Former college-football player Michael Reeves draws on his years of training and a degree in physical education as president of and a personal trainer at Top Form, a gym and field house. Whether training teams of young athletes or adults looking to get into shape, he blends his academic and practical experience to leave clients with a mental cache of exercises and routines. During personal-training sessions for individuals or groups, Reeves’ cadre of instructors uses muscle-isolating equipment such as stability balls, free weights, and medicine balls to shape cores or kick off impromptu games of dodge ball. On the artificial turf of an indoor field, athletes perform functional-movement drills while pulling weight sleds.
Reeves' wife and the gym’s vice president, Jen, leads mothers with newborns and toddlers through yoga-inspired workout classes. Little ones lie down or break dance on mats during the stretch and light-weight session as parents and progeny bond.
Travis Gil believes fitness comes not only from training the body, but from gaining control of the mind as well. He knows that a physical and mental transformation can be intimidating, so he created Fitness Artist to cater to clients one-on-one or in small groups of two or three. He and his staff of fitness professionals alter their regimens in every session, tailoring the workouts to the clients' levels of fitness and individual goals.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
It’s said that the human mind has problems visualizing large numbers. So it might be hard to conjure an image of the 700,000 athletes Athletic Republic Clifton Park has trained in their 22-year history. Or even the 2,500 of their students who went on to compete professionally. Instead, it's probably easier to think about the proprietary equipment that fills Athletic Republic’s red-walled gym. There's the super treadmill, which reaches speeds of 28 mph in less than three seconds and inclines up to 40 degrees. There’s a hockey treadmill that angles blades up a slope, boosting skaters' power and agility. And there are conditioning cords that add resistance to common moves from many sports, including baseball, golf, and soccer.
This innovative approach to athletic training has its roots in John Frappier’s time with the US National Team during the 1986 Goodwill Games. After losing repeatedly to the Soviet Union athletes, he discovered the need to improve his team’s training methods, including the machines they worked out on. The technology he developed is still used by Athletic Republic’s certified trainers in group camps and classes, one-on-one training sessions, and carefully synchronized treadmill dances.
Though the locally owned ABC Sports and Fitness has been in business since 1989, its sparkling rows of modern fitness facilities make it seem brand new. Past its rows of circuit machines and strength-training equipment lies a full gymnasium with a cushioned indoor track, where instructors lead more than 80 fitness classes throughout the week. Within a private cycling studio, 30 professional indoor bikes bustle and hum during group spinning sessions. Changing rooms house sleek wooden locker rooms and a sauna, along with showers where guests can belt out commercial jingles in privacy. While visiting the gym, members can also take advantage of onsite childcare facilities, professional tanning booths, and regular senior-citizen community group meetings.
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. 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.