From yoga among dolphins to stripper classes, get fit in Vegas

You’ve heard of a downward facing dog. But what about a downward facing dolphin?

While the real pose is called dolphin dog, you’re quite likely to find yourself downward and facing a dolphin during Yoga Among the Dolphins. The 60-minute yoga class puts you face to flipper with the playful bottlenose dolphins from Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage.

A yoga class among dolphins in the middle of the desert? Of course! This is Las Vegas after all. It’s par for the course that this one-of-a-kind city would offer an array of only-in-Vegas fitness classes for those who want to stay in shape.

Bending and bonding

Courtesy of the Mirage Spa & Salon

You don’t get wet or touch any dolphins during Yoga Among the Dolphins. Your practice actually takes place in an indoor viewing area underneath the water.

While you stretch and flow from pose to pose, the dolphins watch and play from the other side of a window.

Watching the dolphins swim near the window while looking up through the wavy water is truly a mind-altering experience. Yoga in general benefits mood and decreases anxiety, but Yoga Among the Dolphins instructor Willow Withy says something even more amazing happens when you add in a level of animal interaction.

“I found studies showing that when humans and animals interact there are significant levels of oxytocin being released … oxytocin triggers feelings of happiness, stress and depression relief, as well as an increased feeling of trust,” she says. “The chemical also plays an important role in social memory and helps facilitate pair bonding, which is crucial for humans.”

The chemical reaction goes both ways as the excited dolphins actually eagerly await the morning yoga classes. “They seem sincerely pissed off if I don’t greet them in the morning before class and the guests have a different experience with their interaction if I don’t,” she says.

From Vinyasa to Yin to Ashtanga, Withy is prepared to teach in a style that best meets the needs of the guests in attendance. Yogis have access to the Mirage Spa’s relaxing facilities before and after class, plus they receive a delicious post-workout smoothie.

A hotel hike

Courtesy of Aria

If you prefer to stay on dry land, Aria at CityCenter offers guests a unique Indoor Hike.

On the hike, your instructor will lead you through the hotel past its impressive art installations, restaurants, bars, stores, theater, convention area, casino and what seems like an inordinate amount of Starbucks. You may even venture into some of the outdoor spaces at CityCenter, through Crystals (and yes, another Starbucks) and past the unique water features at the Aria port cochere.

“Each class is going to be different, depending on how busy the casino may be, the fitness instructor leading the hike, outdoor weather, available areas — benches, stairs, open space — and guest interests,” said Gary Biason, a fitness instructor at Aria.

At the start of the 60-minute hike, you will gather at the Spa at Aria fitness center and receive a shoulder bag (to return at the end of class) containing a bottle of water, hand weights and a yoga mat for stretching. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits gained from walking and stair climbing, you will also benefit from short strength-building exercises at various stops throughout the hike such as push-ups, squats, dips and lunges. The idea is to target the same muscles you would target on an actual hike.

Offered seven days a week, this class is great for any guest of Aria because it doubles as a hotel orientation. Not only do you get a great workout but you can also learn the ins and outs of the hotel as well as little known facts about the hotel’s fine art collection. You may even pinpoint where you want to eat your post-workout lunch and dinner, and the bar you want to hit up later in the evening. Or you may opt to spend the rest of your day enjoying the Aria Spa facilities.

Courtesy of Shine

Just be prepared to walk up a whole lot of flights of stairs. Escalators are off limits!

Inverted exercise

Many tourists who want a totally different exercise experience are flocking to a local studio called Shine Alternative Fitness, 6415 S. Tenaya Way, Suite 100, about 20 minutes off the Strip.

With unique fitness offerings like Anti-Gravity Pilates and Anti-Gravity Yoga, this “art”-inspired fitness studio is turning the exercise world on its head  (yes, you will hang upside down in both these classes). Your instructor teaches you how to invert your body on an adjustable lime green silky hammock which flows from the ceiling. It’s definitely quite a rush and an amazing stretch.

Additional classes at Shine Alternative Fitness include aerial silks, pole fitness and more.

Don’t worry if you have no formal training with hanging upside down or scaling a pole. The instructors are extremely friendly and willing to work with you. You’re sure to feel a bit like a Cirque du Soleil performer when you attend a class here, no matter your ability.

When in Vegas, right?

Some other unique Vegas exercise options:

• At the Canyon Ranch SpaClub at Venetian and Palazzo, guests can start their morning with an invigorating 45-minute power walk through Venice.

Courtesy of the Venetian

The spa’s fitness area is also home to a 40-foot rock climbing wall.

• The Bellagio mixes things up with several interesting fitness classes. Chaos Camp takes you through a boot camp-style circuit combining cardiovascular and resistance training methods while TRX Suspension Training uses gravity and your body weight to increase flexibility and strength while improving your core.

“We never want our guests  to have to put their workout routines on hold when they go on vacation, so we listen to their needs and do our best to make classes, equipment and services available to them during their stay,” says Tammi Furce, director of Spa & Salon Bellagio. “Our experienced fitness team stays on top of the latest trends and we are able to adjust our offerings so there is always something new and unique.”

• The fitness center at the Cosmopolitan has a full-size boxing ring available for all fitness center guests to use at no additional charge. They also have a boxing trainer who is available for personalized one-on-one lessons.

LVH offers six outdoor tennis courts with beginner and intermediate classes, as well as private and group classes.

•  Take a burlesque dance class through X Burlesque University at the Flamingo. Taught by the same sexy dancers who perform in the adult revue “X Burlesque,” you will learn the ins and outs of being a Las Vegas showgirl in this 75-minute class, plus you’ll take home a complimentary makeup kit and a souvenir photo.

• Try the striptease cardio and pole dancing class Stripper 101 at the V Theater at Planet Hollywood. Let go of your inhibitions as your inner diva runs wild in a dimly lit studio set up to mimic a nightclub atmosphere. You’ll get plenty of practice dancing on a pole and better yet, cocktails are served!