Best of C-VILLE 2012: Recreation & Fitness

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Hiromi Johnson of Hiromi T'ai Chi. Photo: John Robinson Hiromi Johnson of Hiromi T'ai Chi. Photo: John Robinson

Here are your favorites in everything from golf course to personal trainer.  

 JUMP TO:
Hiking trail
Park for kids
Kids’ summer camp
Golf course
Yoga teacher
Yoga studio
Pilates teacher
Pilates studio
Place to weight train
Personal trainer
Martial Arts instructor
Martial Arts studio
Fitness class
Foot race

HIKING TRAIL
Humpback Rocks
Runner-up: Sugar Hollow
It’s a long way to the top (as in, 1,240′ in elevation), but from the rocks, you can see west over the Shenandoah Valley and north to Shenandoah National Park, so it’s worth the climb. Runner-up Sugar Hollow boasts a few prime swimming holes along the trail, which leads from the dam all the way up to the Blue Ridge.
 
PARK FOR KIDS
Greenleaf Park
Off Rose Hill Drive
Runner-up: Pen Park
East Rio Road
Just off Rose Hill Drive, Greenleaf features 14 acres of prime playground real estate where you and your little one will find a playground area, picnic shelter, and a touch-sensitive spray ground with a mushroom fountain and water pole. Pen Park, which borders East Rio Road, claims 280 city acres for its eight tennis courts, Little League baseball field and batting cage, volleyball court, golf course, three outdoor picnic shelters, and playground.
 
KIDS’ SUMMER CAMP
Summer Camp at ACAC
200 Four Seasons Dr., 978-7529
Runner-up: Triple C Camp
920 Camp Rd., 293-2529
We’ll be honest—both of these camps sound like so much fun, we’re tempted to enroll. At winner ACAC, kids get to spend 7am-6pm every day swimming, taking field trips, doing arts and crafts, and just generally having an awesome time being a kid. At Triple C, animals take center stage as a main source of entertainment. Kids can interact with bunnies, chickens, reptiles, and other mammals, plus, learn to ride horseback.
 
GOLF COURSE
Birdwood Golf Course
410 Golf Course Dr., 293-4653
Runner-up: Farmington Country Club Golf Course
1625 Country Club Cir., 245-0670
The Birdwood Golf Course at the Boar’s Head takes top marks as a par-72 championship course. And readers aren’t the only folks who like it—Birdwood earned a 4 ½ star ranking among the Best Places to Play in the 2011 edition of Golf Digest. Farmington’s setup—with the “North & South Nines” and the “Easy Nine”—take the runner-up spot.
 
YOGA TEACHER
Jennifer Elliott
Runner-up: Kelly Cox
Practice makes perfect! And your winner this year, Ashtanga Yoga director Jennifer Elliott, has been practicing her craft for more than 30 years. In 2005, she opened Ashtanga, which now boasts more than 15 teachers dedicated to vinyasa, a system of yoga that refers to the alignment of movement and breath. Runner-up Kelly Cox instructs mini-yogis at her Downtown Mall studio, bend, which she opened in 2010 with Merrill Woodriff.
 
YOGA STUDIO
Bikram Yoga
109 Fifth St. SE, 220-1415
Runner-up: ACAC
111 Monticello Ave., 984-3800
Albemarle Square Shopping Center, 978-3800
1015 Heathercroft Cir., Suite 100 (Crozet), 817-2055
When the folks at Bikram say “warm up,” they really mean it. The temperature at the Downtown studio never dips lower than 105 degrees (“Be ready to sweat!” the website says), but readers keep coming back for the 26 posture exercises designed to scientifically heat up and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Things are a bit cooler over at ACAC, where you’ll find power, hatha, ashtanga, and multi-level yoga classes taught by top instructors.
 
PILATES TEACHER
Kate Nesbitt
317 E. Main St., 293-8776
Runner-up: Robin Truxel
310 Second St. SE, Unit H, 975-3800
A former professional modern and ballet dancer, Kate Nesbitt has been practicing Pilates for the past 32 years. She’s Stott-certified, and she holds degrees from both UVA and Yale. Readers return to her Downtown Mall studio, Pilates Virginia, for private and group lessons. Runner-up Robin Truxel, who is Pilates Method Alliance certified, works with everyone from professional athletes and pre-natal women to older clients with osteoporosis.
 
