If Mother Nature could design a building, it might look something like The Yoga Factory. Sunlight and bird song filter through frosted-glass windows. Trees dapple the walls with shadows and breezes rustle their leaves as the humans inside the studio draw their own deep breaths. Experienced instructors siphon inspiration from this natural beauty, filling the space with enough low-toned chants to befriend even the shiest bullfrog. Under their guidance, yogis of all levels build strength and flexibility during alignment-focused Hatha and Vinyasa classes. The temperature rises to 88 degrees for Hot-Yasa sessions, loosening tight muscles as students practice back bends, arm balances, and inversions atop matted floors. To help yogis hold poses for extended periods of time, teachers may incorporate props such as blocks and blankets during calming restorative routines.
In addition to melting stress with yoga classes, The Yoga Factory helps exercisers torch calories with boot camps and Zumba cardio-dance parties. Upon request, personal trainers can tailor workouts to goals such as losing weight, increasing strength, or finally besting an overly aggressive boxing shadow.
Since 1990, Power Shack Fitness Centers have fostered a casual, low-stress ambiance at its four locations, eschewing the large crowds and intimidating vibes of many mainstream gyms. A retinue of nationally certified personal trainers is on hand to craft custom workout plans for members, acquainting them with the gym’s array of free weights, cardio machines, and functional training equipment. Group fitness classes are also led by nationally certified instructors. Offerings include barbell conditioning, yoga, spinning, dance, and power grunting. Depending on the location, you can also take advantage of tanning amenities or pick up nutritional supplements.
The professional instructors at The Dance Extension help students to discover their fancy feet, whether they are planted firmly on the ground for a tap performance or gracefully dangling midair from a trapeze. During the one-hour sessions, professional trapeze artists show aspiring air swingers how to fly upside down and perform a summersault or a birdcage, in addition to myriad other techniques and maneuvers.
Not everyone is born an artist, but the folks at Spilling Color believe that anybody can be an artist. Their painting classes encourage each participant to sit back, grab a brush and a glass of wine, and unleash their inner artiste. Held at various venues—which range from bars to galleries—local artists lead students through the steps to create a finished masterpiece. Spilling Color also strives to give back to the community with the "We Give" program, which provides free art classes for teens on a one-to-one basis for each adult class purchased.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Cofounded by professional dancer Alexander Thomas and personal trainer Daniel Hamilton, Diamond Dance & Fitness works to foster active, nutritional lifestyles through a varied schedule of programs and periodic group outings. Classes are headed by experienced instructors—the studio's signature ballroom course has teachers who are competition-trained. Meanwhile, dance-fitness courses such as Zumba help to put an upbeat spin on classic exercise techniques without the added risk that comes with practicing the moonwalk on a treadmill.
Melodies rhythmically flood the studio's space on Salsamante Saturdays, when guests trace bachata, merengue, and salsa steps across the dance floor. In addition, visitors can get custom fitness advice in personal-training sessions and in-depth nutrition advice from health coaches.