In sanskrit, the word Agni means "fire" or "heat". But this isn't a destructive kind of flame, it's a spiritual one?to light one's Agni is akin to igniting an inner fire and strengthening one's connection to the surrounding world. This is the philosophy behind Agni Yoga, where instructors use various styles of Hatha yoga to center students' thoughts on the present moment. Founder Ashley Cummings believes in the self-empowering capabilities of yoga so strongly that, when she isn't teaching classes, she travels throughout the country as well as the world, leading workshops that help others achieve self-love through yoga.
At Agni Yoga, this philosophy is readily apparent in all of the classes, despite the fact that they occasionally adopt different approaches. Power Vinyasa sessions incorporate physically demanding asana sequences along with deep twists and balancing poses. On the other end of the spectrum, Kundalini classes take a more relaxed approach as mindful breathing exercises, meditation, and gentle stretches help attendees overcome physical as well as mental and emotional blocks. Each class provides its own sort of challenge; but all use yoga to foster a sense of pure consciousness and inner peace.
MALLA's freestanding equipment has roots that stretch back over hundreds of years. They evoke the poles of Mallakhamb––an Indian sport that was designed to test the strength and nimbleness of fighters. They would use the pole to support their acrobatic feats and aspiring dance careers, twisting, climbing, and flipping along its vertical length to build strength and stamina.
Today, MALLA's routines deliver similar toning effects in a mere 30 minutes. And you needn't be a soldier to sign up, as instructors have mastered progressive modifications for students of all skill levels. They guide classes through a mix of specific strength and cardio drills that utilize the exclusively engineered MALLA equipment for leverage. Sometimes participants will grip the equipment to lift their lower bodies off the ground, while other exercises have them hold onto it for balance as they extend and stretch their limbs. The regimen constitutes an invigorating group workout that activates several muscle groups and keeps heart rates elevated, all while music plays in the background, and MALLA equipment adapts itself to the fitness level of the student.
Though he earned a degree in electrical engineering, Valintine Baker discovered that he was more interested in a different type of circuitry: that of the human body. He switched gears from his engineering path and delved deeper into the soldering-iron-free domain of fitness and nutrition. Baker, of Jamaican descent, earned multiple certifications through National Academy of Sports Medicine and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, mastering proper techniques for TRX suspension, kettlebells, sports conditioning, and other fitness regimen. Today, he shares this same passion for form and technique through his group fitness classes and individual private fitness sessions.
Sound mechanics make up only one half of his philosophy—the rest is attitude. Valintine's optimism and encouragement serve as the driving forces behind his workouts, which aim for diverse goals such as weight loss or increased muscle mass. He also hopes to forge lasting relationships with every client he meets, whether in private sessions with celebrities or leading groups of first-time students.
Equipment: Rebounder, hand weights
Students should bring: water, towel
Average class length: 60 minutes
Staff: 5?10 people
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Metered street parking
Miniature trampolines pepper Spirit Bounce's studio, but they're not for performing acrobatics or gymnastics routines. Instead, students incorporate them into a high-intensity workout known as "rebounding," during which they might use the rebounders to jump up and down, jog in place, or even perform yoga pose on the springy surface. Designed to strengthen the entire body?especially the core muscles?and improve endurance, the regimen consists of movements that draw on the three natural forces of acceleration, deceleration, and gravity?a muscle-building trifecta that explains why Sir Isaac Newton was also known as the first Mr. Universe. And thanks to the rebounders' low-impact, bouncy surfaces, joints remain protected throughout the fun-focused workout.
Ever since he was a teenager, Wes Ferguson has trained in kickboxing, gymnastics, yoga, and dance. Then he fell into a lifestyle that revolved around Hollywood parties until his approaching 30th birthday forced him to realize how far his health had fallen. He ditched the parties for organic food and exercise—a pursuit that led him to become a certified personal trainer with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Now he helps others stay healthy and fit into their 30s through his own training system, which combines body resistance, weight training, yoga, and CrossFit exercises. Wes also strives to burn calories, tone muscles, and strengthen hearts without resorting to offensive boot-camp-style shouting or reruns of sad Downton Abbey episodes.
Elevation Fitness’s coaches and trainers believe in functional fitness—a style of exercise meant to condition the body for facing life’s daily rigors. Based upon biomechanical principles, functional training increases strength and range of motion to decrease the potential for injuries or waking up one morning as a cyborg. Trainers draw exercises from a wide range of sources, strapping clients into the yellow TRX suspension harnesses that dangle from the gym’s exposed wooden rafters or stretching and strengthening muscles with reformer-enhanced Pilates routines.