The techniques that Lauren Birkel imparts to her trainers are the same ones she used on herself while preparing for and completing the rigorous Ironman World Championships in 2005 and 2011, as well as the France-held International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championships in 2007. With this history of achieving difficult goals, Birkel knows how to inspire students without commissioning a band of rabid coyotes to chase them while they run.
She and her many cotrainers use these thoroughly tested methods of motivation to push students toward healthier lives in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group training sessions. She decks out her indoor studios with all the necessary equipment for personal-training sessions and isn't afraid to lead all-outdoor boot-camp academies in the heat or rain.
No matter the hour, the rhythmic beat of sneakers hitting treadmills resounds in Snap Fitness's 24-hour studio. The network of gyms stretches across the country, each housing state-of-the art cardio and strength-training equipment that scorches huge batches of calories, like an Easy-Bake Oven scorches cookies when it's souped up with nitrous oxide. IPod hookups and TVs turn treadmills and stair steppers into personal entertainment centers. Unlike impersonal big-box gyms, Snap Fitness's staff subtracts intimidation from the experience with free equipment orientations, custom workout plans, nutrition tips, and hand-crocheted workout shorts for all members. During staffed hours, peppy instructors lead fitness classes such as turbo kickboxing, plyometrics, and aerobic blast.
Absolute Pilates?s instructors are far from old-school. Though they each boast extensive training in traditional Pilates?and teach classic mat classes?they focus largely on incorporating modern equipment into the ancient practice. Pilates Reformers, Towers, chairs, and even the barre are used during classes, often in combination with each other to optimize workouts and results. The equipment helps students of all levels maintain their balance and target dormant muscles, transforming standard Pilates into a more effective workout. But teachers still maintain the welcoming, personal environment long attributed to Pilates studios and grandma?s doomsday bunker.
Led by owner and fitness enthusiast Sandi Vande Berg, the expert personal instructors of T3 Fitness focus on customizing workout routines to suit individual needs. They lead small groups through FIT Club sessions designed to increase strength and endurance, as well as Pilates classes that promote strong cores and flexibility.
Elite Sports Clubs and its staff of smash-savvy, nationally experienced tennis pros can turn any mechanical stroke into fluid forearmed success on one of more than 30 well-maintained indoor and outdoor training courts. For players seeking to get back into the game or meet the game for the first time, an instructor will spare no bead of sweat breaking down the basics in a comprehensive fashion. Semi-private lessons are limited to two to four students ($30, four players; $35, three players; $40, two players), which means all practitioners develop a variety of techniques in the atmosphere of constant feedback and encouragement. All lessons must be scheduled in advance online. Students can either provide their own racquet or purchase one on-site.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
In 2014, Curves partnered with celebrity fitness expert Jillian Michaels to design a new take on its traditional circuit. These workouts incorporate functional bodyweight exercises—each with modifications—into the existing sequence, providing a slightly more intense gym experience intended to jump-start metabolisms while still forging lean, toned muscles.