Gymnastic rings, wooden crates, kettle bells, and climbable structures dominate the spacious interior of Raise the Bar Fit Club. Bordered by white cinderblocks, a black floor striped with sunlight, and a white board that tracks reps, this facility provides the perfect proving ground for certified CrossFit trainers eager to challenge trainees during intense workouts.
Group fitness is the specialty here. Instead of offering classes in dozens of disciplines, the club adheres to a single program: its own signature workout. Incorporating workouts as varied as weightlifting, gymnastics, and trophy-polishing, the program can be tailored to be as demanding or newbie-friendly as possible. Each engaging workout includes modifiable, personalized exercises to prepare the body for everyday physical challenges. Exercises often include tire dragging and flipping, rope climbing, and sledgehammer swinging.
Before getting started with this program, trainees are encouraged to attend one of the club's Start Up sessions. During these initial meetings, trainer demonstrate the techniques used in Raise the Bar workouts, such as squats and deadlifts. "We are not about mirrors and headphones," proudly declares the mission statement; instead, student embrace ideals including the pursuit of health, personal accountability, and forging friendships that will last a lifetime.
Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
The trainers at Affinity Fitness customize every exercise regimen and nutrition program to suit the health needs of each client. This approach emphasizes group classes as well as one-on-one instruction, and relies on workouts that incorporate more than one type of training. The schedule of more than 40 weekly classes includes boot camp, circuit training, indoor cycling, and Piloxing sessions. The studio also provides more unique classes, such as a Wing Chun and MMA class taught by a Hong Kong-trained master, and small group-training classes focused on a specialized format, such as interval training or extreme patty-cake.
Warrior Gym’s founder John Alvino’s strength-, core-, and conditioning-based workouts are designed to increase strength and decrease body fat to jump-start transforming your body. Training involves whipping battle ropes, doing handstands and chin-ups, and hefting kettlebells during routines personalized by one of the trainers who coach the sessions. These trainers create a motivating, positive environment and give plenty of personal attention as students sprint, roll, and lunge up and down the fairway of turf that runs through the middle of the gym and doubles as a mini-golf course with live human obstacles on the weekend.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, was founded more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. Tots as young as 6 weeks can take a month or two of weekly classes, all designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. One-hour Waddlers sessions for babies and parents introduce tots aged 14–22 months to mobility, agility, and social skills as they build block towers and participate in puppet shows. Other classes include Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, as well as Mighty Mites and Whiz Kids, classes for more independently mobile children aimed at mastering motor skills to build strength, balance, and agility.
For older kids, independent gym classes such as Champions and Cardionastics build self-esteem, fitness skills, and muscles for future speed-texting showdowns. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to develop youngsters' strength while stimulating their giggle-plexes—carving out a place for creativity and face-to-face engagement in the face of technological temptations and giant robotic faces.
Eric Moss can identify with his clients, because he too went through a transformation using a 12-week program to achieve the ripped physique that he maintains to this day. Along with Jill—who is affectionately dubbed The “Jill” Sergeant—he leads group boot-camp and personal-training sessions that focus on the StrongFirst method of physical fitness. This unique approach uses kettlebell and body-weight exercises to help clients achieve their optimal strength levels while also working to help shed pounds and burn fat.