The marble-sculpted instructors at Gold’s Gym whittle weak bodies into hardened muscle masses with a schedule of classes for all experience levels. In bright, spacious rooms, fledgling health buffs can shake the dust off of rarely used muscles and strengthen exteriors until they're as awe-inspiring as an Edison on ice-skates.
As she watched the dancers of Canopy Studio Repertory Company twirl and flip using a long cord of aerial silks during their evening performance, Amy Powell knew she wanted to do the same. Less than a year after joining the studio and taking classes, she was asked to perform in one of the company's shows, drawing from former gymnastics training and a natural affinity for high-flying dance to hone her abilities. More than a decade later, she now helms Chattanooga Aerials, located inside Scenic City Dance Center, as the director and head instructor and passes on her skills on silks, slings, and trapezes to all levels of students and budding telephone-company workers under the high ceilings of Scenic City Dance Center.
Amy instills students with a solid aerial foundation while also working to advance abilities toward graceful dancing and strength conditioning. She starts exercises at the lowest possible height to assuage first-timers before teaching dancers to work in tandem, using each other's bodies to perform coordinated moves. She and her fellow teachers can pinpoint the root cause of many of their students' physical limitations and inhibitions and often revise the curriculum or help students with their fears directly, perhaps by doing floor work that translates to the air. Muscles that have grown accustomed to more traditional workouts awaken in each class, and Amy's Something New workshop challenges students further with hybridized methods including aerial yoga and outdoor sessions using trees as aerial gear. When not teaching, she and her staff frequently perform for the community in programs for the children's Creative Discovery Museum and for Nightfall, a downtown concert series.
In 2001, Carrie Rezabek Dorr's only venue for her Pure Barre workouts?a blend of dance, Pilates, and strengthening stretches?was the basement of an office building. Crowds drawn by Carrie's choreographing expertise and the infectious music of her routines necessitated expansion, however, and eight years later, Pure Barre spread its franchises to what is now more than 160 locations across the country, spurred by mentions in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Health magazines.
Pure Barre guides students through precise isometric movements that craft lean, not bulky, muscles. By flowing through scalable maneuvers that balance limbs against a ballet barre, physiques can lift and tighten traditional problem areas such as the thighs, abs, seat, and arms. The total-body workout is accessible to all fitness levels, and can help new mothers to regain their desired shape without leading the daycare's piggyback carpool. High-energy, intimate classes with small amounts of attendees ensure personalized adjustments and tips, allowing each guest to derive the deepest possible burn from the workout's alternating strength and stretch drills. Pure Barre also offers private barre-ties, DVDs, equipment, designer exercise apparel, and more.
Sports Barn's mammoth and diverse schedule of more than 120 weekly group classes leaves little room for excuses. Nationally certified instructors, including a former triathlete and a six-sigma black belt, teach just about every type of fitness class imaginable—from high-energy kickboxing and dance aerobics to mind-centering yoga and Pilates—for people of any experience level. Students challenge multiple muscle groups in high-intensity, low-impact CRCTBRKR (or Circuit Breaker) classes, which melt calories with strength training and compound-joint exercises. To further direct guests toward their weight-loss goals, an on-staff dietitian and attentive personal trainers devise personalized programs and custom-fitting donut-proof vests.
Among other amenities, the centers boast an indoor pool and two heated outdoor pools. Patrons can relax after their workouts in a hot tub or sauna, or book a soothing massage.
The coaching staff at D1—which is co-owned by professional athletes such as NFL player Peyton Manning, MLB player Chipper Jones, and NFL player Philip Rivers—refuses to discriminate between professional athletes and everyday exercisers. They scale the strength-and-cardio workouts of their group boot-camp classes and one-on-one intensive courses to individual abilities, bringing out the best in each student regardless of his or her workout history.
The typical D1 gym houses modern indoor turf fields with adjoining weight rooms, giving instructors the space to invent expansive obstacle courses that may require students to lift tires or tug 747s. In the boot-camp program, coaches meet with students one-on-one to discuss progress and find ways to improve. Each facility also houses a sports-therapy clinic, where expert therapists ease muscle injuries through rehabilitation programs and strength-restoring exercises.
Covered in jagged faces and colorful tape, the climbing spaces at Urban Rocks Gym challenge mountaineers of all skill levels. More than 100 top-rope and lead-climbing routes rise up to 35 feet, with both relaxed vertical paths and grip-testing overhangs. A separate kids' wall offers lower altitudes for aspiring climbers, bolstering their confidence once they reach the top. Topped by an amphitheater-like roof, the 3,000-square-foot top-out-bouldering area enables participants to live out their dream of becoming a stalactite with a 60-degree wall, overhanging arêtes, and a maximum height of 14 feet. Those returning to the gym will find that its routes are regularly recalibrated, with 15 new top-rope routes and 25 new boulder problems every week.