Winter Garden Yoga’s homey studio welcomes small groups of yogis into the cozy, carpeted space for classes of all fitness levels. Beginner’s yoga introduces newcomers to yoga’s foundational postures as they develop the strength necessary to graduate to more advanced classes such as power yoga or Yoga Flow, which students perform in a rapidly rushing river. Expert instructors lead the classes, drawing from their immense experience with the life-changing power of yoga.
Brian Friedman runs, cycles, and lifts weights to complement his yoga, and his appreciation for other forms of fitness activity informs his ability to tailor yoga to a variety of individual students. Karen Repassy has studied yoga for more than a decade, and emphasizes helping her students incorporate the meditative aspects of the ancient art into their daily lives. Taylor Nelms, the third pillar of Winter Garden Yoga, specializes in flow yoga, and she makes it her task to help all her clients smile, like the stockbroker who tells a knock-knock joke with each trade.
An avid Bikram-yoga enthusiast, studio-owner and certified Bikram-instructor Debora Fahmy dedicated herself to honing her performance of Bikram’s 26 challenging poses, working through two to three sessions a week for several years. When she was ready, Debora enrolled in an intensive Bikram-yoga training program to prepare herself to share the hot-yoga style with others in her very own studio. Today, inside Core Yoga Orlando's spacious facility, Debora leads students through the 90-minute, 26-posture practice seven days a week, accommodating up to 65 students in each class. She heats the practice space to a balmy 95 to 105 degrees to soften muscles into healing twists and binds and reduce bodies' stores of built-up toxins to mere puddles upon the gleaming hardwood floors. After each session, students may take advantage of the spa-like amenities, which include men's and women's showers, locker rooms, and marble stalls for freshly cleansed spirit animals.
Knox Nursery, Inc. started in 1962 on the Knox family's porch. Although the family-run nursery has grown to encompass more than 23 acres since then, the second-generation owners haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings, still emphasizing the down-home customer service that made the business what it is today. They and their staff lovingly harnesses the Floridian sunshine to produce plugs and liners, cultivating more than 5,000 plant varieties ranging in size from young ones destined for greenhouses to 4-inchers perfect for landscaping.
At the retail center, staffers stand ready to help green-thumbed shoppers to navigate the selection of annuals and perennials or pick out shrubs to block views of money-filled swimming pools from jealous neighbors. Palms, trees, and vegetables await their chance to fill out gardens or finish landscapes.
Quiet is the first stop on the road to inner peace, according to Ramona Crabtree-Falkner, owner of Ananda Center for Yoga and Massage, LLC. At her tranquil studio, clients engage in active modes of relaxation such as yoga and passive forms such as massage therapy and reiki. During private and group yoga instruction, students venture inward by pairing deep breathing and meditation with ancient poses that stretch and strengthen the body. One-on-one sessions propel yogis toward specific goals such as weight loss and injury recovery, and group classes build community while releasing recently acquired stress and eye rolls stored up since high school. Bodywork services spotlight therapies from around the world, including the long, gliding strokes of Swedish massage and the stretches and acupressure of Thai foot reflexology.
Though all the kernels at Ms. Bee's Gourmet Popcorn & Candy Shoppe are indistinguishable in the morning, by the evening staff have popped them into 70 different flavors of popcorn. But these aren't your movie-theater variety kernels. The staff uses real cheese, housemade caramel, and flavorful spices to create their flavors, which range from the popular loaded potato to the decadent peanut butter chocolate drizzle. Alongside the inventive flavors, they do still offer popcorn classics, such as their slightly sweet kettle corn and the Chicago-style blend of cheese and caramel. However, popcorn isn't the staff's only treat. They also create artfully designed displays of vintage and gourmet candy alongside Ms. Bee's housemade fudge, which, like the licorice braces offered by the world's youngest orthodontist, satisfy sweet teeth effectively.
While most people’s biggest water-related fear might be sharks, Phil Pektas's was children. Not the kids themselves, of course, but the prospect of teaching them. This terror first surfaced when he was tapped to fill in for the Pre-K instructor at the swim school where he taught. Fortunately, he conquered that fear during the very first lesson and 20 years later is still introducing young people to the necessary skills for ensuring safe, aquatic fun. Pektas and his staff of American Red Cross–, CPR-, and First-Aid- certified instructors use activities, toys, and analogies to improve performance in the pool. With games such as Bird Catcher, kids will learn how to control their breathing and hunt for sub-aquatic fowl indigenous to chlorinated pools.