Thomas Volmer credits his wife, Rachel, for inspiring them to start helming boot camps. She wasn’t always a fitness guru, though. "She was a commercial banker and she was 70 pounds overweight," Volmer recalls. Once she started to reclaim her life, "she just fell in love with fitness," he says. She eventually dropped 80 pounds with proper exercise and nutrition, spurring her to earn her AFAA personal training certification and pursue a career as a full-time trainer.
Personal experience lends Rachel and the other trainers—including Sharon Monk, who lost more than 200 pounds by exercising and eating healthily—empathy and a motivating demeanor when working with campers. At each location, they get groups doing pushups, swinging kettlebells, and flipping tires in a positive environment that's focused on teamwork, rather than competition. "You start as a group, you finish as a group," says Thomas. "But the activities that you do in between might be different based on your abilities."
In addition to leading sessions, Rachel creates easy-to-use online meal plans (including a vegetarian plan), which campers can customize to help them stay on track. Options range from the simple, such as cereal with fruits, nuts, and flaxseeds, to the creative, including honey-sweetened oatmeal peanut-butter cookies. She also includes the calorie count for each recipe. Users can pick from simple meals made for one person or larger entrees designed with an entire family or pet elephant in mind.
After shedding the extra pounds that came along with hypothyroidism and three pregnancies, Melody Chandler founded Texas Fit Chicks Boot Camp to share her weight-loss strategies and support with other women. Her all-female staff of certified personal trainers helps exercisers of all fitness levels shape their bodies during group fitness classes. In an effort to challenge muscle memory, the team shakes up workout regimens by using different techniques and equipment—including kettlebells, resistance bands, and lead sweatpants—each day. Melody’s team also helps exercisers retain their results by supplying nutrition support with meal plans and recipes that use healthy ingredients.
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Allen Yoga Center founder and certified instructor Brook Cheatham believes that "Yoga is more than an exercise. It gets into you at the very core of your being … your emotional baggage is stripped away along with your ego.” After years spent as an instructor at various studios, Brook decided to open her own space, where students can reflect on themselves while cultivating their physical and mental well being. The mocha-stained hardwood floors complement the yoga center's warm plum-and-gold walls, which are intentionally bare, hosting only a single portrait of a multilimbed deity, Gary the Octopus. Brook leads classes ranging in intensity from the cardiovascular-stimulating Vinyasa to the restorative and meditative Hatha. Regular workshops welcome guest instructors to educate students on a variety of wellness topics, and the teacher-training program grants knowledge to those who wish to someday lead their own classes.:m]]
Cathy Moses Baldasserini studied dance and therapy and received full scholarships to New York dance conservatories such as Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey. She began practicing Pilates as a way to hone and refine her body, the instrument of her self-expression. Now, she teaches it full time at her fitness-dedicated studio, Pilates for Life.
Joined by nine other teachers, Cathy reforms students' bodies with both basic and machine-assisted Pilates, yoga, kettlebells, and tai chi classes. She uses Pilates for its renowned ability to strengthen the site of injuries or chronic pain and to provide conditioning for weak joints, problem backs, and those who have osteoporosis. She also implements devices such as reformers—a system of pulleys and sliding platforms that enhance Pilates's classic horizontal exercises—and towers, which incorporate the natural resistance of gravity into Pilates movements.
Celebrating their 11th year in business this year, Transformation Boot Camp’s team sums up their philosophy on living in one simple phrase: “We are never done.” In that spirit, Transformation Boot Camp celebrates positivity, teamwork, and the gallons of sweat that fuel people down the path to fitness. Each boot camp begins with a body assessment that allows students to track every ounce, inch, or percentage of body fat lost. To compliment the cardio-heavy circuit training, Transformation Boot Camp offers a set of Power Tools to help each boot-camp member hit their goals, including meal planners and refrigerators that make wisecracks about unhealthy food choices. All of this explains why Transformation Boot Camp was named Living magazine's "Best Weight Loss Program in North Dallas" in 2013 and 2014.
Owner Tomer Litvin discovered his passion for muay thai more than 18 years ago. His amateur exploits in the ring eventually led him to a spot in Fairtex’s world-renowned personal-tutoring program, the chance to go padded fist to padded fist against numerous European champions, and a career as a certified Fairtex instructor. Also holding a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu, Tomer now channels his love of the martial arts into helming his own school.
In addition to the striking form of muay thai and the grappling art of jujitsu, Tomer and his staff also teach the highly practical self-defense art of krav maga. In these mixed-martial-arts classes, students can put the varied fighting disciplines together to form a comprehensive sport-fighting system useful for defending themselves, sparring, or staging performances of Mortal Kombat: The Musical.