Brian Weese, seasoned personal trainer behind Paramount Performance, sports a list of training and health certifications that is as impressive as the lists of professional athletes he has guided. His clients range from Olympic medalists to NHL and NFL players, many of whom he has worked with for 10+ years. At Paramount, Weese also engages trainees of various fitness levels in accessible techniques that help them attain their fitness goals faster. Everyone from aspiring collegiate athletes to routine-happy gym rats can train under these time-tested methods to develop the training foundation, skills, and endurance to have successful athletic careers in a variety of sports.
With more than a half-century of martial arts experience, Trainers Elite owner Grandmaster Ron Van Browning has taken his share of hard knocks. But with every punch to the gut or high-impact kiss on the cheek he sustained, he refined his approach to fighting a bit more, too. Today, he and his team of instructors teach a streamlined form of fighting. Eschewing fancy flourishes, they instead teach practical techniques rooted in self-defense that apply to each of the studio's jiujitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA classes. Inside, the area is spacious enough to hold a 20-foot octagon, heavy bags, and offers plenty of practice space?yet classes stay small to give each each student lots of attention.
More than 40 years ago, the four Machado brothers—Roger, Rigan, Carlos, and John—founded RCJ Machado Jiu-Jitsu to pass on the Brazilian martial-arts knowledge they acquired from the late jiu-jitsu master Carlos Gracie. Although the Machado brothers' legacy now spans TV and movie appearances, plus work with celebrities ranging from Chuck Norris to Usher, their school still takes new martial artists of all ages through the fundamentals and beyond. Some locations also include classes in kickboxing, MMA, and capoeira—a Brazilian blend of martial arts and dance.
Children have flipped, tumbled, jumped, and hurled themselves into the air for more than 20 years at The Gymnastics Place. Kids practice their all-around skills on equipment that includes the vault, beam, and bars. They can also break out into specialized classes that focus on tumbling and trampolining, cheerleading, and hip-hop dancing. The center encourages adult involvement, with Mom & Tots classes—in which tots as young as 18 months old begin learning the basics of gymnastics—and boot-camp classes that ramp up fitness. Or moms and dads can get a night to themselves with Footloose Fridays: kids play and eat pizza at The Gymnastics Place, and parents can stay at home and debate the pronunciation of "Nadia Comăneci."
Q&A with Scott Wilkinson, Owner and Lead Instructor of Impact America Martial Arts
Tell us about your business.
Impact America Martial Arts was founded by [myself], Mr. Scott Wilkinson, a 6th degree black belt. The name is the mission. We intend to "Impact America" with martial arts. We have a strong emphasis on character building. As a matter of fact, we put the character building first and martial arts second. Everything that we do at IAMA is about improving performance, improving behavior, improving thought processes; we use martial arts as the tool to get the point across.
What sets your business apart?
Our focus on character development. Many schools view the traits that martial arts are known for—things like discipline and respect—as byproducts. Our martial arts are strong, as well. With improved character comes improved performance and an increased desire to do well, not because someone is telling you to do better, but because you "choose" to. It's who you are. We raise curiosity about how awesome a student "can" be.
How would you explain the decor or vibe of your business to someone who has never been there?
We have been described as "Warm and inviting" . . . [and] professional. We have a 3,300-square-foot facility, parent viewing area, safety mat on 3,000 square feet, a water fountain, a student staging area and an incredibly knowledgeable staff. Our staff is literally our family. My wife and sons all teach and help run the business. I guess you could say we have a "family" atmosphere. We are laid-back and treat everyone with respect. We are not harsh. We understand that walking in the door takes courage. We respect and reward that kind of thing. The first class experience goes like this: A student gets out on the floor to try the class. The instructor gives them a white belt, just for getting our there and trying. We work on class protocols (saying yes sir/ma'am and no sir/ma'am), We work on five hand techniques and one kick. By the end of the class, the student earns a stripe. They get a reward for showing courage and the willingness to "try." We keep things as warm and inviting and we reward anything that resembles improved character or behavior.
What inspired you to start or run this business?
We know the difference that martial arts made in our (the instructors) lives. Our entire view of the world and people changed by participating in martial arts. We wanted to pass that on in order to make a difference. We wanted to "'Impact America" the same way we have been impacted. We wanted to feel like we are doing our part to make the world a better place.