Matt White cinches his uniform with a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do, heads down to one of Triumph Martial Arts' three locations, and dishes up a fist-full of knowledge earned over 25 years of mat-slapping training. Recognized by the American Tae Kwon Do Association as the Regional Instructor of the Year in 2008 and 2011, Mr. White takes pride in combative victory and from passing those skills on.
In keeping with the Association's instructional format, Mr. White and his battery of four instructors teach the martial art and philosophy of tae kwon do to kids and adults. Tiny Tigers sessions reach out to students as young as 4 years old, teaching them important values such as helping around the house, excelling at schoolwork, and how to survive a wildebeest stampede. Students as old as 55 have started with no experience, going on to successfully earn their black belts.
Twelve shiny poles stretch 12 feet from the floor to the ceiling, though they’re not for structural support—at least not for the building. A skilled, all-female staff uses these poles to help students build internal structural support, particularly focusing strengthening their core muscles. Their classes run the gamut from flirtatious to no-nonsense physical rigor. They teach a dancing divas class that involves abundant cardio exercise and ChickBoxing that unites cardio work with traditional boxing, sans gloves or a trainer yelling incoherently about ducking, or ducks, or duck duck goose. Their website gives an idea of what aspects of fitness each class emphasizes, rating cardio, strength, and flexibility for each course on a 1–5 scale. The staff also makes six different types of memberships available, which run on 12-week schedules and feature various workouts from a list of more than 30 exercise regimens.
Fitness World West has been trimming Iowa's waistlines since 1986. Its three modern, fully equipped facilities hold more than 75 weekly fitness classes, an aquatic program accredited by the Arthritis Foundation, and advanced strength equipment from Hammer, Cybex, and Paramount. During the diverse lineup of fitness classes, the gym's trainers pump up their students' motivation with rigorous, varying workouts that include Zumba, yoga, cross training, and Greco-Roman spelling bees. For one-on-one instruction, personal trainers work with clients to design fitness plans that optimize results, taking advantage of the center’s cushioned track and the cardio theater's elliptical machines, cross trainers, bikes, and treadmills. When working out solo, clients can set brainwaves to one of 80 channels broadcasting from the cardio machines' personal flat-screen TVs, jogging or biking along to motivational music videos, athletic competitions, or home-shopping auctions. The gym’s selection of Olympic free weights stands ready to fatigue muscles before the whirlpool, sauna, or steam room relieves and relaxes deep-rooted aches.
In addition to increasing clients’ physical prowess, Fitness World West's knowledgeable staff help overhaul the unhealthy habits of their clients through computerized fitness assessments and personalized nutrition consultations. And, during workouts, they welcome parents to entrust their children to the kids' gym and nursery, where an eagle-eyed staff member watches over little ones as they romp around or lead troops of G.I. Joe figurines in taxing pushup regimens.
Glaza Studio courses with movement. Live percussionists strike drums during Afro-Brazilian dance classes, hastening the tempo as students transition from warm-ups to folkloric dances. In capoeira sessions, teachers blend acrobatic and fight movements into a workout that makes the heart pound like Thumper's left hind foot. Some classes have a quieter personality. Vinyasa yoga, for instance, strings together a fluid sequence of movements. As participants transition from one pose to the next, they bridge the transition with calm, purposeful inhalations or exhalations. All classes take place in an expansive room that resembles a warehouse. Narrow planks of wood stretch across the floor, and rectangular beams brace the ceiling. Coating the walls, naturally distressed paint gives the space a historical vibe.
The trainers at MaxT3 aren't just exercise enthusiasts, they're scientists. They use the newest breakthroughs in fitness research to create original workouts that not only spike heart rates and increase muscle mass, but also target hormones that help destroy fat. These intense workouts go hand in hand with nutritional guidance and whole-body health lessons that help trainees create healthy habits for life. The team packs all of those components into 12-week boot camp-style sessions during which trainers have witnessed participants lose up to 100 pounds.
Farrell’s eXtreme Body Shaping helps clients of all ages, lifestyles, gender, and athletic ability achieve their fitness goals through results-orientated training. Long-time taekwondo competitor and teacher Lance Farrell developed the program to combat obesity and assist people develop healthy lifestyle habits by incorporating the fat-burning, strengthening and endurance building aspects of competitive martial arts training into a course for those less interested in traditional sparring or contact drills. During 45-minute sessions hosted six days a week, Farrell uses fitness as a catalyst for improving overall health, wellness, and athletic abilities. A 10-week program can result in visible changes sparked by discipline and nutritional commitment.
Having taught high school band for well over 20 years, Roxianne Classen knows the importance of rhythm. She doesn't always need an instrument to explore the concept, however—at Harmony Yoga + Wellness, she showcases a type of music and movement that comes entirely from the human body. She and her staff lead yoga classes that encourage strength, flexibility, and self-awareness, regardless of your experience level. Some sessions, including Vinyasa and yoga for endurance athletes, embrace an intensive practice. Others move more slowly, incorporating elements of meditation or helping beginners to master the basic poses without giving them an extra leg to balance with. There are also courses that take the idea of rhythm more literally, such as Barre 85, which is held in a heated room and combines exercises from ballet, yoga, and Pilates.
The studio helps visitors to achieve calm outside of class, as well. Their resident massage therapist blends eastern and western modalities into muscle-soothing treatments, and a reiki master works to optimize clients' energy flow. Even if you simply feel like relaxing in the space, you can sip on some complimentary tea and browse the lounge's lending library, or peruse the apparel and locally made jewelry in the boutique.