PILATES STUDIO
TruPilates
310 Second St. SE, Unit H, 975-3800
Runner-up: Posture Studio
218 W. Market St., 293-7611
For all the toned muscles coming out of the Warehouse District studio, we might as well call this category Best Sculptor. After all, TruPilates has been churning out lean, flexible bodies since owner Robin Truxel opened in 2005. Readers go for the six classes using mats and Pilates apparatuses and stay for the resulting posture improvement and mental clarity. On West Market Street, Carla Shifflett’s Posture Studio has been keeping readers aligned since 2006.
 
PLACE TO WEIGHT TRAIN
ACAC
111 Monticello Ave., 984-3800
Albemarle Square Shopping Center, 978-3800
1015 Heathercroft Cir., Suite 100 (Crozet), 817-2055
Runner-up: Gold’s Gym
1801 Hydraulic Rd., 973-1307
Much like your muscles, when it comes to weight training, the bigger the better. Again this year, you say ACAC, with its large free weight area; state-of-the-art equipment from Hammer Strength, CYBEX, and Bodymaster; and a special spot for circuit training, is where you go to get ripped. Plus, there’re three locations. Runner-up Gold’s Gym provides top of the line machines and a private training room for ladies, in addition to being located close to 29N.
 
PERSONAL TRAINER
Justin Tooley
Runner-up: Cecil Hassell
Returning to the winners’ circle this year, Justin Tooley is a former ACAC personal trainer who recently opened his own gym. His new workout spot (aptly named “The Gym”) down Avon Extended uses the Westside Conjugate method developed by strength trainer Louie Simmons, which incorporates a variety of training stimuli so the trainee never tires of the same routine. ACAC trainer Cecil Hassell muscles into the runner-up spot.
 
MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR
Hiromi Johnson
Runner-up: Rick Wellbeloved-Stone
T’ai chi ch’uan—the spiritual center of Chinese fighting systems—is a martial art practiced both for its defense training and health benefits, and readers say it’s Hiromi Johnson whom they choose to show them the way to the tan tien. The instructor began her T’ai Chi practice in 1980 under martial arts big-wigs like Yutaka Ueda and Grandmaster Wang Sheng-Zhi. Your runner-up dominates the dojo indeed. In addition to his expertise in Myo Sim Karate and Kendo (which he teaches at ACAC), he’s an environmental science teacher at Charlottesville High School (and, we hear, a student favorite).
 
MARTIAL ARTS STUDIO
Hiromi T’ai Chi
609 E. Market St., 974-9435
Runner-up: Laughing Dragon Kung Fu
3006 Berkmar Dr., 973-0318
Not only does Hiromi Johnson earn top marks for her martial arts instruction, readers say they prefer her studio the most, too. The dojo’s six instructors help readers get their kicks. Interested in learning? Your first three classes are only $10 each. And, speaking of deals, at runner-up Laughing Dragon, a class for twins is two for the price of one. No joke!
 
FITNESS CLASS
Body Pump at ACAC
Runner-up: Zumba at ACAC
Talk about a shut-out. ACAC outdoes the competition in this category completely. Readers head to the fitness center’s three locations for body pump, a 60-minute Les Mills exercise featuring barbells, free weights, and aerobic steps, and Zumba, the Latin dance-infused fitness craze drawing inspiration from hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts and belly-dancing.
 
FOOT RACE
Women’s 4-miler
Runner-up: Charlottesville 10-miler
Nothing motivates quite like a good cause. For the annual Women’s 4-miler, which begins and ends at Foxfield on Garth Road, proceeds benefit the UVA Cancer Center Breast Care Program. The trademark of the event is the Motivational Mile, a display of names stretching along the fence line for the last mile of the course, urging participants to keep going and reminding them of what they’re running for. The Charlottesville 10-miler, held in early spring, benefits Dr. David Jones’ Lung Cancer Research Program at UVA, and offers an interesting distance to challenge local racers.

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