Neither gym nor spa, The Balance Institute cobbles together something wholly unique, blending the best of both to alleviate pain and prevent future maladies. The buzzing, anonymous atmosphere of a gym gives way to friendly, personalized attention. Trainers and massage therapists join forces, working with clients one on one to unravel the underlying cause of pain and reverse years of unhealthy habits, such as poor eating or only ever using your right arm. Personal training begins with a health assessment and veers into moves and stretches designed to strengthen bodies and assuage pain. In private rooms, massage therapists quiet the cries of sore muscles with Swedish strokes, deep-tissue work, or myofascial release therapy.
Guided by the spiritual tenets of mindfulness, MindBody Health's owner, director, and teacher Diane Barnes watches over a spiritual sanctuary in her studio. In the Three Hours of Bliss renewal retreat, minds and bodies withdraw from the stressors of everyday life, focusing on the present moment and casting aside worries of morning traffic, speeding tickets, and upcoming mail-fraud trials. Because every mind and body is different, the theme and focus of every session depends on the needs of its participants—though each remains rooted in the spirit of mindfulness and balance within the individual. Previous and planned retreats include Learning to Let Go and Mindful Eating. Holding the highest of yoga training and education, Diane leads a supportive, disciplined classroom, strengthening her students' minds while expelling stress, tension, and chronic spit ballers.
Stronghold Gym, a full-service climbing and training facility, helps budding rock-scalers hone their abilities on a 45-foot climbing tower and two onsite bouldering caves. Climbers can scamper up the walls like a man with incredibly long legs and rubber-cement hands with the help of friends or opt to drop by from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends when staff members are present to help with belaying. After ascending to the rocky heights, individuals can hit Stronghold's cardio and weight training equipment to continue their workouts post-climb. Yoga and fitness classes are also offered onsite in its two fitness studios.
Part of the venerable Paul Mitchell network, the Columbia outpost of Paul Mitchell the School features 14,500 square feet of stylish real estate staffed by a squad of student coiffure-carvers and professional instructors. Under the close supervision of an experienced professor of pulchritude, Paul Mitchell student stylists perform a wide array of services, creating cute cuts ($10–$25) and up-styles ($20–$25), applying chemical relaxers to tame tendrils ($45–$50), and more. High-quality products 20% off by the one and only Paul Mitchell are to take home, providing a souvenir of your first date with your new ’do.
In Brickhouse Gym’s 12,000-square-foot exercise emporium, clients can sweat solo on cardio equipment, hoist barbells in strength-training areas, or hone muscles in more than 30 group fitness sessions each week. Specialized practice domains, focusing on disciplines such as circuit training, agility, and free weights, help muscle masons zero in on particular skills, and a spinning room stocked with stationary bicycles amuses hamsters bored with predictable habitat wheels. Exercisers can also get in touch with nature by working out on a turf floor or can let playful breezes wick away their sweat in the open-air room. Alternatively, spirited instructors help students cultivate flexibility, increase endurance, or prepare for cage matches with stubborn garden weeds with a variety of fitness classes in disciplines such as yoga and mixed martial arts.
Dawson Hill, the founder of Columbia Area Piano Lessons, honed his musical skills at Emerson College, where he earned a degree in performing arts. Now, he teaches students of all experience levels to coax music from the ivory keys, even composing their own tunes. Students can opt to study classical music, jazz songs, blues, and other genres.