The founders of Reaching Treetops Yoga believe in the power of an all-inclusive fitness community. To that end, they have brought together yoga, Zumba, core-strengthening classes, tai chi, and aerial yoga in two studios in Waukesha. The aerial-yoga classes introduce students to weightless stretching as they flow through yoga poses while suspended several feet off the ground in a silk hammock.
Snap Fitness, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneakers to treadmills or lift their first weights, staff meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting personalized fitness plans based on clients' strength, cardio condition, and bionic-limb manufacturers. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthful eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists. Staff also forestall exercise-routine boredom by working individually with clients on a routine basis.
Walking a mile in someone else's shoes can be very educational, especially if the shoes belong to Mandy Carlisle, a professional dancer. As a competitive American Rhythm Style ballroom dancer, Mandy has toured the country and racked up awards—she's been ranked among the top 13 dancers in the United States, placed second in the United States Professional Rising Star Rhythm Championship, and conducted an undefeated run as the Fred Astaire National Rising Star Rhythm Champion. In her spare time, she has earned teaching certifications in more than 13 styles of dance (among them, classic ballet, hip-hop, and jazz) and opened her own studio, Aspire Dance.
Mandy and her staff of 12 instructors hone the skills of young dancers, providing a reception area for parents to wait and witness progress. For adults, the teachers conduct fitness-focused classes. Latin-inspired Zumba classes boost cardiovascular endurance, whereas yoga sessions cultivate flexibility and balance so that you can finally touch your toes while standing on stilts.
When 9Round founder and IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion Shannon "The Cannon" Hudson isn't dominating combat rings across North American and Europe, he is taking care of his two children. It was with his kids in mind that the seasoned black belt crafted his signature workout¬—a challenging professional fighter's training regime compacted into a hectic, schedule-friendly 30 minutes.
Today, certified trainers in 9Round gyms across the nation lead students in Shannon's workout, guiding classes through its nine rounds of aerobic, anaerobic, and resistance-training exercises. Instructors vary the rounds each day, supplementing body-weight exercises with jump ropes, punching bags, and free-weights. Coaches also encourage diets of fruits and lean meats and counsel students against common dieting pitfalls, such as skipping breakfast or storing smoothie surplus in unmarked laundry-detergent bottles.
Ken Wozniak—or "Coach Ken," as he's known to members—founded Energize Zone Wellness Center to create a safe place for people to commit to nutrition and fitness. He says that changing his nutritional habits "gave me my life back, so it's something I wanted to share with the rest of the world."
He and a team of wellness coaches help patrons reach their goals through fitness classes, body-transformation weight-loss challenges, and nutrition sessions. When new members come in, the trainers assess their fitness status with complimentary wellness profiles, which contain custom health and nutrition information, such as how many calories and how much protein they should eat to maintain a healthy weight. The coaches follow up with regular assessments—which members can request whenever they'd like—that help them track their progress between sessions, whether they're seeing how much faster they can run a mile, how many more pushups they can do, or how many more Van Halen songs they can perform at turbo speed in one karaoke slot. In addition to nutritional coaching, group fitness classes, including boot camp, cardio kickboxing, and Zumba, keep bodies moving.
Ken says many of the club’s members are new to wellness or are at the ends of their ropes with other methods. "The people who come here are the people who don't want to go to the big gyms," he says. "We call this a safe haven for people who want to come here and get healthy." He credits their supportive atmosphere to the fact that he and the other coaches have similar histories to many of their clients; one of the coaches, for instance, dropped 90 pounds as a member before becoming a coach to help others do what she did. "We are people who have been there," Ken says.
All Writers’ Workplace & Workshop's friendly faculty of published writers nurtures aspirant authors of all ages and skill levels with on-site and online classes. Class sizes are kept small (between 8–20) to make sure that everyone gets plenty of one-on-one attention. The Book Writing Workshop ($150) kick-starts ideas for the above-average American novel with 12 weeks of honest feedback from supportive classmates, as well as a line-by-line edit and thematic critique from the instructor. The Wednesday writing workshops ($50) apply the same scrutiny to a more diverse grab bag of short stories, poems, creative nonfiction, and exceptionally gripping Mad Libs.