At Victory Fitness Center, members pump iron in the weight room and pedals on the stationary bikes before giving weary muscles respite in the whirlpool or sauna. Besides providing fitness coaching to keep everyone on the right track, the gym also provides an environment free of intimidation with men- and women-only workout areas. To supplement those workouts, the staff designs easy-to-follow weight-loss programs, and certified trainers lead group classes such as Zumba, boxing, and boot camp.
The encouraging shouts of Nathan Jordan and his band of fellow certified trainers echo off the bright-green walls of the Jackhammer Strength Training studio, overpowering the clatter of weights and the huff of exercisers. Pulling from their own unique styles and approaches to exercise, each of the three seasoned instructors lead boot camp and personal-training sessions, guiding students of all fitness levels as they grapple with free weights, kettlebells, and suspension straps. The trainers encourage healthy lifestyle beyond the studio by teaching students tricks for improving their diets, such as which low-calorie snacks are most filling, and which greens can make you punch through walls.
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.
Since their near-simultaneous invention in the 1930s, yoga and Pilates have been locked in the smiling ferocity of mortal frenemy combat, each vying for wellness superiority. Today's deal brings the two sides together and seals the pact with a massage. For $49, first-time clients get a two-class pass ($50) and one 60-minute Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) massage ($60) at Focused Fitness, a $110 total value.
Michele Mangione thought she might never dance again after a car wreck smashed her skull and fractured four fragile vertebrae. By practicing yoga, she regained her mobility and acquired a new passion: helping others find health and happiness through movement. To this end, she eagerly studied the mind-body connection, earning a PhD in the topic from Ohio State and an advanced teaching certification from the Yoga Alliance. Armed with extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and philosophy, she founded WiseWays, a studio that blends Hatha yoga with healing arts, such as tai chi, structural integration, and the Feldenkrais method of somatic education. Here, students of all skill levels build strong bodies, centered minds, and spirits as buoyant as the studio's suspended-wood floor. Yoga instruction takes place in one-on-one sessions and small-group classes, where pupils hone poses that gently unlock hips, shoulders, and safes filled with middle-school-era diary entries. As strength and flexibility increase, students progress to sun salutations that cultivate balance, focus, and a pervasive sense of calm.
After years toiling anonymously away in "big box" gyms, Greg Woods and professional bodybuilder Rich Lauro wanted to create a gym that felt a little less impersonal. Members get a keycard that lets them in at any time of the day or night, so they can work out on their own schedule. Personal trainers—three of who are competitive bodybuilders—work one-on-one with clients to headlock their goals, whether they'd like to lose weight or kick-start a career as a strongman and future governor. For a more communal fitscapade, instructors lead a host of fitness classes, including Zumba and Strongman and Strongwoman Saturdays—a boot camp that outfits bodies with rip-roaring muscles with squats, bench-presses, and sled work.
For guests who want to work out at their own pace, the gym stocks a staggering array of equipment. Guests buff up with the help of free weights, including Ader kettlebells and Intek dumbbells, or befriend Life Fitness and Hammer Strength strength-training machines to hedge their bets against the coming robot apocalypse. For a break from traditional workouts, members can get acquainted with functional fitness equipment, such as medicine balls and tires that weigh anywhere from 150–610 pounds.