To create Peak Experiences, the dedicated staff sets more than 125 top-rope routes, lead climbs, and bouldering problems for climbers of all skill levels. Five levels of classes and safety training spanning basic problems such as climbing a bunk bed to lead climbing a 50-foot wall prepare climbers to conquer any of these problems, and the gym also outfits its members with an onsite gear shop that stocks harnesses, footwear, and belay devices such as grigris or ATCs. Kids can also learn climbing skills during youth programs that invite children aged 5–18 and young rocks aged 3,000,000–4,500,000 to climb together with camps, teams, and trips.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength and use more than 150 pieces of cardio equipment, attend over 100 different classes, and play on the racketball court, basketball court and in the pool. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines.
Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated. Members also have access to Kids Care and even tanning booths.
Since 1988, Midlothian Athletic Club has dedicated its 70,000 square feet to myriad forms of achieving healthy living. Whether members want to hone tennis and racquetball skills, break a sweat in group exercise classes such as spinning and BodyPump, or relax in a sauna, they can do it at the MAC. The staff troll a stock of cardio and strength-training equipment, including FreeMotion Elite weight machines, Life Fitness treadmills and ellipticals, and Precor machines, ready to dole out technique pointers. At the indoor pool, swimmers can get a workout on the lap lanes, slip down water slides, or pretend to be toddlers in the kiddie pool. The club also has six indoor lanes, where instructors lead water-aerobics classes that are gentler on joints than moon aerobics.
To help guests recover after a hard workout, the Midlothian Athletic Club hosts many means of relaxation. The massage therapists calibrate their fingers to several styles of kneading, including deep-tissue, Swedish, and myofascial release massage. At the MAC Cafe, chefs sear turkey burgers, bake lime-chili parmesan fries, and blend protein shakes to order for nutritious refueling.
In 1997, Nancy Glenmore Tatum and Kevin Casey founded Glenmore Yoga & Wellness Center in their house's sunroom. Their operation's therapeutic blend of yoga, massage, and consultation services attracted a wide enough student base to necessitate three expansions, and Nancy and Kevin eventually settled in the Glen Eagles Shopping Center. They still uphold a central belief that "yoga is for everyone," and have upheld that philosophy by building a time machine to let the late Ben Franklin participate. Nancy and Kevin have also cultivated a nurturing community with resources such as workshops and teacher training that promote its growth.
The center's impressive roster of yoga classes covers the flowing Vinyasa poses as well as specialty courses for prenatal mothers, older adults, and kids. Every class pays attention to the individual needs of its students, just as the massage services modify their kneads to better treat specific tensions. A calming interior contributes to Glenmore's warm ambiance: two carpeted studios, a massage room, and a lounge accommodate its guests. Students can also borrow the yoga books and videos of the lending library, so long as they turn in their senses of balance as collateral.
At Richmond Balance, trainers forge bodies to match the beauty of life-changing events. Their new mommy boot-camp classes help ladies achieve post-pregnancy goals, such as a slimmer stomach or arms that can change stroller tires without a jack. Support remains the common element of these specialized programs?the staff gathers students with similar objectives and capitalizes on a sense of camaraderie. The same method guides the Balanced Buddies system, in which partners share the same personal trainer.
Even outside the communal atmosphere of classes, Richmond Balance prioritizes an intimate, custom approach to health. Its certified trainers will travel to homes for private sessions or supervise clients as they sweat aboard the gym's Precor, Tuff Stuff, and Schwinn equipment. During workouts, guests can occupy their eyes by watching the individual flat-screen televisions on select machines or by counting the exposed bricks on the walls around them.
Inside the Synergy Tea Room, students can sip herbal brews amid books and calming music in preparation for a challenging or soothing yoga class. As a session begins, they step into the soundproof studio to unfurl their mats on the carpet. The instructor surveys the class—counting no more than 12 heads at a time—and flexes into the first pose, ensuring that between words and demonstration, everyone in class can follow along.
This soothing and gradual progression into yoga practice is a common sight at Synergy Yoga Studio, a Yoga Alliance–registered school and affiliate of the Himalayan Institute. Here, beginners and advanced yogis alike stretch in an atmosphere that eschews competition as much as it welcomes healing energy. Most of the classes are taught in the Hatha yoga style, blending postures with breath work to relax students. During lessons and workshops, the staff emphasizes the value of yoga tenets for holistic wellness—a goal that also informs the treatments of onsite massage and Healing Touch therapists.