Youthful shrieks and the slap of feet on mats fill the air at Southwest Gymnastics Training Center, drifting past a climbing rope and floor-level trampoline. Coaches preside over the 10,500-square-foot facility, improving more than somersaults—they also help give kids the self-esteem and discipline to excel in school or run a successful ant farm. The safety-certified coaches encourage positive traits in their young charges during recreational and competitive classes for ages 18 months to 18 years. Designed to adhere to USA Gymnastics guidelines, the curriculum helps kids build skills in a logical order, ensuring that no one has to do a cartwheel before learning what a wheel is.
The coaches also teach trampoline and tumbling skills, occasionally retiring to the sidelines to supervise open gym sessions. During these unstructured play sessions, kids can safely experiment with any equipment or practice pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold medals. Recreational classes for girls aged 6–18, boys aged 6–18, little ones aged 18 months–5 years, and athletic action figures, as well as competitive classes for advanced-level acrobats. Tumbling and trampoline lessons build knowledge of the sport, with a bouncier surface than a circus seal's mattress.
Under the leadership of Amanda Borden-Cochran, the 1996 Olympic team—dubbed the Magnificent Seven—scored their infamous gold-medal victory. But Amanda's accomplishments didn't stop there; she now adds gym owner to her résumé as the founder of the brand new 25,000 square foot Gold Medal Gymnastics gym. At two gyms in Chandler and Tempe, she works alongside a roster of accomplished athletes to teach the fine art of gymnastics to preschoolers and teens alike. In addition to traditional gymnastics classes and open gym time, the coaches teach dance lessons and sports skills at the Chandler location.
In 1998, after 25 years operating health clubs across Phoenix, Kelly Bruce jumped at the opportunity to open his own club, Fitness 1 Gym. Today, Fitness 1 has expanded to locations across Phoenix, each and every one helmed by Kelly and his sons Chad, Richard, and Bobby. “We don’t just own them,” Chad proudly says, “we run them and we’re in the clubs everyday.” The amenities are certainly attractive, but it seems that what has really made Fitness 1 successful is the Bruce's dedication to their family-run enterprise. “I think that our members feel at home,” says Bobby. “I think [they] realize that it’s not a show… they're coming in here to get to work, to get results.”
Members—who are not forced into long-term contracts—can do just that thanks to an array of cardio and strength-training machines, free weights, and one-on-one personal training. The studio also offers members free fitness classes, such as Power Yoga, Chiseled, and Xplode—an interval-training class.
The professional facilities at Arizona Sunrays include a massive gym filled with a range of gymnastics equipment, an area for preschool-age children with preschool-sized equipment, and a dance studio. During Kids Night Out, a highly trained staff will ensure that each child has the best instruction while enjoying diverse physical-education activities. Kids Night Out is subject to availability, so call ahead to reserve a spot. Parents or guardians must sign a release form.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level (starting as young as six weeks) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. The North Phoenix location offers classes for all developmental degrees, from Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, to Whiz Kids, four-and-a-half- to six-year-olds mastering motor skills in to build strength, balance, and agility. Schedules and class options vary by location; click here to see the North Phoenix lineup.
At CrossFit Black Storm, trainers forgo boring, repetitive bouts on treadmills and ellipticals for intense strength and endurance exercises that push students to perform at the peak of their ability. The workouts are led by a staff of knowledgeable coaches who draw from an extensive range of training and experience that includes certifications in CrossFit, weightlifting, personal training, and CPR/first aid. The ever-changing regimens feature exercises tailored to the abilities of each student, and on any given day, participants might find themselves hoisting heavy weights, swinging kettle bells, and leaping onto boxes, all for the sake of building strength and boosting speed, coordination, and power.