When Brian Cain joined the Marine Corps in 1997, he could barely finish the initial fitness test: a 1.5-mile timed run, two minutes of pull-ups, and two minutes of sit-ups. But as he trained, he gained endurance and strength, until eventually, he became the one leading daily workouts—even while putting himself through extra training in the evening. When he returned to civilian life, he kept challenging himself with marathons and Ironman triathlons and helped his friends and family members shape up. In December 2011, Brian founded Evolve Athletics to, as he puts it, "turn my passion into a business." During his boot camps, he challenges people of every fitness level with pushups, sprinting, plyometric jumps, and other exercises, which he mixes up each day. Though he acknowledges that the workouts are "pretty high intensity," he tries to meet each camper where they're at and push them from there. He modifies exercises for beginners, and challenges fitness veterans by adding resistance using Neoprene sacks filled with sand. But Brian sees his boot camps as more than just a one-off fitness class. He views the human body as the quintessential piece of workout equipment. "I want people to understand that you don't need a treadmill or elliptical to get your cardio, and you don't need a weight machine with 16 different stations to do your strength training," he says. None of his workouts require a gym membership to duplicate, so students can easily reproduce them at home or on commuter trains. Brian says his campers have seen their overall health and fitness improve, not only through the exercises, but also with the nutrition advice and help from the online food logs they have access to. One of his students dropped more than 20 pounds during a three-month weight-loss competition he hosted. "She was your typical 47-year-old mother with a couple of kids, really didn't have time for herself," he says. "But she was there every morning at 5 a.m. and just did what she needed to do." For Brian, seeing that change is his reward. "It's taking somebody who hasn't done anything fitness-related in maybe years, and then starting from the bottom floor and seeing them progress," he says. "That's why I do it."
Running on Faith. That’s the acronym and motto behind ROF Bootcamp, and no one understands its meaning better than the camp’s owner and founder, Doug Hazlewood. After catching a “horrifying” glimpse of his body in the mirror, Hazlewood slipped into a brief depression. Deciding that his “bad genetics” were to blame, he essentially gave up on getting in shape. Thankfully, that isn’t the end of Hazlewood’s remarkable story. Once his depression lifted, he began to realize that the secret to health was actually very simple: exercise and nutrition. He dedicated himself to these core aspects of fitness, and he is now fully transformed and happy in his own skin. Doug founded ROF Bootcamp to share his success with others through 60-minute boot-camp classes held six days per week. He and his staff devise intense workouts that combine strength and cardio training and vary as constantly as a weatherman’s political allegiances.
Texas Boot Camp Fitness's certified trainers fortify physiques with an ever-shifting compendium of exercises performed in an outdoor setting. Attendees of all fitness levels sprint and jump toward fitness goals, lifting their own body weight when performing pushups, chin-ups, and acts of levitation. Arms hoist weights, resistance bands stretch between partners, and friendly competitions reveal hidden stores of stamina and strength. Pushing beyond pure leadership of boot-camp classes, instructors supplement workouts with nutritional guidance and lifestyle advice. In the interest of safe and easy mirroring, coaches emphasize clean technique rather than speed or the benefits of cloning.
The Texas Yoga Center helps new and experienced yogis cultivate concentration and flexibility with a variety of 70-minute Hatha-yoga classes. Through a series of detailed instructions, students in beginner and all-levels classes learn basic moves such as the gate stance and chair pose, building a strong foundation for future yoga sessions and woodworking demos. Along the way, they receive personalized attention and a challenging workout from friendly certified teachers who fill each studio with warmth and laughter, welcoming questions as they show how to start a fire with an intensely focused stare. Intermediate-level sessions explore variations on basic poses, deepening the stretches to achieve a greater range of motion. Additionally, a convenient schedule allows participants to hone breathing and mind-focusing techniques that promote relaxation, pain relief, and relaxing scream-free sleep.
Morning and evening, BIOfit Bootcamp's trainers meet with students in parks, patches of grass, and parking lots to do battle with gravity. They lead students through intense outdoor workouts, which incinerate calories without taking too much time out of everyone's busy day. They also bring a splash pad to each session to provide a bit of watery fun for kids who accompany their parents or salmon who get terribly lost on their way to spawn. Even though each participant joins for their own reasons, the trainers try hard to build a sense of community—even offering incentives for current members to bring their friends along to try out the classes.
When Jon Hinds was designing Monkey Bar Gym, he drew inspiration from the playground to create a unique type of exercise that focuses on full-body workouts. The fitness regimen at the gym combines six simple skills learned as a child: running, jumping, crawling, climbing, rolling, and reacting. Jon Hinds and the certified trainers at Monkey Bar Gym have combined these principles into a high-intensity routine that was featured on Fox 6 news and in fitness publications such as Men’s Fitness magazine. “The workouts are intense, but you won’t see any training partners screaming their buddies through forced reps here,” says a reporter from Muscle & Fitness who visited the gym. “The challenges come in making the exercises as efficient as possible and constantly working to a higher level of skill and movement.”
At MBG Cypress, the air-conditioned fitness studio resembles a warehouse, and a set of monkey bars looms in the center of the room. Owner and instructor Leslie Niermeyer helms the classes, walking students through boot-camp, yoga, and strength classes that focus on movements people make every day. Moves vary, but students can often be found doing pushups, pull-ups, resistance-band training, heavy-rope training, and gymnastics-inspired moves on hanging ropes.