By the age of 30, Stephanie Howard's extreme athleticism had nearly run her body into the ground. She was participating in physically demanding sports, from snow-ski racing and water-ski jumping to 197-mile relay marathons and even playing volleyball while pregnant. Stephanie had severely traumatized her spine in the process, suffering from compressions that landed her in physical therapy, chiropractic sessions, and regular injections at a pain clinic. Everyone told her this could only end one way—with surgery.
Stephanie refused to believe such extreme measures were necessary, and, on a whim, enrolled in a hot yoga school. Not only did her pain begin to subside, but she found herself gaining strength in her back. Hot yoga was the cure she needed. She eventually opened Yoga Hot Spot, starting out teaching 10 classes a week on her own before expanding to three locations with a team of experienced instructors. Each class takes place in a heated studio and explores various techniques including hatha, power vinyasa flow, and giving nicknames to individual beads of sweat.
Jeff Wood, the founder of Health Fitness Complete, understands the difficulty in achieving exercise and health goals—he lost 125 pounds in 2007. He's taken his personal experience and created a fitness center that offers the best training methods and equipment for its customers. One-on-one training sessions are just that—private, with only the trainer and client present, allowing clients to feel more comfortable without others looking on. And in both personal-training sessions and fitness classes, customers work out with dynamic equipment that exercises myriad body parts and muscle groups. Machines where users sit down may allow the chance to sketch out updates to the Nike swoosh, but rob exercisers the ability to train postural and other muscles. Instead, Health Fitness Complete offers many pieces of equipment that allow clients to work out multiple muscles more effectively.
Aah Day Spa's menu takes its cues from nature, offering a variety of botanical- and vitamin-infused treatments. African shea butter and Dead Sea mud hydrate the whole body during wrap treatments while facials use carrot and avocados to firm the skin or Greek yogurt and honey to soothe inflammation. Organic and vegan ingredients are the basis for the spa’s preferred makeup brand, EMANI, which Aah Day Spa's makeup artists use to doll up clients for weddings and other special events. And in the soaking room, guests can sip on a cup of hot organic tea or cool spring water while they let feet relax in a basin of warm water before nail technicians refresh digits with paraffin treatments and nail art.
As they enter the training circle 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.
Led by co-owners John and Brigit, the certified coaches at CrossFit Enumclaw schedule more than just daily CrossFit workouts. Their schedule also features more specialized disciplines such as CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Powerlifting, and CrossFit Football. To prepare for fitness method's intense brand of workout, clients can sign up for an introductory class or a personal-training session.
Though the process of becoming a yoga teacher involves memorizing sanskrit and learning the roots and traditions of yoga, the best teachers manage to insert their own personality and teaching style into their classes. So when Michelle Ann Thielen founded Northwest Yoga Academy, she designed a teacher training that aims to help budding instructors find that sweet spot between honoring the long tradition of yoga and empowering teachers to develop their own teaching style. The school's instructors lead students through the 200- and 500-hour certification courses, as well as shorter workshops that focus on building solid foundations for a deeper yoga practice. But no matter the training, Michelle and her team work to make sure students find wholeness in mind, body, soul, and spirit.