When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
Longtime martial artist Val has shown her skills in national competitions, but in her kickboxing classes, the opponents aren't other fighters but rather calories and poor cardiovascular shape. At Body Fit Kickboxing, the full-body effects of the high-intensity workouts reveal themselves quickly, shaping the arms, core, butt, and legs. Mixed with interval training and plyometrics, fast-paced punches and kicks quickly boost the metabolism and boost aerobic fitness.
Armed with various facilities, group classes, and state-of-the-art equipment, 24 Hour Fitness molds amorphous adobe muscles into rock-solid flesh houses. Each location boasts cardio equipment, free weights, a steam room, and group exercise classes so social gym junkies can motivate each other. Group cycling sessions burn calories and increase energy levels, and Latin dance-influenced Zumba classes present a fun, dynamic way to slim meat suits. Before breaking a sweat, check the online schedules for upcoming times.
Since the first Fantastic Sams salon opened its doors 35 years ago, stylists at each locally owned and operated franchise have stayed up to date on the latest industry trends. Before each haircut, a stylist shampoos and massages the scalp for three minutes to relieve tension and cleanse the mane of any gels or Gak. In addition to coiffing or coloring tresses, stylists trim beards and mustaches, or remove them entirely with facial-waxing services. An exclusive line of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products nourish hair with pro-vitamins, soy protein, and silicone.
The sounds of flailing feet and fists correctly striking padded opponents pervade Absolute Martial Arts’ 3,600-square-foot facility, where students learn how to lose weight, tone up, and defend themselves simultaneously. Atop a large mat that the staff disinfects daily, professional instructors lead structured muay-thai kickboxing classes that slowly introduce exercisers to the fundamentals of the 1,000-year-old sport, which is similar to kickboxing and dissimilar to napping. Many of the trainers, including Thai-native Master Toddy, boast years of extensive training and practice, pushing students beyond their perceived limits but always keeping their safety in mind. It also offers Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed-martial-arts classes to allow students a chance to explore new forms or augment their muay-thai practice.
The trainers at The Boxing Gym help clients use their natural assets to get into shape: namely, two fists and a little bit of stress to take out on a punching bag. They splice their boxing and kickboxing lessons with calisthenics, push-ups, and jump roping, keeping the workout fast and varied, and always returning to combative techniques. Beyond the realm of fitness, they also help prepare fighters for the ring with MMA training in the form of submission-grappling lessons and full-speed, pad-assisted kickboxing.