Members of Evolutions Fitness & Wellness receive access to more than 100 weekly fitness classes, rows of cardio and strength-training equipment, a lap pool, plush locker rooms, childcare services, and a slew of other gym perks. That's not what separates Evolution from other facilities, though. Its distinction as the fitness center for Tulare Regional Medical Center does. And the facility's medically minded take on fitness is evident, from the therapy pool and wellness seminars to fitness assessments and doctor vs. doctor bench-press contests.
Leo Costa, Jr. has experienced a lot in his three-decades-long fitness career—working with celebrities and being awarded Mr. USA by the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association, to name a few—but his masterpiece is the Automatic Fitness program. Developed over the course of 20 years, the program revolves around three elements: nutrition, weight training, and cardio. By using something he has coined "micro circuit training"—which is essentially a constantly changing batch of exercises—Costa, Jr. can keep muscles engaged and eliminate workout plateaus. Also helping to eliminate workout slumps is the program's frequency: only three 30-minute weight-training and cardio workouts per week.
In CrossFit West Visalia’s warehouse-like gym, certified coaches lead programs designed to enhance all physical skills, from strength and speed to agility and flexibility. They get participants shimmying up ropes, hopping atop plyometric boxes, and performing air squats, all in a daily workout, which changes every session. Each exercise features functional movements that strengthen all muscle groups, preparing participants for all physical, sports, and day-to-day activities.
With a multitude of useful-and-creative class offerings for beginners and intermediate students alike, yogis of all levels can find a niche to suit their muscles and ligaments. Kick off the day with morning flow, defeat midday doldrums with a midday yoga session, or challenge your body and mind with an intermediate–Vinyasa class, among many others. A staff of veteran instructors helps visitors bend and flex in a relaxing, non-competitive environment that’s far more welcoming and accommodating than reality television shows like Last Yogi Standing.
Despite its formerly salacious reputation, pole dancing for fitness is steadily earning recognition as the gymnastic sport it’s always been, thanks to studios such as Pole Star Fitness. Inside the ladies-only studio, women can test their strength and flexibility while loosening up their inhibitions in a safe, spectator-free environment.
The decor at Pole Star Fitness reflects its femme-focused attitude with energizing, vibrant pink walls, long mirrors to check your form, and those muscle-challenging poles themselves, each one reaching up into the heights of the studio's open ceilings. Pole Star Fitness's instructors invite women of any age, shape, and ability to attend classes and learn to tap into their own sensuality while practicing routines that build physical strength and stamina.
With eclectic backgrounds in ballet, Scottish Highland dancing, and environmental law, California Arts Academy co-owners and directors Julie Ann Keller and Christopher Campbell bring their students their own distinctive expertise and worldviews. Backed by a cadre of instructors, the duo strives to create a space where kids can freely express themselves through gymnastics and musical theater and can elaborate tap-dance routines that summon the ghost of Fred Astaire. California Arts Academy was also named Favorite for Children's Dance Classes, Art Classes, Music Classes, and Live Theater by the readers of the Central California Parent Magazine in 2013. Not content to just offer classes, Keller and Campbell hold semiannual auditions for their performances.
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.