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.
The gym can be an intimidating place for unexperienced exercisers, which is why Better Bodies introduced its Healthy Start training program. During the initial session, the staff uses a computer program called the Virtual Fitness Planner to reveal basic biometrics and calculate the likelihood of health risks such as type-2 diabetes. Once you're informed, you can take action by signing up for a personal-training session, attending a group-fitness class, or lifting on the fitness floor's Hammer Strength machines. For busy parents or particularly ripped nannies, Better Bodies also provides complimentary childcare services for members.
Mary Rider took her first Zumba class three years ago. A year later, she decided to become a licensed instructor so she could guide students through the Latin-inspired dance moves that helped her lose 75 pounds. She went on to found Move Your Body Fitness inside a 1,200-square-foot studio. Now, Mary and her instructors teach classes that range from Zumba to Yoga and Pilates.
If variety can spice up life in general, Inhale Exhale Studio's owner Hao Ly figures it's also a great way to keep exercising interesting. She, and her 20-plus teachers, leads a regimen of more than 50 group fitness classes held across all seven days of the week. Students might show up on Sunday and shape glutes in a barre-based fitness class or drop in on Monday to sweat during warm Vinyasa flow yoga lead by Hao herself. Other days feature similar options, as well as multiple forms of Pilates, boot camps, and even the occasional spinning class. To help fend off soreness and aches, Hao says the studio offers Thai bodywork, an assisted form of stretching with many similarities to yoga.
Equipment: Pilates Reformer apparatus, RealRyder bikes
Students should bring: hot yoga towel, bottle of water, yoga mat, spin shoes, hand towel
Average class length: 60-90 minutes
Number of Staff: 11?25
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Amanda sits cross-legged in a sun-soaked room, still amazed that, eight years ago, a love affair with yoga rocketed her through 200 hours of training and into the ownership of her own studio. She has an updated 1,500 sq. ft. space with 14 new classes including Turbokick, Full Body Blast, and more. During Zumba sessions, instructors lead a small group of exercisers—their hips undulating and limbs snaking during body-sculpting power workouts backed by Latin-inspired music. Barre classes fuse Pilates, yoga, and ballet techniques into a total-body workout, using a ballet barre along with resistance bands and light weights.
Amanda teaches alongside a troupe of passionate instructors. They help students of all experience levels find their groove, teaching more challenging moves to advanced pupils or modifications for those still learning to move in earth’s gravity.
Boleros Dance Club?s upbeat instructors keep classes loose and lively while teaching students the moves of ballroom, Latin, and swing. They also prep future brides and grooms for their first dance with lesson plans and host dance socials where everyone can mingle and exhibit their spanking new twinkle toes.