African slaves in Brazil invented capoeira in the 1600’s to fight back against their oppressors. To keep the defensive art a secret, they masked their lessons as dance with clapping and singing. Over time, the forbidden martial art grew in popularity and became Brazil’s national sport. The Maculele Miami Brazilian Arts Institute promotes the practice of capoeira and healthy living through workshops and cultural performances. Mestre Fran began practicing capoeira at the age of 10, in São Paulo, Brazil. During his career, he has founded capoeira academies around the world, taught the sport to impoverished children, and performed capoeira to spread awareness of the fighting art. Husband and wife team, Professor Cavalo and Instructora Venus both began training in capoeira at age 16 and teach classes at the Institute. During classes they help students learn how to perform spinning kicks and flips that can help relieve stress, improve health, and give people a new way to take down dust bunnies.
Aventura Mixed Martial Arts goes about business as though its staff and students are one big family. The facility was built around a culture of fitness, performance, and endurance, and the idea that martial-arts training binds people together—like a family. That concept carries through to each of AMMA’s programs, including one program designed for kids as young as 3 years old. Aside from its training curriculum, the facility also offers group classes that are equal parts fun and challenging.
With a name that combines words meaning wholeness, life, and joy, Om'Echaye Wellness & Fitness Center welcomes clients searching for ways to look and feel their best through fitness classes and alternative health treatments. Classes range from Zumba to cycling. Yoga sessions derived from traditions including Iyengar, Kundalini, and Vinyasa soothe minds while building flexibility, and Pilates workouts build the core strength needed for holding up the earth while Atlas is on vacation.
The center also delves into the internal aspects of health and wellness with integrative living programs that run the gamut from dieting and detox to acupuncture and vibrational therapy. Spa services help clients look as good as they feel, aiding relaxation with massages or enhancing exteriors with facials and manicures. The center’s restaurant even helps guests stay on track by dishing up healthy fare made with fresh, natural ingredients, rather than serving preprocessed foods or meats from extinct animals.
In 1977, Maritza Detz ventured into the health-care industry. As a licensed practical nurse, she ameliorated injuries, softened the effects of trauma, and cemented her desire to help others live fuller lives. This career laid the groundwork for her next occupation as a certified Bikram-yoga instructor. Since 1988, she's been practicing Bikram Choudhury's 26-posture practice, helping students of all athletic abilities and fitness levels recovery from injuries, strengthen their bodies, and expel harmful toxins accumulated during family reunions.
Martin Joo and David Clarke have been fighters for a long time, and also have years of experience in mixed martial arts and fitness training. They decided to take their skills outside the cage by training other fighters to have the skill, fitness, and courage to follow in their footsteps. So they founded Omni Combat Fitness, where classes focus on a broad range of fighting styles as well as fitness techniques. Trainers might combine boxing and jiujitsu in a single class, or move from a plyometric workout to sparring in the ring to teaching the proper technique for launching tomatoes in a food fight.
Bisao CrossFit’s coaches bring an intense, constantly changing workout program, which was originally formulated for police forces and martial artists, to the masses, tweaking its combination of cardio and strength training for individual fitness levels. They adhere to a fitness philosophy that emphasizes broad, inclusive exercises and sheds the constraints of athletic specialties, such as focusing on one muscle group or only punching bags that punch you first. The trainers motivate patrons to heave medicine balls and speed through burpees or leap over hurdles and haul loaded sacks during dynamic workouts, which they post online each day. Beyond its day-to-day assistance during CrossFit classes, the staff offers seminars, trainer certification, and consultation services for athletic teams.
Established for more than 30 years, Olympia Gym is more than just a fitness facility with cutting-edge equipment and classes—it's home to family-oriented staffers who truly go out of their way to help others. Owners Delia and Peter Cicale have sought out new and innovative ways to get people into shape, such as Hoist Roc-It machines that adjust to users' movements, kids' karate classes, and Power Plate vibration training that enhances the ability to high-five a jackhammer operator. Their training services are performed by industry experts, including a kickboxing champion and second-degree blackbelt, and they employed Beto Perez as an instructor before he created the international dance-fitness sensation known as Zumba.
But beyond the gym's impressive list of credentials are real, compassionate people. In 1998, the Sun Sentinel documented that the Cicales and their generous aerobics and spinning students raised more than $3,000 in a single Labor Day for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. More recently, the couple hosted three annual events to support breast-cancer awareness. And an article in The Miami Herald reported on two staff members' cross-country bike journey to raise funds for and increase awareness about Parkinson's disease. The trip was planned by Roy Roden, who suffers from the neurodegenerative brain disorder and still works at the gym part time, and his wife Lynn, who is a personal trainer. Gaby Senior specializes in training people with illnesses or age-related concerns such as osteoporosis. Whatever your fitness and health struggles, the gym's down-to-earth crew is likely to understand them.