The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Stephanie Babines had to fight to open her pole-fitness studio. The battle pitted her First Amendment rights against zoning regulations, and was featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today when the ACLU took on the lawsuit to get her permit. Stephanie's passion for self-expression has not faded, and today she and her instructors teach dance- and cardio-workout classes six days a week to help ladies of every age and build express themselves and achieve a sense of empowerment.
It's no surprise that Stephanie is serious about her craft. She has trained under the same choreographers who have coached Beyonce, Rihanna, and Britney Spears, and holds certifications in Advanced Pole and Hoopnotica dance. Her studio boasts amenities such as a spa and a dressing room fully stocked with towels and cosmetics. When they aren't twirling from the studio’s five onsite poles, she and her team might be throwing private bachelorette parties or fantasy photo shoots.
“No makeup, no men, and no mirrors.” That was the unofficial motto of Curves’ original Texas location in 1992, and it’s no less true today: at nearly 10,000 clubs worldwide, women attack a 30-minute training circuit designed to burn calories and build strength through cardio and resistance workouts. After each minute on a piece of strength-training equipment—each built for feminine frames and designed to work opposing muscle groups with a single movement—exercisers move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to keep their heart from getting bored and falling asleep.
Structured workouts are hard to come by at 2 a.m.—except at VYGOR Fitness. The 24-hour gym’s automated Fitness on Request consoles store up to 45 unique workout videos, which can lead athletes through guided workouts to help them meet their fitness goals into the wee hours of the morning. During the day, patrons can work with human fitness experts during group classes in Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and cardio pump, which fuses jogging with pumping well water. More intimate I Inspire sessions, led by certified personal trainers, follow a more flexible curriculum and stay capped at 10 participants to ensure individualized attention.
For solo workouts, gym-goers can use cardio equipment such as Star Trac treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, or StairMaster steppers—ideal for training for on-foot trips to the moon. Alternatively, patrons can build muscle on a comprehensive array of weightlifting machinery. To complement workouts, the studio’s workshops—on topics ranging from nutrition and weight loss to specialty training areas—bolster fitness IQs.
At Lakevue Athletic Club, a staff of seasoned competitors breeds a love of fitness through tennis, group exercise classes, and personal training. Atop eight indoor courts and three outdoor courts, a fleet of tennis pros enacts lessons anchored in players' strengths. They specialize in QuickStart tennis, a recently minted method of play that emphasizes building the skills and confidence of child athletes without serving them trophy-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Within the walls of an 11,000-square-foot fitness center, personal trainer Kyle Waters shepherds clients through two downstairs cardio rooms with Star Trac treadmills and several weight rooms loaded with Cybex Eagle and Hammer Strength machines. Inside two studios upstairs, health gurus conduct classes in everything from yoga to step aerobics to kickboxing.