Frills equal distractions when it comes to working out. That's according to the certified trainers who own CrossFit Hardcore North, a member of the gym family named the sixth-best in America by The Active Times. That's why none of their classes involve fancy treadmills, designer rubber bands, or high heels. Instead, classes feature trainers such as Dr. Adam Locker and Rachel Batista who lead students through group classes and personal-training sessions, and seasoned coaches who oversee each participant, monitoring progress as they deliver safety tips and words of encouragement.
Gymnastics-inspired bodyweight exercises such as handstands and muscle-ups build lean muscle mass, and plyometrics foster agility and stamina. Many sessions also incorporate running or rowing to raise heart rates and melt calories. In addition to sculpting lean muscle, kettlebell training cultivates flexibility with focused squats and swinging motions. Instructors also instill in their clients the CrossFit style with functional movements that aim to boost strength, power, and coordination.
Workouts take place in warehouses and other spartan spaces that embody a cultivated lack of the bells and whistles that often masquerade as fitness essentials. Here, basic tools such as kettlebells, jump ropes, and weighted sleds get the job done for a wide range of exercisers, from absolute beginners to advanced athletes. In addition to adult classes, the coaches train kids aged 4 and older using CrossFit workouts scaled to different levels of strength, endurance, and giggliness.
Instructors Chris Kidawski and Devin Delucia lead intense CrossFit sessions with a focus on proper form and movement. Kidawski, a former personal trainer for several NFL players, brings the same expertise to training amateur athletes and everyday exercisers. Devin, a natural teacher and communicator, is able to fine-tune workouts to individuals. Together, they push people to their limits while remaining cognizant of caring for stressed muscles and avoiding injury. Running, biking, swimming, and rowing exercises are incorporated into their CrossFit workouts to enhance physical abilities such as strength, endurance, and flexibility, among many others.
Joao Amaral is so tough, he teaches cops how to fight. The head coach at the Brazilian Top Team (BTT) studios in both Boca Raton and Boston, Amaral boasts a resumé that includes training law-enforcement departments and winning in tournaments such as the Brazilian national championships. At the Boca Raton facility, Joao and assistant coach Matt Janzer lead group and private classes that include both gi and no-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu; the former is a grappling technique that aims to give smaller people the leverage to take down a larger assailant, and the latter is more like traditional wrestling. BTT's muay thai classes, featuring a style of boxing often used in cross-training with jiu-jitsu instruction, can be adapted for those interested in competitive fighting or for those simply looking to get fit or learn self-defense.
The instructors at Zen Den Yoga School are so dedicated to creating a welcoming community environment that they eschew rigid class prices. Instead, they ask only for donations, inviting everyone to join them in sun salutations during chakra flows and vigorous vinyasa classes despite their financial background. Led by founder of the school and studio, Ira Schneider—a 500-hour RYT certified instructor—has spent the past three years teaching on his yoga farm in Guatemala and has recently brought his teachings of sadhana yoga to South Florida. The studio's instructors—all of whom have completed at least 200-hour Yoga Alliance certification program—alongside Ira, help students of all ages and abilities develop their own personal practice and celebrate life.
A veteran fighter and instructor for over 30 years, Barry Stephen helps impart fighting skills to the next generation at Stephen's Karate and Kickboxing Center. Boxing, kickboxing, karate, and MMA classes meet seven days a week, teaching self-defense skills, concentration, and self-control to amateur fighters, first-timers, and children. In addition to his other responsibilities, Barry serves as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University, where he is always on hand to roundhouse a misbehaving snack machine in the teachers' lounge.
The martial-arts masters at Elite Force Martial Arts help kids and adults employ practical self-defense tactics while shedding calories. Through a lineup of muay thai, Israeli self-defense, and kickboxing classes, instructors foster an upbeat environment as they guide students through rigorous 45-minute sessions in a variety of styles, each designed to boost confidence and strengthen limbs.