When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
The team of massage therapists behind Bodies Kneaded have more than two decades of experience among them. They draw on that expertise to treat issues ranging from sports injuries to pains associated with pregnancy. In addition to custom-tailored massages, they relax visitors with skin-smoothing salt scrubs and mud wraps. Appointments are available at two locations—one in Glen Carbon, one in Granite City. At the Glen Carbon location, aestheticians also perform diamond microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and other skincare services.
At St Louis Hypnosis Clinic, hypnotherapist Brian S. Madrid believes hypnosis can help you achieve your goals. Certified by the American Hypnosis Association, Madrid also uses his bachelor's degree in nursing to assist clients who want to stop smoking, lose weight, or manage pain. In addition to private sessions, he runs group classes that focus on boosting relaxation.
Like the full range of muscles it challenges, Wellbridge Athletic Club & Spa affords a full range of experiences to a broad spectrum of visitors, from corporate coworkers to athletic kids. A 25-yard indoor lap pool hosts swimmers, who can dry off with towels in a full-amenity locker room. Group fitness classes challenge visitors to sweat through cycling, Pilates, and aqua Zumba. The latter gets swimming bodies boogying to the tune of energetic international and Latin rhythms. There are also more than 47 pieces of cardio equipment that allow visitors to work out independently, and some of the cardio machines have flat-screen TVs and satellite radio, which actually orbits you as you listen to it.
In order to offer their visitors ample guidance, Wellbridge Athletic Club & Spa staffs several personal trainers, who assist clients striving for a variety of goals, including weight loss and injury recovery. The facility’s free childcare allows parents to work out without the hassle of finding a sitter, and its spa allows those same parents to shed every last scintilla of stress during a relaxing massage.
Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
Having practiced since 1997, training under leaders in the field, and serving as the sole yoga instructor for the Kashi company in 2008, owner Brigette Niedringhaus opened Southtown Yoga with the goal of bringing a unique approach to the city yoga-studio concept. In doing so, Brigette built up a schedule replete with a variety of classes held in a warm and welcoming environment for students of all skill levels. The Riverfront Times recognized her efforts by naming Southtown Yoga its Best Yoga Studio in 2008. The staff that helped earned that award features 11 highly trained instructors who guide students through a series of poses during 45- to 90-minute group classes. Slow-paced Basics courses pave the way for Mixed Level sessions that expand on the fundamental concepts, and rooftop classes enable students to mix up the workout scenery, like lifting weights in a phone booth. Classes are available seven days a week, with some sessions beginning as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 7:30 p.m.