By Brigid Morrissey

Brigid Morrissey tries an intro to ballet class at Louisville Ballet. Photos: Melissa Donald 

If you’re thinking about starting an exercise routine, Today’s Woman has a few suggestions on fitness centers you might want to try.

Downtown Pilates, Nulu
Class: One hour Private Pilates Session
Bring: nothing, even water is provided
Cost: $18 for mat class drop-in, $40 for semi-private instruction drop-in, $70 for private instruction drop-in. It also offers package deals and other services.
Sore Factor: 2
Fitness Level: any level
Exerciser: Brigid Morrissey

What to Expect: It was cool and dim, and natural light shone through the storefront windows, spotlighting the Pilates exercise equipment. I didn’t even need shoes, so I slipped out of those. Comfort was an obvious emphasis the longer I was there, from the suggested attire (there was a wide range of movements, so the less exposed, the better) to the classical music playing softly in the background. My session involved a brief, yet informative history lesson about the founder of Pilates and evolution of the equipment, full body exercises that both introduced me to the basics and allowed the instructor to evaluate my movements, and a 30-minute massage following the workout. After a mere taste of all that Downtown Pilates has to offer, I left with a desire to be a member and contribute to the momentum. I also left feeling better in mind, body, and spirit than I had before I walked in.

Sweaty Buddha, Westport Road
Class: 75-minute Bikram yoga class Bikram yoga is a therapeutic sequence that consists of two breathing exercises and 26 postures. The heat warms the muscles, which allows the body to stretch more effectively, and reduces the risk of injury.
Bring: Yoga mat, towel, and water
Cost:  $18 for a drop-in
Fitness Level: all
Sore Factor: 3
Exerciser: Brigid Morrissey
What to Expect: I walked into a quiet space to a designated spot on the left side of the room. My instructor, co-owner Wendii Brooks, informed me that there is a 10-degree variance across the span of the mirrored room. Beginners go to the “cooler” side of the room — cool meaning 100 degrees — and the seasoned veterans stake their claim near the wall on the right. Every student was preparing in different ways. Some were stretching, some sat in concentrated meditation, and others laid flat on their backs with eyes closed. As the 20 or so students slowly trickled into the room (at least 15 minutes early, I might add, because the door gets locked and you’re out of luck! Trust me, I learned from experience.), I noticed that this class was full of people of all genders, ages, body types, and races. The key is to breathe, and fight the temptation to leave the room. Fight the heat, and ease yourself into the movements. Wendii makes a bolder claim: “Bikram Yoga can change your life, one class at a time. Nothing is set in stone, not pain, not disease, not inflexibility. At the end of the day we are all shape-shifters. We all have the capability to transform.”

Louisville Ballet, St Matthews
Class: Ballet Intro
Bring: Water, ballet shoes if you have them, or socks if you don’t.
Cost: $15 for 60+ minute mind.body.balance class
Sore Factor: 0
Fitness Level: all
Exerciser: Brigid Morrissey
What to Expect: The class size was small — only three women were in attendance the Saturday morning I ventured out of my comfort zone. The instructor, Justin Michael Hogan, assured me that the intro class was a great way to learn the basic dance movements and terminology. As some of the women stretched or practiced the routine from a previous class, I looked around the room. It was spacious and open, with a full-length mirror from wall to wall and a matching set of windows along the width of the side looking out onto the Farmers Market. I ditched my sneakers but opted to keep my socks on. The others had ballet shoes. I took my place on one of the moveable bars, and we set to work on a number of combinations, first as a slow demonstration, and then set to music, but always at a manageable pace.