South Florida is often referred to as the unofficial gateway to the Caribbean.Always considered a hot spot for tourists, this area of the United States sports all things exotic and beautiful from its bright daytime family beaches to the legendary lounges and hotels that form the nucleus of its seductive nightlife. It is because of its emphasis on a clean environment, a festival like atmosphere and broad accessibility that tourism is so high and the state can afford to forgo charging its locals a state tax that is often a burden to others in the surrounding states. Currently the state is not only a tourist magnet but it is also becoming ground zero for sports and fitness buffs because of its year round sunshine and proximity to the ocean.Winters are non-existent in this climate with an average winter temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the only concern is the occasional storm that passes through from time to time. They have perfectly named it the “Sunshine State”. When most people think of Florida, they think of the happy beach goers sunbathing up and down the coast or the snorkelers who happen to frequent the keys. Even the advertisements corroborate its well known reputation with scenes of beautiful bodies lying on the beaches that are a commodity of the Sunshine State and a major selling point for the wild and free to visit and if they are lucky, stay in Florida.When discovered Florida was labeled as a “fountain of youth” because of the beauty of its flora and the relaxing effect it has on its locals.The saying has merit but for some reason, surprisingly, people still age here and when they see Father Time sneak up on them in the mirror they seek out that mythical fountain of youth magic in the most non-magical of ways by using various methods of plastic surgery tucks, implants and Botox. This works for some but not all and despite the plethora of doctors who wave their thousand dollar wand, the fitness industry is alive and well to offer its take on getting and maintaining that killer bod. Regardless of the technique, medical science can never replace the beauty created by good genes or hard earned through blood, sweat and tears. If no pain, no gain is your motto then Florida has one of the best environments for working out whether it be running, swimming or biking and conversely If being outdoors is not your thing then there are plenty of fitness centers to provide the arena for your workout choice.What is surprising though is that the hottest workout that is taking Florida by storm is not beach based and doesn’t require the lifting of weights or the purchase of any equipment. The “in” workout du jour is Yoga. Since its introduction in the United States Yoga began as an obscure, exotic workout for those who had access to a rare teacher. It has recently gained huge popularity in the United States and has become a separate movement within the mammoth fitness industry by forming its own subculture and momentum. The range of styles and approaches are only increasing and in Florida there is a small group of elite teachers whose approach is so unique we had to take notice. Their combination of experience and blending of different techniques has branded them the title, South Beach Yoga Elite.These sought after teachers hold classes all throughout South Florida but many of them focus their efforts on the South Beach and Miami scene. Check out their styles and book a class with them immediately if you are in the area or if you really want to shake things up contact them for a workshop and fly them out to your area!
Yoga meets Karate Sensei Donato Helbling is the Director of Budokon Florida and is the local Miami Beach Budokon Instructor. Budokan is a workout system that combines some of the postures of Yoga with the spirit of Budo (martial way) into a very unique approach for working out. Some postures are challenging but the class overall is lighthearted and fast paced. Although it has a martial feel to it, don’t make the mistake of assuming that this is a “boot camp” style class with someone barking at you to push yourself. Budokon is designed to make you think and develop awareness even while you are performing some of it’s more challenging techniques. Even though the workout is structured, Sensei Donato’s style is so fun that you will feel like a kid in a playground and forget that you are working out. Sensei Donato has a very special talent for inspiring his students to take responsibility for their workouts: “the way that you move is a reflection of the way that you think. This is why I enjoy teaching people how to move with control and awareness, so they can think and live with more control and awareness”. Laughter, philosophy, Zen meditation, animal movements and some serious sweating are present in every one of his classes.To learn more go to: http://www.budokonmiami.com
Pilates Meets Dance We know! Technically it’s not Yoga but everyone who is doing the Yoga thing is also doing the Pilates thing. Pilates is one of the most subtle but challenging of workouts because of its focus on core strength; the stomach and surrounding muscles that create our posture. Taking a look throughout South Florida you will see that there are plenty of Pilates classes but if you want to take it a step further, there is a brand new system drawing on the best that Pilates has to offer by combining it with the graceful movements of dance to develop a method known as the XTendtm workout. XTendtm was created by Andrea Rogers, a former professional dancer. Her experience in dance has allowed her to perform with various celebrities and recording artists and she has even traveled the country as a member of several professional dance companies and was under contract as a principal dancer for the Walt Disney World Co. As if her accomplishments weren’t impressive enough she continues to shine and has created a revolutionary new workout that is mushrooming in popularity with centers opening in several states. The Xtendtm workout is by far one of the most efficient ways to create a strong and healthy body. The system focuses on sculpting the body into a long and lean physique without adding bulk. By using a series of movements, including isometric exercises in combination with orthopedic stretches, you can achieve firm and fast results.Andrea has received great reviews from the press and her devoted clients, one of which says, “If Pilates sculpts your body, Xtendtm chisels it.” To learn more: http://www.xtendworkout.com/
