Throughout his wrestling career, Bryan Harney got his hands on some notable awards–he earned Illinois's Athlete of the Year commendation in 2003 and went on to compete at Michigan State University. As the founder of Southside Knockout, he shares his expertise with other aspiring fighters. He assembled a staff of wrestlers, boxers, muay thai fighters, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts—including former MMA professional Jay Estrada—to offer a comprehensive combative education to his gym's members. Outside of martial arts courses, attendees devour calories in speed- and strength-conditioning courses, swinging kettlebells, or outrunning the gym's boxing kangaroo.
Between the red and white concrete walls of HOTSide CrossFit, fitness enthusiasts scamper up ropes, push and pull on the rowing machines, and pump iron. There’s no mirror or distractions, just the way the certified instructors want it. That way, everyone can focus solely on the workout of the day, a series of intense, fast-paced exercises that changes each session and features functional movements. It’s a system used by police, military, and martial artists to achieve full-body fitness, but through its functional movements it prepares everyone for any physical activity, including day-to-day activities.
A joint venture between a professional boxer and a team of successful kickboxing-equipment tycoons, Title Boxing Club maintains a network of dozens of studios spread across 19 different states, winning over a devoted clientele with its invigorating and engaging boxing- and kickboxing-themed classes. Each workout uses the heart-healthy exercise of cardio training to satisfy people’s innate desire to punch and kick something other than a broken jukebox. Participants build lithe, strong muscle tissue by delivering powerful blows to punching bags, and build flexibility and agility by practicing roundhouse kicks and hooks. Students can build their core strength and endurance with medicine balls and burpees, enlist a qualified personal trainer to practice their newfound skills in the ring, or just torch calories during intense full-body Power Hour workouts.
After attending boot camps for a while, Maizah's motivation fizzled and she dropped the course. But refusing to accept defeat— even if it weren't his own—The Boot Camp Guy's cofounder, Chris Brown, gave her a call and made a case. He showed her some before-and-after shots of people she'd met at the sessions before she left—and was astounded by their transformations.
"That could have been me," she kept thinking. So she headed back to class determined that this time, it would be. Months later, she'd gone from a size 16/18 down to a size 12 with extra energy to boot.
As a former Marine with 14 years of professional fitness experience and a passion for helping people reach their goals, Chris knows that boot camp isn't about the stereotypical screaming drill sergeants depicted on TV. Instead, he and his trainers employ a realistic, no-scales and no-diets philosophy and focus on supplying their students with the motivation they need. They identify each student's fitness level within moments and calibrate their workouts accordingly, pitching the signature boot-camp classes at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. This approach seeks to get students to their own desired level of "skinny", whether that's a size two, size 14, or any other goal. The trainers further outfit their boot-camp base model with nine different tracks—with one designed to shed weight—and total-body sessions up the ante with weights, resistance bands, and mat exercises to strengthen entire physiques rather than honing in on left pinkies. They also encourage students to eat the food they enjoy, and to be mindful of which nutrients their body needs to address deficiencies and restore balance.
The fitness menu unfurls a feast of other group classes. Cycle circuits combine intensive spinning with ab work on the turf and toning dumbbell drills. Cardio-kickboxing classes blend aerobics, boxing, and martial arts. All told, they offer more than 100 classes each month from their well-stocked studio, which the staff stocks with free weights, strength-training machines, exercise balls, and resistance bands.
At House of Phitness & Nutrition, certified trainers lead group and personal training sessions. Athletes sweat through moves that blend calisthenics, plyometrics, functional training, and self-defense, all designed to work with their individual bodies. Classes meet indoors at various gyms and outdoors at area parks during warm months.
Frequented by the Orland Fire Rescue squad, Pro Sports Performance & Fitness helps guests achieve their fitness goals in a sprawling, high-ceilinged facility. The coaches customize workouts for each client, tailoring the moves to help stimulate weight loss or improve sports performance. All the coaches have studied nutrition or exercise science and are athletes themselves.
When someone shows him an invitation to a reunion or a sports meet, Voltaire Hawkins sees a goal for which to strive. He helms VH Personal Training, sharing the skills he acquired through his certification as an International Sports Sciences Association personal trainer. He's certified to train not only athletes, but also children and older adults, combining his vast knowledge of exercise and biological sciences to produce a suite of developmentally appropriate exercises for clients of any age. He enjoys helping young athletes up their game, or young children discover the joy of exercise. He also trains clients toward more concrete goals, helping them look great at weddings or class reunions, and he even provides family discounts so the whole clan can trim up for family meet-ups.