More than three decades have passed since head instructor Bobby Giordano founded American Martial Arts Center. Giordano spent that time earning not one, but five black belts, and learning the ropes of muay thai and jeet kune do. The former bodyguard spreads his expertise to the masses through private martial-arts classes and enlists a staff of talented instructors to amplify the effect. Together they expound practical self-defense techniques designed to preempt attacks in the ring, on the streets, and in grocery-store aisles the day before Thanksgiving. Teachers whip students into shape during mixed-martial-arts, muay thai, Brazilian jujitsu, and kickboxing classes, which are all practiced in a fun, safe environment.
Kids and teens warrant their own kid-friendly branch of the business. Whereas adult classes aim for fitness and skill, the kids’ sessions emphasize values such as self-confidence and self-discipline, which come in handy when betting a punching bag that you won’t punch it.
During afternoons at Together in Motion, children, accompanied by their parents, safely crawl through tunnels, practice somersaults, or explore a Parthenon made completely out of padded building blocks atop a cushioned floor. Evenings, however, turn the tables, allowing grownups to take over the space to fling dodgeballs at opponents or rehearse martial arts strikes in time for their kids' Bring Your Ninja to School Day. Weekend nights find thumping dance soundtracks traveling through the rooms, as black-light parties for teens and tweens celebrate birthdays and raise funds for nonprofits.
Though they admit disparate age groups, these classes and events provide a venue for guests to connect through movement. Together in Motion's facility rents its rooms to independent organizations—Social Boston Sports and Arlington Martial Arts among them—that encourage exercise and camaraderie. From the Latin-inspired beats of adult-centric Zumba classes to the musical motor-skill activities of Movin' Groovin' Tots, all of the programs foster both communal support and a healthy sense of self-confidence.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
There are more black belts in Mass BJJ's Acton and Arlington studios than even the biggest of Johnny Cash's walk-in closets. Though in this case, they're tied around the waists of expert martial arts trainers, who teach the finer points of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to both kids and adults. This particular martial art form focuses on getting an opponent to the ground, where size doesn't matter and proper fighting technique reigns supreme.
While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu inspired Mass BJJ's name, it isn't the only discipline taught atop their red padded floors. In fact, the instructors encourage students to mix different classes to get a well-rounded martial arts education. To that end, they lead kick-boxing, MMA, and general strength-conditioning classes.
With locations spanning the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, iLoveKickboxing.com has trimmed the waistlines of thousands of members while bolstering their confidence levels with engaging and varied total-body workouts. The program blends kickboxing techniques into a fat-burning, muscle-toning, and endurance-enhancing regimen. Limbs warm up with a quick jog before taking down imaginary opponents with a set of practice kicks and punches to drive home proper technique. The pummeling then switches to the one of many freestanding heavy bags, and incorporates ducking and weaving to boost heart rates. Teamwork drills help members tone up while cultivating camaraderie, which could lead to a partnership inspiring future buddy-cop-movie sensations.