Yoga Meets Pilates What if you were to combine the core strength approach of Pilates with the flexibility of Yoga and the voice of an angel? The only way to accomplish this is to take a class with Luana Hervier, Yogilates teacher extrodinaire. Brazilian born yet raised in Argentina, this phenomenal teacher is sought after for not only her warm personality but also for her song like voice that will eventually put you in a trance.A journalist from the Miami Herald described her as having “a voice so soothing it should be tapped for relaxation tapes”. The Yogilates class is based on Luana’s philosophy of integrating the body, mind and spirit. She believes that every movement starts at the power center, bringing not only physical but energetic and emotional benefits. With this hardcore workout that combines elements of Pilates and Vinyasa (flowing from one posture to the next) Yoga, you will tone up muscles, increase flexibility and improve core strength. While working out you will calm your mind through developing balance, meditation, and a variety of breathing techniques. You should really expect to sweat though because the postures are linked in such a way that there is no pause for the duration of the workout. Her approach to fitness takes you to a higher level of awareness and promotes inner strength and confidence along with the primary benefit of helping you to achieve your physical goals. Luana Hervier is an experienced Physical Education teacher, Pilates instructor and Yoga teacher. She has taught in Argentina, Mexico and Denmark and now teaches all throughout Miami in Spanish, Portuguese and English. To learn more: http://www.luanahervier.com
Yoga Meets Love Yoga in South Beach, or anywhere else for that matter, is not required to be practiced alone. In fact, Tantric Yoga encourages a deepening awareness not only of yourself, but everyone else in your life. That harmonic blending of power is brought about through dedication to self control, appreciation for all and most importantly through love. Sitting in a posture while concentrating and slowing down your breathing is relaxing but doing this with a significant other can alter the relationship in the most passionate of ways. Tantric Yoga uses the concept of Kundalini, the power in all of us that seeks to be unleashed, as its basis. All must be warned though, taking this class and learning from this amazing couple will lead to a deeper connection, a stronger appreciation for your partner and a more loving relationship. Taught by South Beach’s premiereYoga couple, Alexandra Shepherd (Siri Rishi Kaur) and Ganesha Michael Shapiro, Tantric Yoga along with Kundalini Yoga are two of the more intimate and mystical styles of Yoga practiced. Alexandra Shepherd, MPH (Siri Rishi Kaur) started practicing and teaching yoga while attending The George Washington University. In 2004, she earned her B.A. in Theater and Dance. She has been teaching Yoga and meditation for over 5 years inWashington D.C. and Miami. Alexandra holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Barry University. Ganesha Michael Shapiro is a certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Instructor and a graduate from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. His classes and full/ new moon workshops are a unique experience combiningYoga, numerology, astrology, healing, meditation, breathwork, and more. Together they are an unstoppable force. Siri’s bright and happy personality combined with Ganesha’s soothing and encouraging teaching style provide for an unforgettable experience if you would like to take a Tantric or KundaliniYoga class. They have a niche, no doubt, that makes them stand out among other Yoga teachers not just because of how they teach but they have a genuine concern for their students as well as each other that makes you always feel like you have met long lost friends. An absolute must if you are in South Florida and make sure you hang out with them afterwards for a nice chat over some vegetarian dinner. To learn more go to: http://www.kundaliniyogamiami.com
Yoga Meets Glam One of the more interesting styles to come out of South Beach is a system called Faith Yoga. Faith Yoga is a styleof Yoga created by Cephus Primo Jones. Throughout Florida Primo is known as the Yoga teacher for the blind because he runs workshops teaching Yoga to blind and visually impaired adults and children. This style ofYoga is unique for one simple fact, all of the people working out wear a sleep mask during the class. Primo explains that when he was developing his Yoga system for his blind students, he had to make himself blind in order to “see” as they do. He would not be able to teach a Yoga class to blind students without knowing what they would experience. He says putting the sleep mask on changed his practice entirely. He was able to get deeper into his stances and most important was the change in balance he experienced (High heels anyone?).The first half of the class is a traditional vigorous Yoga class with no sleepmask and the second portion, the Faith portion, is done with the sleepmask on. When seen from a distance, FaithYoga students look like they are practicing Yoga with sunglasses on which always provokes curious stares from onlookers. Don’t let the word Faith fool you though.This is not about sitting in a corner meditating on thoughts of birds or clouds. You will sweat and be challenged in the class and the music that is played is a big factor throughout the class. For the first half the exotic beats that you will be grooving to will make you feel like you are in more of a South Beach lounge as opposed to a Yoga class. The intial phase is also more boot camp like than a traditionalYoga class because of how much endurance is required. Primo feels anyone who comes to a Faith Yoga class has to earn their sleep mask! Once the body is warmed up and ready for the second half of class the music becomes more ambient like with acoustic guitars and melodies taking over as the sleep masks which are provided for the students are handed out.TheYoga class now becomes a moving meditation as you work your way back down to the ground to experience the stillness and slow breathing that accompanies the end of allYoga classes. FaithYoga is truly a unique experience and something for everyone to try. This is also the perfect style to try for a Yoga party. To learn more: http://www.faithyoga.org So here’s your itinerary if you are in South Beach or just South Florida. Take a class from each one of these teachers in the daytime and in the night time you treat yourself to all that the restaurants and lounges have to offer.You will still have plenty of time for the beaches but you will have the experience of working out and eliminating that hangover in the most efficient way possible while being trained by the emerging rock stars of Yoga in one of the trendiest spot in the US. Just think, when you develop that killer body you might be gracing the cover of Runway Beauty magazine! These are the types of teachers to have if you want to stand out amongst your peers and be recognized as working out with the latest and greatest influences in the industry.