For Fast Fitness Boot Camp’s Chad Skinner, exercise should feel more like play than work, even during intense physical challenges. Filled with obstacle courses, tug-of-war bouts, and games of catch, his 30-minute boot camps summon the fun of grade-school playgrounds even as they push exercisers toward goals and away from lost weekends with the Cookie Monster. Each session pairs cardio activities such as running and hiking with strength-training drills to melt calories and sculpt muscles. In between solo challenges such as pushups, squats, and jumping jacks, participants build friendships during partner activities that foster teamwork and boost energy levels. Personal-training sessions put exercisers up close and personal with Skinner, who coaches them through custom workouts while dispensing exercise tips, nutrition advice, and an abundance of motivation.
The crowd's roar flooded the streets of Chicago as Darcy Zenker crossed the finish line of her first marathon, clocking in at 3:35. After she had been running for years—placing among the top finishers at four half-marathons and competing on the Southern Illinois University track team—she decided she needed a break. She then immersed herself in a new athletic pursuit—group fitness instruction.
Three years later, she became the head trainer of her own boot-camp fitness program, NowFitness, where her years of athletic training and certification in fitness instruction shine through in her workouts. In parks throughout the local area, she and her staff of fellow trainers lead groups through high-intensity workouts that take advantage of their surroundings. She motivates patrons to scale stairs, do crunches on benches, and hoist planks across grassy fields. The trainers also offer a stroller-based boot camp for moms, in which participants blast through cardio and strength-training exercises that incorporate their stroller with baby or a watermelon they've dressed up to look like a baby in tow. In addition to hosting classes, NowFitness pairs patrons with certified lifestyle and weight-management coach Amanda Bickel for a comprehensive five-week nutrition program.
Essential Fitness’s expert instructors use common-sense fitness strategies to help motivate any out-of-shape athlete, bored gym rat, or couch potato so musty it’s sprouted an extra eye. The friendly exercisemen devote plenty of personal attention to each participant; they care about your family, pets, and pets’ family as much as they care about working out, because they know getting in shape is all about you and what you need to start a healthy lifestyle. Workouts will focus on weight loss and strengthening the entire body, so you won't have to worry about your trainer making one of your arms twice as large as the other.
Complete Fitness Results has a well-rounded staff that includes a chiropractor, a registered dietician, a licensed massage therapist, a certified personal trainer, a health fitness specialist, a youth fitness specialist, and a certified kettlebell instructor. Their specialties range from golf fitness to resistance training to weight management, with clients of all ages, from children to seniors. Personal-training sessions take place in one-on-one, small group, and large group settings, with such bonuses as grocery-store tours and nutrition talks.
The trainers at The Boxing Gym help clients use their natural assets to get into shape: namely, two fists and a little bit of stress to take out on a punching bag. They splice their boxing and kickboxing lessons with calisthenics, push-ups, and jump roping, keeping the workout fast and varied, and always returning to combative techniques. Beyond the realm of fitness, they also help prepare fighters for the ring with MMA training in the form of submission-grappling lessons and full-speed, pad-assisted kickboxing.
With an expansive, 1,200-square-foot sprung hardwood dance floor in its 4,000-square-foot space, Central Studio serves a smorgasbord of healthy lifestyle choices. From Pilates and Zumba to classical ballet, jazz, and hip-hop, its expert instructors lead all manner of dance and fitness classes. Other workouts adopt a rigorous bootcamp style, such as outdoor cardio interval training and cardio barre. Elsewhere, the studio offers massages, Thai healing sessions, and personal training; there’s also an art gallery with work from local artists and a library where you can brush up on the latest health and wellbeing literature.