Grandmaster Dennis Tosten founded the first Amerikick in 1967 and has since taught several champion fighters, police officers, and everyday students karate and self-defense. Today, the lauded chain teaches fitness classes inspired by martial arts, including cardio kickboxing in six states. Each location upholds a curriculum that blends Chinese and Japanese martial-arts styles—including kenpo and tae kwon do—with modern self-defense strategies, further updating traditional practices by eschewing uniforms and belts for casual workout gear. Having attained certification in teaching kickboxing from the National Association of Professional Martial Artists, Amerikick's seasoned instructors also each possess black belts in karate, a rank as difficult to attain as the snake charmer's belt of live cobras.
Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.
Since 2006, the staff at Fusion Fitness Center has fostered a welcoming space for their members to come and find fitness, challenging and encouraging them along the way. Rows of elite Precor cardio machines fill the floor of the main room, including treadmills, elliptical trainers, and bikes. Tucked around the corner in the group fitness room, trainers challenge members with 50-minute team training classes, where exercisers toss medicine balls, swing kettlebells and heavy ropes, and stretch TRX suspension bands until they cry uncle. The trainers limit classes to ten people so they can dole out ample individual attention.
The staff also helps members hone in on individual fitness goals, such as losing weight or running a marathon, during personal-training sessions. To fuel sweat sessions, staffers mix up smoothies filled with nourishing ingredients to help bodies recover or add resistance to tongue-curls.
Pam Andrews didn't stop setting goals after earning a membership to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and a certification in Red Cross CPR and first aid; she also created her own fitness program based on the principles of Middle Eastern belly dancing. Inside the bright yellow walls of Shake It! Fitness Studio, she and her team of licensed fitness instructors and a nutritional counselor engage exercisers in supportive programs such as group dance-fitness classes. They help students blend different dance-exercise styles, while experimenting with classic fitness methods such as interval training, cross training, and kicking down doors. They demonstrate aerobic choreography amid tropical Latin beats in Zumba Fitness, coordinate simple dance moves with Polynesian drumming and reggae in Hot Hula Fitness, and time belly-dancing moves to a blend of R&B, funk, and soul music in Belly Funk Fitness.
Christy, owner of Rhythm and Fitness, has always struggled with her weight. It wasn’t until she found herself running and walking in a half marathon, instead of cheering from the sidelines as she had intended, that she resolved to transform her body, and through that experience, her life. During her journey to better health, she dropped in on a Zumba class, and the rest was history. Christy fell in love with Zumba; she loved how it made her feel, how she lost weight after every workout, and how much fun it was. She resolved to share her newfound love with others and become a licensed instructor. Christy began teaching classes and ended up with more students than she knew what to do with. From there, Rhythm and Fitness was born.
Today, Christy sports a certification in weight management and nutrition, is working toward her PhD in health psychology, and helms a collection of instructors who lead a variety of fitness classes that focus on making cardio exercise enjoyable. They also teach ZumbAtomic classes for kids and host birthday parties complete with high-energy dancing and choreographed candle blowing.
Kickboxing classes deliver a knee to the face of fat, burning up to 860 calories an hour with the high-energy striking moves of martial arts and boxing. All four limbs get in on the bag-bludgeoning action at iLoveKickboxing as each class provides a full-body workout that tones arm, leg, and tentacle muscles while tightening the body’s core and improving balance. Hitting the heavy bags won't skin your knuckles once you don the included boxing gloves, which also double as excellent spring-loaded props for re-creating Three Stooges gags. Class times and dates vary based on location.