Within the aquatic wing of The Club at Oak Branch's upscale fitness center, trained coaches preside over gaggles of youngsters, who emit gleeful shrieks as they paddle with increasing confidence. Forty-five-minute youth classes are broken down into 30 minutes of liquid lessons followed by a 15-minute practice and free swim that flaunt the joys of watery pursuits like Jacques Cousteau's toy chest. Classes for pint-size aquanauts cover various skill levels, with Toddler 2's sessions that delight diminutive water bugs 18–36 months old in a 20-minute class conducted sans parent. Toddler 3's courses take on pupils who can swim to the instructor and back to the wall unassisted, and the all-comers Rainbow class forges fearless divers from firmly landlubbed beginners with absolutely no experience. Infants make Olympics-worthy swimming debuts at Tiny Splash, a child-and-parent group class for kiddos age 3 months and older.
After leaving his career as a player in the NFL, Sammy Johnson set out to build a fitness center that fused the upscale comfort of a country club with the approachability and wealth of amenities of a gym. He broke ground with his first center in 1982, in his wife’s hometown of Concord, NC, before collaborating with his high-school buddies to bring his business model to High Point, eventually creating a world-class gym with 12.5 acres of space, a European-style day spa, and plenty of happy members. Today, Sammy’s eldest son Sam manages the family business. The family oversees one of the largest fitness complexes on the East Coast, with a 75,000-square-foot flagship campus in High Point and a shiny new location in Greensboro. Each facility builds bodies into lithe, athletic forms with mountains of weight-training and cardio machinery, training and recreation pools, and classes in Zumba, BodyPump, yoga, and spin.
Zumba with Whitney’s head instructor Whitney Smith saw Zumba as a lotus blossoming from the seeds of her passion for dancing and cheer. As she describes it in her own words, “Dancing/Cheering have always been my passions, and Zumba has allowed me to continue something I love, while also losing weight and maintaining great physical condition, even after having a child.” Whitney has appeared on nationally ranked all-star cheering squads since the age of 12, in addition to her stints with the Greensboro Generals and Grasshoppers. Now, she leads 50-minute dance aerobic sessions from the artificial green of Proehlific Park’s indoor soccer field.
From one-on-one personal training to company-wide exercise outings, Traverse Trainer tailors workouts to meet every client’s needs. Outdoor group sessions, which meet three times per week, combine circuit training with plyometrics and core work, resulting 45 minutes of calorie-torching hard work. Personal training, meanwhile, not only involves completely customized routines but can also take place anywhere the client wants, including the office, the home, or the neighbor’s doghouse. And travelers who are in Greensboro for business or pleasure don't have to slack on their exercise regimen with outdoor workouts that take detours to area sights.
It's hard to get out rock climbing regularly. Basketball courts don't fit in the average home. The facilities at The Rush Fitness let everyone get in an exciting workout, though, with climbing walls, pools, athletic courts, and more. At 23 locations in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Dalton, Asheville, Greensboro, Winston Salem, High Point and Greenville, skilled trainers preside over those amenities. They also lead more than 500 group exercise classes, which might touch on everything from yoga to Zumba. Those classes, as well as the requisite array of free weights and cardio equipment, have helped the chain win a range of "best gym" awards.
At Free Spirits Yoga, owner Audrey Stephens and her staff help students get in touch with their minds, bodies, and souls. Stephens, an RYT 500-certified teacher, teaches the studio's meditative Road to Self yoga classes, which range from introductory Level 1 classes to more intensive three-hour workshops. The rest of the instructors schedule more traditional yoga classes. Those who want to immerse themselves even deeper in yoga should sign up for the 200-hour teacher's training program.