Walking down Collins Avenue on any given day, you're likely to see a non-English speaking extended Italian family, a buzzed beach bum, and Lil' Kim -- all on the same block. These mutually exclusive demographic sects are seemingly only united in Miami's passion for humidity, the burgeoning art scene and uncircumcised men.
Yet there is one Miami institution where all these disparate people can come together and be equals: the spa.
During the high season, spas might scoff at the downmarket local clientele, but during the summer, they're desperate for the cheap, fast cash Miamians have to offer. Last week, Exhale Spa opened its second location at the Loews Hotel right in the thick of the action, and they celebrated the kick-off with a large outdoor Core Fusion Yoga class made up of some of the beach's best characters.
From the get go, you knew this was not the typical yoga class. A taut instructor stood on a stage clutching a hand microphone as Britney Spears' "Work Bitch" played in the background, just like Patanjali would have wanted it. "Connect to the breath, perfect the pose....ready?.... Exhale!" shrieked the instructor.
The overall vibe: East meets West in a colonialistic cultural fusion of athletic prowess that would leave bell hooks in shock. One part Zumba class, one part transcendental meditation, this class will tone up your butt and align your chakras all within the humble confines of a world class resort. In what other locale can you practice a centuries-old spiritual discipline while a coterie of eager party goers wait in line to have their picture taken at the step and repeat?
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The crowd was a mix; young millennials rubbed elbows with middle aged housewives in form fitting yoga pants, and dreadlocked caucasians lunged next to clean cut managerial types. Like the Roman Forum, Exhale equalizes the socio-economic disparities amongst us.
Apart from the led class, the launch event had a couple of treats from local health centered companies, each willing to extended the lifestyle outside the hallowed confines of a spa. Yogiiza is a South Beach-based organic yoga clothing company that started selling merch to national vendors about a year ago. Since their debut they've exploded all over town, with customers hooked on their form-fitting and eco-conscious sartorial choices. On the food side, DeliverLean was there to represent the community's increasing penchant for healthy meals delivered at convenience.
As the class wrapped up, students rolled their yoga mats and sipped on coconut water as the other event attendees filed passed them in stilettos clutching white wines. Outside the ivory tower, it's life as usual -- the haves have, the rest of us don't. But in one of America's most gentrified towns, there's a magical time between May and September where we all can feel a little bit more equal pumping iron and getting a rub down.