For more than 25 years, instructors and owners Ron and Julie Elrod have shared the knowledge they gleaned as direct students of Soke Hatsumi, the 34th-generation Ninjutsu Grandmaster. Inside the Elrods' 11,000-square-foot facility, adults and children study the foundations of Japanese martial arts in a way that sharpens their minds, centers their spirits, and strengthens their bodies. Along with traditional martial arts, the Academy’s curriculum delves into cardio-kickboxing classes, where fast-paced punches and kicks burn calories without the hazard of using lighter fluid as a dipping sauce. The low student-to-teacher ratio of these classes allows instructors to observe closely as their pupils take on freestanding heavy bags. Both male and female students participate, and the school provides mitts and handheld pads so that students don't have to fashion equipment out of old copies of the Saturday Evening Post.
For more than 10 years, athletes looking to improve their game have turned to Axis Sport. Using their more than 5,000-square-feet of space and equipment including bands, balls, battle ropes, and more, trainers focus on performance training to hone their clients’ agility, strength, speed, power, flexibility, and running mechanics. But you don't have to be an athlete to get fit at Axis. Instructors welcome clients of all levels during group classes, from high-intensity interval training to less intense sessions that aim to get heart rates up and prevent injury.
After absorbing core Pilates principles from Stott & Balanced Body, head instructor Fran gathered a crew of yoga, Pilates, and ACE–certified fitness masters to oversee the classes at Coreworks Fitness. Fran and her staff run two levels of mat classes, as well as two levels of reformer classes in a separate studio dedicated to the foundational apparatus. Students may also stretch their abilities on more advanced apparatuses, including the CoreAlign, which heightens the cardiovascular element of Pilates, as well as improves posture and balance. Coreworks Fitness is also an authorized Balanced Body University training center. The studio's academy equips aspiring instructors with pedagogical techniques and even extends its kinesthetic expertise to the performing arts, with body-aligning workshops for Irish dance instructors.
Deemed the 2006 Small Business of the Year by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, The Colosseum Gym helps men and women to reach new health heights by using a smorgasbord of machines and free weights or enlisting the nutritional counseling and powerlifting tips of a professional. With more than 24 certified personal trainers on staff, the gym strives to toughen physiques of all exercise experience levels through arduous yet rewarding programs, such as strength-and-conditioning workouts that involve surprise 3 a.m. sprints across local lake surfaces. Additionally, a full-time physical therapist can target strained appendages with rehabilitative moves and heat packs. The Colosseum Gym bolsters its community as well as its members, hosting nonprofit initiatives that have benefited the Special Olympics, cystic fibrosis research, and the Howard County School System.
The staff at Top Shape Fitness, led by principal trainer George Tyler, believes that expert guidance is key to workouts. To that end, the fitness center focuses entirely on personal-training sessions and group fitness classes. The company's freakishly strong roots lie in its signature cardio kickboxing class, known as GT Box. In these sessions, trainers blend kickboxing movements with dumbbell training, plyometrics, and other toning exercises. Elsewhere on the weekly schedule, Latin music plays during Zumba sessions, minds and bodies meld in yoga classes, and TRX suspension classes employ equipment developed by US Navy SEALs.
Lights Out Gym's passionate trainers show students of all fitness levels how to punch flab in the face during martial arts-inspired group fitness classes scheduled seven days a week. Bodily transformation begins in fight fitness classes, where participants incinerate calorie piles by punching fitness bags, dragging chains, and performing muay thai kickboxing aerobics without actual strikes. Students master the real thing during Muay Thai kickboxing classes, practicing throwing elbows, kicks, and knees in preparation for the rise of sentient, vengeful punching bags. With sledgehammer exercises, suspension training, and other nontraditional lifting techniques, caveman conditioning sessions sculpt tight bodies while buffing upper body and core strength.
With a drove of dedicated instructors, Synergy imparts peace upon its practitioners through myriad mat classes. Both introductory yoga and Pilates courses––such as yoga for every body, gentle Prana flow, and Mat I pilates––cater to balance-seeking beginners, with a focus on building core strength and overcoming pipe-cleaner envy. In upper-level lessons (including Mat II Pilates and Vinyasa yoga), aspiring Stretch Armstrongs can fine-tune their flexibility with more challenging poses. Specialized classes such as Pilates for Golf help limberize link lovers by bestowing more powerful swings and bogey-erasing Jedi mind tricks. Classes take place in Synergy's 4,000-square-foot sanctuary, where natural wood floors complement expansive sage walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows let stretchers draw real-life inspiration for poses like the tree and the shy centaur. Synergy also fosters a supportive atmosphere for students of all abilities, complete with a relaxing lounge where classmates are encouraged to meet after their scheduled class, to socialize and read each other’s fortunes over cups of tea or coffee.