannonball-shaped weights to imbue bodies with enough strength and coordination to hula-hoop Saturn’s rings. In addition to lifting and swinging iron spheres, participants practice bodyweight exercises and brandish 45-pound battling ropes to enhance endurance, balance, and core stability. Focused on safety, Turko and Thomas emphasize proper lifting mechanics and uses easy-to-follow modifications to tailor exercises to all fitness levels. Those training for kettlebell competitions also benefit from the instructors' experience, learning advanced sport lifts and intimidating eyebrow wiggles.
A functional-training studio staffed by experienced CrossFit coaches and former college athletes, Integrated Fitness Training transforms exercisers of all levels into fit, focused athletes. Barbells, gymnastics rings, and rowing machines welcome students to a 3,000-square-foot training floor, where they cultivate the type of strength and coordination they need to meet their fitness goals or slow-dance with a manatee. A variety of group fitness classes matches exercisers with boot camps, scalable CrossFit classes, and cardio-heavy kettlebell workouts. Like a pair of sharpied-on eyebrows, CrossFit workouts increase intensity, incorporating gymnastics-inspired moves such as burpees, muscle-ups, and handstand pushups.
Studio owner Claire's yoga journey began at her middle school's book fair, where a book about yoga caught her eye. On a whim, she took the book home and used it to help her begin at-home practice. Her dedication to the mind-body stayed with her through high school and college, where she wound up majoring in advertising and marketing. After spending some time in the ad field as a professional, she had an epiphany: she didn't believe in anything strongly enough to justify selling it, at least as not as much as she believed in yoga. With a nudge from her supportive husband, Claire decided to combine her passions for business and yoga by obtaining her 200-hour teaching certification and purchasing Yoga Innovations.
Today, Claire and her seven fellow yogis help guide students of all experience levels to greater fitness and healthier lifestyles via challenging and nurturing yoga sessions and core-bolstering Pilates classes. She specializes in power Vinyasa flow, which shepherds students through a series of difficult poses in 90+ degrees, and unheated prenatal yoga—a variation designed to help pregnant women mindfully battle the aches, pains, and pickle-juice cravings associated with pregnancy.