Head trainer Lee Gravlee humbly founded Gravlee Fitness in his mother's garage 20 years ago and eventually expanded his business to a duo of Birmingham-area gyms staffed by nine trainers and fitness instructors, and was nominated for an award as one of the best gyms in northern Alabama in the process. The Mount Laurel hub’s legion of treadmills, ellipticals, and stairmasters torches calories before free weights forge new colonies of lean muscle. Upstairs, an expansive fitness studio hosts Zumba, Pilates, and yoga classes, Fit Train, TRX, and senior sessions, and thumb wars between patrons who wish to be the first to descend the stairs back to the first floor. TRX sessions levitate limbs in hanging straps to create body-weight resistance and toughen toning moves, and high-energy Zumba sessions torch calories with a Latin-inspired dance routine set to international hit tunes.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Campus Recreation Center opens its doors to the community, encouraging fit-seekers of all ages to get active. The all-inclusive 150,000-square-foot facility has it all: swimming pools, cardio and weight-training equipment, aerobics studios, and an indoor track. For those who like to mix calorie burning with friendly competition, the site also hosts basketball, racquetball, badminton, and volleyball courts; an indoor soccer and floor hockey field; and even a climbing wall. Kids aren't left out of the fun, either. The center hosts kids' day camps, packed with athletic activities and arts and crafts, and welcomes youths to imitate mountain goats on the rock wall or play racquetball in the supervised Kid Zone.
Co-owners Cindi and Barbara put their 57 combined years of fitness passion to use by helming a team of expert instructors and stocking their bright, sunlit studio with cutting-edge equipment. During cycling sessions, instructors help students torch calories and tone muscle groups atop state-of-the-art RealRyder stationary bikes, which behave like real bikes by leaning into turns and cowering at the sound of thunder. They also work to enhance cores with brand-new Reformer machines in guided sessions for individuals or partners.
Pilates on Highland's dedicated instructors pool their collective experience from backgrounds in dance, fitness, and gymnastics to help students firm their physiques in dynamic Core Barre classes. In the well-equipped spearmint-hued studio, natural light washes over lush, nonsentient plants as students flex and bend during 55-minute Core Barre sessions. Using their own body weight for resistance and grasping a ballet barre for balance, students tone legs and arms while strengthening cores through precise isometric exercises. The fluid poses work to lengthen limbs and improve posture more gracefully than balancing the sheet music for Swan Lake on your head. To ensure attentive instruction, each of Pilates on Highland's Core Barre classes, like the national census, caps at 10 participants.
Devised by Pure Barre founder Carrie Rezabek, these fusion classes balance the grace of dance with the exertion of lifting and the soothing stretch of stretching. Each 55-minute session loosens, strengthens, and lengthens the body through a smooth blend of the ballet barre, weight training, and limbering Pilates. In the process, you'll tone your tush, thighs, hips, arms, and abs; burn fat efficiently; and block out the invasive anxieties of the real world, such as the lingering dread that squirrels are evolving faster than us and will soon top the food chain. Because the Pure Barre workout shuns any jumping or bouncing movement, already overworked and somewhat disgruntled joints will be spared any further stress. Classes are scheduled in the morning and evenings most days of the week.
Instructors lead private, semiprivate, and group Pilates classes in Studio G Pilates’s cozy space. A wall of mirrors enables clients to watch their technique as they tone their body with Pilates equipment and a ballet barre. Daily classes are geared toward beginners, advanced students, and both men and women.