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Healthy Charlotte

An intense aerial program that combines athletic conditioning with yoga, ballet and Pilates.
An intense aerial program that combines athletic conditioning with yoga, ballet and Pilates.

By Leah Hughes

The New Year brings new opportunities to pamper and empower your body, diet and mind.

A healthy lifestyle is a journey, and achieving overall wellness requires daily maintenance. Fortunately, Charlotte offers a wealth of resources. The city is home to a slew of gyms and health clubs as well as a number of creative workout options. If your diet needs an adjustment, you can find ready-made nutritious meals or classes to teach you how to prepare them. If your attitude could use a tuneup, groups and events abound to keep your social and mental health in good standing, too.

Healthy Body

For runners who want to take their exercise to the next level in 2016, or for others who who want to get in the game this year, the Charlotte Running Club is the place to start. Membership benefits include information about group runs and races, discounts at local sports stores and a running community to support you in your goals. The group accepts runners at all levels.

Chances are you’ve heard the term “barre.” It’s a trendy exercise option that produces full-body results. The locally owned studio Carolina Barre & Core offers a long lineup of classes for all fitness levels at its Selwyn Avenue location. Classes combine strength training with aspects of Pilates, yoga and ballet and a focus on good posture and proper form. Muscles are toned and strengthened using small, isolated movements or pulses.

Hilliard Studio Method, run by a mother-daughter duo, has a custom brand of workouts designed to strengthen the core and transform the entire body. Strongly rooted in Pilates, HSM also uses weights, resistance bands, weighted balls and gliders. More than 40 classes are offered each week in the Myers Park studio.

AIR®- Aerial Fitness (better known as AIR Fit Charlotte) is an intense aerial program that combines athletic conditioning with yoga, ballet and Pilates. When they arrive at the quaint Myers Park studio, guests are welcomed by more than a dozen turquoise silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling. Workouts are great for all levels and include familiar but intense moves like burpees, planks and sit-ups performed while staying balanced with one or both feet in the hammock. Try your first round at the $5 Aerial Yoga community class offered on Sunday mornings 

For an intense interval workout, check out MADabolic in South End. Each class is 50 minutes and addresses five categories of movement: primal athleticism, power, strength and stability, rotational force and cardiovascular stamina. MADabolic complements everyday activities, whether they involve playing with the kids, yoga sessions or training for a race.

Y2 Yoga offers 12,000 square feet of yogi bliss. If you want to try yoga for the first time, Y2 101 is for beginners. The studio’s website also has a yoga primer to prepare you for your first class. If you’ve been practicing yoga for years, Y2 can be your new playground. It holds more than 85 classes a week, hosts workshops and special events, and offers teacher training. Plus, the studio boasts an in-house spa with massage therapy and a cafe serving coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, salads and sushi.

Bike, rain or shine, with indoor cycling classes at Flywheel on the edge of Myers Park. Most classes are 45 minutes and consist of races, rhythm riding and sprints. Track your progress through your Flywheel user account, which stores all your performance metrics.

Healthy Diet

Convenience and nutrition can be difficult to combine in a single meal. Nourish offers locally sourced, organic, vegan prepared meals delivered to your door. Through an a la carte menu as well as meal plans, Chef and owner Julia Simon reinvents classics, such as macaroni and cheese and carbonara pasta, and turns them into healthy vegan dishes.

Pure Pizza makes a pie you can feel good about eating. Starting with a crust made of flour from organically grown, North Carolina-milled grain, Pure Pizza tops it with locally sourced ingredients from Charlotte-area farms, creameries and breweries. The restaurant now has two locations, one inside 7th Street Public Market and its newest on Central Avenue.

Luna’s Living Kitchen opened in 2010 and has since been famously serving healthy vegetarian meals to Charlotteans. The South End spot is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Luna’s also has a line of cold-pressed juices, coffee and teas served with homemade hemp, coconut or almond milk.

Fern, Flavors from the Garden serves bountiful brunch, lunch and dinner in Plaza Midwood. It’s a nice place to take a mixed group of vegetarians, vegans and non-vegetarians. While the full menu is vegetarian, several dishes make use of locally produced cheeses and eggs. Still, those menu items can be modified for vegans. If you want to feel better about your weekend brunch habit, grab a table at Fern.

Food trucks are popular, quick options around the city, but their menus aren’t always diet-friendly. While Roots food truck doesn’t provide calorie counts or fat-free choices, it does promise locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and satisfying, feel-good meals. The truck offers vegetarian options and healthy side dishes to accompany its tacos, burgers, pitas and wraps.

Eating good food is great, but growing it and preparing it personally is even more rewarding. The Mecklenburg County Cooperative Extension’s Sustainable Living Series is a lineup of classes to teach residents sustainable practices. Gardening classes involve building raised beds, making compost and propagating seeds. Once you have the fruits and vegetables on hand, other classes show you how to preserve your food through canning and how to make pickles, relishes, jams and jellies.

Healthy Mind

A strong, supportive community is important for a full, healthy life. #WeLoveCLT brings together people from all over Charlotte and engages them in conversation. As the hashtag suggests, much of the connecting is done online, but the group hosts guest speakers and provides information about events all over town. #WeLoveCLT also introduces Charlotteans on its website and social media platforms and invites people to take over its Instagram feed. Whatever your preferred method of socializing, this group does it.

SkillPop provides pop-up classes on a variety of topics held in spaces throughout the Queen City. Would you like to learn more about hand-lettering, marketing and branding, photography or painting? Or maybe you once experimented with a skill years ago and want a tuneup? SkillPop classes are offered a la carte and are taught by local experts in an interactive environment.

Opening your mind to new ideas and new ways of thinking is important to continued personal growth. TED is a nonprofit that provides a platform to share ideas globally. TEDx is a spinoff that allows independent organizers to put together TED-like events in their own communities. TEDxCharlotte holds conferences that present local experts as speakers. The 2016 event will be held in the fall. Videos of past speakers’ presentations are available online. 

Also a speaker series, CreativeMornings/CLT is a monthly breakfast event where guest speakers talk for 20 minutes during each meeting. The free events are designed for the city’s creatives to gather, be inspired and network. All are invited. The talks are also available online afterward.

If 2016 will bring some changes for your family, Parent Financial can help update your financial plan to support those adjustments. For example, the Financial Checklist for New Parents class addresses all of the important monetary changes that go along with having a little one. Proper planning not only provides physical readiness, but it also eases mental stress. 

This article ran in the January 2016 issue of Charlotte Happenings.