Inspired by the German Turnverein associations of the early 19th century, the Milwaukee Turners first came together in the mid 1800s, gaining their charter from the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1855. In 1882, the group constructed Turner Hall, and the building has housed the organization and its stockpiles of sweatbands ever since. Over the decades, the hall has welcomed in visitors with a mission to help them create sound bodies and minds.
Though they derive their name from “Turnen,” the German word for gymnastics, the Milwaukee Turners teach visitors much more than just how to lasso a pommel horse. In addition to the gymnastic school, the organization schedules classes for yoga. Their rock-climbing wall's top ropes take climbers up 26 feet where they practice climbing or belaying techniques. To strengthen minds, the Turners lead meetings such as the 4th Street Forum, which discusses issues crucial to the community, and host concerts within the Turner Hall Ballroom.
Now a national landmark, Turner Hall echoes the organization's rich history. Sprung from the mind of famed architect Henry H. Koch, the building's design includes an Italianate façade crafted with Cream City brick and panoramic paintings that make visitors think they're trapped inside a cartoon. The venue boasts a beer hall and two-story ballroom, making it an ideal locale for special occasions.
The instructors at Kaivalya Yoga believe that, like yoga practitioners themselves, the rules of yoga should be highly flexible. They pioneer fresh approaches to Vinyasa techniques inside their University Square studio with the aim of inducing kaivalya—a state of freeing personal enlightenment. Heated and nonheated classes cover fluid posture transitions that synchronize breath with stretching rather than having students take one long breathing break halfway through class. Each session aims to eradicate the body's toxins and boost mental clarity, whether students are attending a free beginners workshop or hefting small weights during Power Sculpt.
Many of the teaching staff joined the yoga movement to combat physical ailments, such as slipped disks or chronic migraines, and now they deepen their practice through Kaivalya's inventive curriculum. They inject posing sequences with pieces of individual flair—Hally Marlino's classes embrace freestyle Vinyasa set to music, and director of teacher training Alex Pfeiffer leads groups through spiritually focused, dance-like routines. Certified massage therapists are also on hand to work muscles into an even noodlier state with Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports modalities.
Kaivalya Yoga's central location is no accident. Owners Dave and Tim met at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1998 and maintain ties with the school as an employee and a graduate student, respectively. They've engineered their venue and schedule to suit the student population: classes provide a meditative escape close to home, scheduling never interferes with Wisconsin Badgers games, and the boutique carries chic headbands, T-shirts, and hoodies from their exclusive Mad Yogi clothing line, ideal for moving from dorm to dining hall to yoga studio in comfort.
Curves houses a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines designed to work with women's bodies to promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and cope with arthritis. Instead of guests fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches each exerciser's abilities during their 30-minute workouts. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, machines use push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Body Rock 2.0 is a 45-minute coed total-body workout led by former army fitness instructor Shane Frazier. Focusing on core strength and body sculpting, this workout tones and sculpts the body into a marble masterpiece, which makes changing socks difficult. Boot-campers have the benefits of group fitness (motivation, camaraderie) with the advantages of expert instructor training (one-on-one guidance, a steady stream of firm handshakes) and an interactive nutrition plan (dietary tips, advice about which roots are edible). Classes run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:15 a.m., 8:15 a.m., and 5:15 p.m. (no evening class on Fridays), and Groupon buyers may attend Thursday night’s Punch & Crunch class at 5:30 p.m. Learn more about Body Rock 2.0 group fitness online.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Certified personal trainer and former member of the Greek and Cypriot National Swim Teams, Harris Sophocleous brings a wealth of experience (and a gold medal) to his work at SophoFit. His personal-training sessions can work on everything from weight loss to strength conditioning to learning how to swim. Consult Harris's FAQ page for additional info.