Certified trainer, AJ Tucker, acquired myriad methods of staying fit while playing college football, training for jui jitsu, and during his four-year service with the U.S. Army. Today, he molds all that experience into a three-day-a-week boot camp that incorporates strength straining, a specialty class such as boxing, and a session designed for fun where participants buddy-up and complete a more light-hearted session of exercises. He also offers private boot camps that can be held at the office, school, or front yard.
After spending nearly 15 years experimenting with fad diets and ineffective workouts, James and Stephanie Cuilty found a program to which they could commit. The nationally certified personal trainers now lead the 45-minute classes at Warrior Fit Club, encouraging guests of all ages and builds to conquer a diverse palette of exercises. Five days a week, they gather campers indoors for an ever-changing, customized medley of cardio, resistance, and abdominal-tightening maneuvers. They motivate groups with supportive mantras and dispense basic nutrition tips, such as “Don’t eat that Necronomicon,” to instill healthy habits for life.
At Hip Hop Heels, high-heeled shoes aren't dainty accessories, but fierce dancing tools. Owner Geena Ngaaje encourages her students to don comfortable heeled boots for her signature classes, thereby increasing the workout for their lower bodies and injecting the choreography with style. Geena and her team practice a combination of hip-hop, street, and burlesque dance, often channeling the moxie of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Ciara. They also pull from personal experience as performers—their resumés list back-up gigs with the Black Eyed Peas, LL Cool J, and Pitbull.
Their sessions aren't geared entirely toward stars on the rise, however. Whether they're demonstrating sensual hip rolls during Pumps and Grinds or the seductive shimmies of Cabaret, they cater to women of all experience levels, from first-timers to fellow pros and animated characters that are drawn to dance. They also host workshops for beginners, which focus on becoming confident in heels. Private parties allow guests to choose their preferred dance style for a customized lesson, and special-event workshops cover entire routines, including holiday-themed performances set to "Santa Baby."
After choreographer Carrie Rezabek Dorr’s background in ballet and fitness inspired her to develop the Pure Barre workout, she had to build her business from the ground up—literally. She opened her first studio in the basement of a Birmingham, Michigan office building in 2001. She worked alone, lacking even the basic amenities—but her ideas persevered. Today, Pure Barre has grown to include studios in 32 states and Washington, DC, and its core teachings have been lauded in publications such as Women’s Health and Allure.
Described as “intelligent exercise,” the Pure Barre program leads its students through low-impact, isometric movements conducted at the ballet barre and set to upbeat music. The workouts eschew sudden movements that could result in joint damage. Instead, they rely on a blend of strength-building exercises and stretching to build lean muscles in the seat, thighs, abs, and arms, much like the pre-speech warm-ups championed by Benjamin Franklin. Pure Barre’s shop helps customers stay fit outside the studio with products such as workout DVDs, exercise gear, water bottles, arm warmers, and socks.
Its rapid rise chronicled in in Forbes, Men’s Journal, and a parcel of other press, Hiking Yoga has sent massive waves of invigorated bliss washing up and down the west coast since its 2009 founding. Each of its outdoor excursions melds the cardio workout of hiking with the stretching and measured breaths of yoga. Certified instructors lead pupils through scenic vistas, or, in early-morning sessions, impressionistic dreamscapes, as they alternate between heart-pumping strides and yoga breaks suitable for neophytes and the pretzel-capable alike.