Each of YMCA of Western North Carolina's five branches and 19 childcare sites remains true to its lasting mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages. Staff members uphold the YMCA’s core values of honesty, caring, responsibility, and respect as they invest in their community’s children and strengthen family bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. They pump up adult fitness regimens with aquatic fitness and boot-camp classes, basketball courts, and personal-training sessions. They’ve also filled their fitness centers with free weights, cardio equipment, and weight machines. When they’re not helping adults trim down waistlines during cardio-dance and aerobics classes, staff members are getting back in touch with their inner children. They stimulate imagination, mental development, and growth as they lead more than 200 programs, including children’s day camps, after-school programs, and dance classes.
Lighten Up owner and seasoned stretcher Lillah Schwartz opened Asheville's original yoga studio in 1981 with a mission to lighten and enlighten flexers of all fitness levels. The highly trained and experienced teachers provide one-on-one attention, altering poses to fit each student's skill level and zodiac sign, while a 15-minute complimentary consultation helps newcomers find their ideal class. Intro to yoga introduces the basic postures and breath work at a slow, relaxed pace, while Asana levels one and two warm up limbs for more impressive feats of nimbleness. The studio's flexible class schedule also includes focused courses for students with back problems and other health conditions, and mats are available for those who would otherwise resort to a quilt made of fruit roll-ups.
With a long-standing commitment to women, children, minorities, and social-justice issues and a presence in Asheville since 1906, the YWCA is more than just a workout facility. Its history is peppered with groundbreaking programs to bolster race relations, achieve women's empowerment through business ventures, and promote children's health by providing access to physical activity, urging them to hula-hoop with donuts instead of eating them. Staff members further the organization's vision with dedication to school-age programs for health and fitness efforts and initiatives to help unemployed community members locate jobs in the area.
At O3 Health and Fitness, Keith Wimsett leads a team of certified trainers while his wife Marlena rubs down recovering muscles with therapeutic massage. Keith and his team advocate a four-tiered philosophy built around increasing strength and cardiovascular endurance while monitoring food intake and hydration. Personal trainers work with individuals or small groups to forge customized fitness plans while also eliciting sweaty smiles through group boot camps.
Biltmore Premier Fitness helps clients of all levels of fitness break through barriers and reach personal goals, not only with an arsenal of treadmills, bikes, and strength equipment, but also with tailored one-on-one training sessions and high-tech amenities. Budding athletes tone their muscles in Les Mills Bodypump classes or steel their bodies at the Technogym Kinesis Wall, where continuous cables and rotating pulleys allow for resistance-training movements in almost any direction. After engaging in boot-camp courses, boxing workouts, or yoga and Pilates sessions, guests pick up their kids from the complimentary childcare facilities or relax in the dry sauna.
Biltmore's squad of certified personal trainers and fitness professionals aim to break the mold of one-size-fits-all exercise strategies and gym memberships by working one-on-one with clients and fostering a deep sense of camaraderie among members. The gym's commitment to proper training draws in throngs of satisfied customers every day, including members of the Asheville Tourists baseball team.
In 2012, the Runaway Circus struck upon a brilliant idea—find an unused studio space to fix up and turn into a community art center dedicated to teaching and practicing acrobatics, juggling, comedy, and highly physical performance art. That dream became the Toy Boat Community Art Space, which today provides a home base for such acts as the jugglers Forty Fingers and a Missing Tooth and the mysterious Wendal Wandell, who conjures waves of applause with his feats of legerdemain. Those without a big-top passion project to work on at the gym-cum-art studio can participate in other upcoming events involving folk music acts, DJ sessions, goofy plays for young and old, and unpredictable comedy shows.