Run by a family of fitness gurus, Spa Fit makes charismatic fitness coaching during group exercise classes one of its highest priorities, second only to making sure gym-goers properly match sweatbands to leotards. Improve posture and reduce muscle tension with a series of floor and standing poses during yoga classes, or send puny core muscles through a brawn-building assembly line during Pilates sessions. With the 60-minute Cycle-Lates classes, students spend half the time burning calories on a cardio bike and the other half building lean, toned muscles doing mat Pilates exercises. Meanwhile, Zumba classes provide high-energy sweat sessions, during which fitnessmongers of all ages and experience levels tone their bodies by performing kinetic Latin-dance-inspired moves to the rhythms of motivating music or the tense sounds of a Stephen King audio book.
In 2003, String Theory’s owner and primary instructor, Luke Currie, earned a bachelor of arts degree in film scoring from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. His knack for arranging notes and effectively setting the tone of movie scenes later earned him a residency at the Performing Arts Institute of Virginia, where he further honed his skills in composition. By 2009, Currie’s growing passion for teaching music prompted him to open String Theory Music Lessons, an informal institute for aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels to learn how to compose melodies, sight-read chord charts, and stimulate plant growth using their guitars, basses, or other instruments.
With three locations in the Valley area, Roanoke/Botetourt Athletic Clubs offer extensive facilities, a focus on member convenience, and a variety of group-exercise classes a week. (Class descriptions and schedules here.) Membership to any of the clubs allows you to use all three facilities. The family membership includes the buyer, his or her spouse, and any children younger than 21 who live at home. Both membership options offer unlimited workouts at any of the locations, allowing patrons to keep their muscles nervous and on edge by constantly varying the time, frequency, and location of exercise. Fitness seekers at the Roanoke Athletic Club and Botetourt Athletic Club can make use of cardio theaters, gymnasiums, steam rooms, professional-grade racquetball courts, and the track. Indoor and outdoor pools allow aquaphiles to immerse themselves in the object of their love year-round, and pool-goers at the Botetourt location can combine the joy of swimming with low-friction delight in the form of a 23-foot water slide. Complimentary child-care is also available at the Roanoke and Botetourt locations. Members with little time can participate in lightning workout rounds at the smaller, more centrally located Zoom express fitness center in downtown Roanoke (however, your Groupon cannot be initially redeemed at this location).
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.
In 1997, Richard Smiley began to feel cramped. It wasn’t his muscles—as a competitive triathlete and Ironman participant for more than 25 years, he knew how to stay in peak physical condition. Instead, it was the gyms he frequented. As Smiley saw it, many training facilities prioritized rising membership numbers over the comfort and individual needs of their members.
The 2,200-square-foot gym he founded, Smiley-Fitness by Design, features treadmills, Nautilus Circuit stations, recumbent bikes, and squat racks, but it’s the people there that make it unique. You could also say that it’s the lack of people. Smiley oversees a staff of ACE-certified trainers and strength and conditioning specialists, who guide small-group classes and attend to a deliberately limited membership base. They offer personalized exercise plans, nutrition plans designed by a registered dietician, and training services, all inside an intimate gym setting where members can exercise under the guidance of experts without feeling rushed or being asked to fill in as a barbell.