This New Year, resolve to stay in tip-top shape with the help of St. Charles Avenue. Our healthy, beauty and wellness guide contains expert advice on keeping healthy as well as a few recommendations for outstanding local businesses to help make this year your best yet.

Improving your health and wellness doesn’t require a gym membership, but it’s often the easiest way to stay in shape. When choosing a gym, experts say it’s essential that your selection offer a supportive environment, not just the latest technology.

Simply Fit Gym is a New Orleans-area institution offering a health and wellness facility that focuses on creating a casual, intimate feel. Walk in, and employees greet you by your first name. You can also easily get to know other members, which helps you feel confident – not self-conscious – while exercising.

In addition to Simply Fit’s “down home” environment, the three locations all include state-of-the art cardiovascular machines, strength training equipment and personal cardio theatres – entertainment to keep you motivated while you keep your body active.

If you fall in love with the gym but fear commitment, don’t worry. Simply Fit offers unique membership plans that range from monthly to semi-annual contracts. Additionally, you can shop for family plans and couple’s memberships.

It is important to try new kinds of fitness, experts say, because your muscles can grow accustomed to the same exercises over time. Soon, the benefits of working out may diminish.

If you’re in this predicament, stop by New Orleans’ Pure Barre. Pure Barre is a dance-based workout that incorporates ballet with isometric movements to strengthen muscles and promote a long, lean body.

Every class challenges your muscles in a new way because Pure Barre changes the music and moves every time. The workout specifically targets the arms, thighs, seat, abdominals and hips, and classes end with a series of relaxing stretches.

“Pure Barre is for everyone,” says Jennifer Thomas, owner of the New Orleans location. The moves are low impact and don’t affect the joints, so you can safely reap the benefits even with old injuries.

If your friends already love Pure Barre, tag along with them on Fridays to try it for free. You can even throw a “Bachelorette Barre-ty” at the studio to get in shape for your big day.

Chronic pain can seriously disrupt all aspects of your health, and it’s important to be proactive in seeking treatment sooner rather than later. Integrated Pain and Neuroscience encourages patients to explore all options available.

Dr. Eric Royster, who’s double board-certified in Pain Management and Anesthesiology, and Dr. Aaron Friedman, Neurologist and Acupuncturist, are focused on providing the most comprehensive care for painful conditions and the most options for treatment in the region. From medical acupuncture to nerve blocks and neurodiagnostic testing – and even implantable therapies for more advanced options – their goal is to be able to help every patient by offering more options for therapy. Psychiatric and nutritional services are slated to be added this year.

You can also visit Integrated Pain and Neuroscience if you suffer from headaches, back, neck, joint or arthritic pain, or any other painful conditions.

Take Charge Of Your Health, Beauty & Wellness In 2014
Perfect Fit Shoes

If you’re plagued by aches and pains, Virginia “Gini” Davis, PT, MA, of Perfect Fit Shoes says that your footwear may be to blame. Poor-fitting shoes can be a major source of damage, wreaking havoc on your entire body. Never buy shoes expecting to “break them in,” advises Davis, who also owns Crescent City Physical Therapy. If they don’t fit perfectly in-store, they probably never will.

Perfect Fit provides quality, orthopedic shoes. However, don’t let the word “orthopedic” fool you. Perfect Fit’s shoes not only make you feel great, but they also make you look great, too. Whether you’re shopping for a casual flat or formal heel, Davis guarantees that if it’s not stylish, she won’t stock it.

Davis, a licensed physical therapist, opened the store after realizing there was a shortage of fashionable shoes that she could actually recommend to her patients. She personally examines your feet and helps you select shoes that will address your needs.

Perfect Fit Shoes is also a great destination for shoe shoppers on a budget. Invest in a few pairs of healthy shoes now, and avoid having to pay for expensive orthotics or corrective procedures in the future.

If you need medical attention and you’re experiencing life-threatening symptoms, such as chest pains, go directly to the emergency room, says In & Out Urgent Care. But for the common cold that your fourth-grader brought home or broken bones and cuts that require stitches, an urgent care facility could save you both time and money.

In & Out Urgent Care is a money-saving clinic with an upscale feel that can get you back on your feet typically in one hour or less.

If you’re squeamish in medical environments, then this is the perfect clinic for you. The white-marble countertops and crisp décor instantly relax, and instead of intimidating white lab coats, In & Out doctors wear cheerful scrubs. You can even address them by their first names, making it easy to forget that you’re in an urgent care setting.

Walk-ins are welcome, but for vaccinations, sports medicine and medical screening visits, In & Out recommends you pre-schedule appointments for faster service.

Now that you’ve received some tips on how to maintain your health and wellness for 2014, it’s time to turn your attention to the lighter side of your New Year’s resolution: your beauty routine. “Make time for yourself,” says Owner Emily LaBorde Cheramie, of Dry Bar Bleu. “It’s amazing how great you feel after a professional blowout.”

Enter Dry Bar Bleu, which upgrades the fun, new concept of a blow dry bar, a hair salon dedicated exclusively to professional blow-drying, to the highest level of comfort and class.

You can expect rockstar treatment at Dry Bar Bleu. Sip some refreshing cucumber water and utilize the salon’s complimentary iPads to browse through potential hairstyles on Bleu’s Pinterest page – or just surf the Web.

Dry Bar Bleu also offers unique “Bar Tabs,” pre-purchased blowout sessions that you can buy in bundles of three, six, nine or 12, saving you up to $60. The salon even tracks your number of sessions so that all you have to do is relax.

Makeup can be a woman’s best friend or worst enemy, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re spending too much time on your morning makeup routine or have trouble creating event-appropriate looks, try taking a fun makeup application tutorial from a professional beauty expert this year.

Take Charge Of Your Health, Beauty & Wellness In 2014
Tisa Beauty Bar

Tisa Beauty Bar believes that the power of makeup should be accessible to all women. Sharing a delightful space with Angelique Shoe, this beauty bar offers makeup lessons for all ages and skill levels, helping you shine for any occasion. If you’d rather sit back and let the experts do the work, Tisa Beauty Bar also provides application services, perfect for weddings and other special events.

Owner Tisa Camet has been a cosmetics professional for more than 15 years and can help you choose the perfect shades and products that flatter you. The shop features unique, luxury products that are hard to find, such as Lucerne skin care and Being True, a premier mineral makeup line.

The beauty bar also offers eyebrow shaping and tanning services.

Dry Bar Bleu: 701 Metairie Road, Suite 112-2A, 309-5999,
In & Out Urgent Care: 6225 S. Claiborne Ave., 864-8080,
Integrated Pain and Neuroscience: 2801 Napoleon Ave., 300-9020,
Perfect Fit Shoes: 5525 Magazine St., 456-5993,
Pure Barre: 3923 Magazine St., 342-2208,
Simply Fit Gym: 4825 Prytania St., 269-9990; 701 Old Metairie Village, Metairie,
831-3009; 9307 Jefferson Highway, Harahan, 737-1577,
Tisa Beauty Bar: 5421 Magazine St., 891-8992