Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations offer cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Heather O'Neill is a renaissance woman. She started her career as a mathematician, and then developed a strong interest in fitness after becoming a mother. She made a complete career change, racking up certifications and innumerable hours of exercise experience, before becoming the owner of South Pointe Fitness Club. Today, Heather oversees a variety of fitness services ranging from personal training to group fitness classes such as yoga, kickboxing, cycling, Pilates, and just lying on your back and staring at the ceiling fan sessions.
After entering motherhood and leaving a career in social work, Jana Walker discovered Zumba. She was soon hooked on the dance-party vibe of the classes and, in 2010, became an instructor. Since then, she has branched out to a variety of fitness classes, including Total Body Conditioning and Gospel Guts and Glutes.
Over her 15 years as a fitness instructor, Ananda Shala's owner, Aimee Firor McBride developed a special passion for yoga and Pilates. Her love of the practice led her to India, and into the studios of renowned teachers such as Shiva Rea during her more than 500 hours of teacher studies. She draws upon this experience as she helms a coterie of certified instructors who lead groups through classes and workshops. On hardwood floors flooded with natural sunlight, instructors guide students through Prana Flow Vinyasa yoga for all levels, hot yoga in an 80- to 90-degree room, and meditation classes.
In addition to yoga, instructors also teach Pilates, including mat classes, sessions that integrate weights and strength training, and machines that help lengthen and strengthen muscles. During private sessions they help students work on individual needs or master a specific technique such as folding laundry with their feet. Corporate workshops help business people soothe their minds during stressful situation, and special events such as yoga parties and classes for kids and teens explore yoga in a fun environment.
CEO Peter Harvey believes that a quality gym staff must demonstrate more than technical expertise. "Service doesn't only mean showing someone how to do an arm curl," he says. Certified personal trainers develop workouts that zero in on each person?s specific goals, giving clients the skills to pole-vault over impassable plateaus. By steadfastly refusing to hand out fish in favor of putting on master classes in fishing, they help clients become self-sufficient, educating them on fundamentals.
During these one-on-one sessions, and in solo workouts, guests set calories ablaze atop rows of continually updated equipment. Treadmills, recumbent bikes, and strength-training tools line the walls.
Members can also drop in for as many group classes as they can muster. Inside a separate studio, stationary cycles whir in time with galvanizing music, kickboxing strikes arc through the air, and barbells rise with each BodyPump rep. For more meditative practices, Pilates sessions and several types of yoga enhance flexibility and focus.
The 13 dance instructors at this alternative fitness facility believe that staying healthy doesn't have to be boring. That's why they enthusiastically lead classes that help ladies slim their silhouettes with flirty dance routines and aerobatic moves performed while swirling around a pole or perched atop a chair. Their beginner courses set participants on the sultry road to fitness with basic moves, whereas their advanced courses set calories ablaze with gravity-defying techniques that also help gals reach the top of flagpoles without praying to George Washington. Beyond the classroom, the instructors host parties for ladies looking for a lively bachelorette party or girls' night out.