In 1959 German dancer Lotte Berk turned a back injury into the beginnings of a fitness phenomenon. Whether it was clairvoyant foresight, a prophesy spelled out in alphabet soup, or just plain stubbornness to dance her way through an injury no one knows, but her combination of ballet training and rehabilitative therapy formed the foundation of The Lotte Berk Method exercise studio. In 2001, after decades of running her own Lotte Berk studio, journalist and entrepreneur Burr Leonard teamed with a physical therapist to refine the movements of this workout to target specific muscles while reducing the impact on joints. The result became known as the Bar Method. Since the opening of Burr’s first studio, The Bar Method franchise has grown to 65 locations in 18 states across the United States and British Columbia, Canada. More than 80,000 students take these classes per month including celebrities Drew Barrymore, Ricki Lake and Anna Paquin.
Clambering up a brick wall. Vaulting over a railing. Somersaulting down from the top of a wall. It's all part of parkour. In APEX Movement’s 11,000-square-foot gym, parkour classes build a fitness foundation for students aspiring to these advanced tricks. APEX’s founder, Ryan Ford, mastered these moves—as well as basics such as quadrupedal movements, basic gymnastics, and freerunning tricks—through trial and error. Now that parkour has become a more established sport, he teaches newbies more efficiently than he taught himself, aided by a team of instructors. All have completed a 120-hour training program, and are well-versed in subjects such as “Demon Drills,” an online series focused on complex parkour stunts rather than on donning a horn-equipped headband.
The team complements their parkour training with a variety of other classes in gymnastics, freerunning, and daily changing CrossFit workouts. The gym also hosts solo workouts, where visitors can conquer Ninja Warrior obstacles such as the salmon ladder and the unstable bridge or bounce on trampolines and other gymnastics equipment. They can also wield strength-training tools such as kettlebells, dumbbells, and bells that have hands and try to push pack.
It’s all about personalization at Fitness together. Here, certified personal trainers guide clients of all skill levels through motivating one-on-one and small-group training sessions designed to meet goals loftier than a giraffe’s basketball hoop. To help their charges torch calories and tone muscles as efficiently as possible, the trainers customize programs to individual goals and incorporate evidence-based training methods, such as intervals, tempos, and fartlek, into each fitness regimen. In-studio sessions take place in a studio flush with energizing green walls and functional training tools such as medicine balls, kettlebells, and gymnastics rings.
The trainers at Streets Fitness believe that to progress physically, fitness relies on variation. To that end, they encourage clients to explore the gym’s full stock of weight-training and cardio equipment, as well as its 40 weekly classes. The class selection includes self-defense training such as boxing and kickboxing, in which guests burn calories as they perfect their martial techniques and figure out their entrance theme songs. And circuit training and core-conditioning sessions are also available, including The Grid, a full-body cross-training workout that was voted one of the area's best workouts by the Daily Camera. Streets also offers one-on-one personal-training sessions, in which coaches fine-tune workouts depending on patrons' goals and the severity of their heavy-bag phobias.
Cat Zingano has racked up a 7-0 record in mixed martial arts, and she brings her fighting aptitude and personal drive to her classes at Alpha Cats. In high-energy classes, she leads women through circuit training, conditioning, and kickboxing workouts that aim to improve coordination, boost strength, and tone bodies. By leading women-only workouts, the studio aims to create a comfortable atmosphere where everyone can work toward their fitness goals without judgment.
As a teenager, Master Mauricio Zingano studied under members of Brazilian jujitsu's founding family, the Gracies, including Grand Master Helio Gracie himself. Nowadays, at Zingano Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he and his seasoned staff—which includes his wife, UFC fighter Cat Zingano—relay the Gracie family's teachings to students young and old. Although their main program is Brazilian jujitsu, they also fit mixed martial arts, muay thai kickboxing, and youth martial arts classes into the jam-packed schedule.
Gym-goers at Off the Wall Fitness may also be off the floor, as they swing on the adult-size monkey bars nicknamed the Green Goliath. The Green Goliath's 16 rungs are suspended from the ceiling by rope, forcing those who take it on to compensate for it shifting, building muscle and stamina as they swing. Group fitness classes and one-on-one personal-training sessions are also elevated beyond the typical workout through exercises based on last night's football game and the month-long Shred-a-Palooza challenge. The studio also offers yoga classes, which aim to cultivate peace of mind and increase flexibility.