No matter what time it is, someone somewhere is working out at Anytime Fitness. More than 1,800 franchised clubs across the country fling open their doors 24 hours a day, revealing gaggles of equipment designed to make working out less of a chore. Rows of Lifestyle Fitness treadmills and Precor ellipticals mounted with cardio TV let guests work out and catch up on their favorite shows, and Expresso game cycles blend the excitement of playing video games with the exercise of riding your bike to a friend's house to play video games. In addition to copious supplies of free weights, the gym also stocks a Koko all-in-one training machine. The futuristic robot-butler-esque equipment stores individual workout plans and progress on a chip so exercisers can track their performance over time on the built-in monitor.
Doug Schwaberow was sick of the personal-training industry—the repetitive exercise programs, the competition between trainers, and the outdated, even dangerous techniques he saw some trainers using. So he decided to open Achieve Fitness as a better alternative for fitness and sports conditioning. He took a hands-on approach to designing each program, from two types of boot-camp classes to semiprivate fitness sessions. He and his team also lead Sports Performance training for kids from third grade to high school, helping them become stronger, more agile, and less prone to injuries.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed exclusively for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and manage arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help to manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottle to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lifting and lowering motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses pushing and pulling motions to develop toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
My Gym’s nurturing fitness experts coach classes that help make fitness enjoyable and promote positive self-image for kids ranging from 6-week-old dumplings to 13-year-old sprouts. The Little Bundles course begins the adventures for the youngest age set, featuring introductory stimulation, baby-safe rides, and parental discussion on appropriate development and whose infant can do the best burrito impression. Parental involvement continues during the series of three age-appropriate classes for tykes up to 3.25 years, which involve interactive songs, choreographed dance, and puppet shows at the spacious facility. Older children attend sessions independently, sliding on scooters, tumbling on mats, and learning to swing on the parallel bars while eating bananas handed out by the monkeys that emerge from the wall mural when no adults are looking. Lifetime membership lasts until age 13, and unlimited free play lets youngsters burn off energy during unstructured frolicking.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing With the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.