As a certified personal trainer and "marathon maniac," Empowered Personal Training Studio founder Emily Knudson often saw other runners performing cardio workouts without achieving the results they expected. She realized they were missing a key ingredient in their fitness regimen: strength training. Unlike cardio exercise, building muscles lets the body continue to burn calories hours after exercises end. That’s why her six-week boot camps mix body-weight and hand-weight exercises into cardiovascular routines and high-intensity Q&A sessions. Empowered’s team of trainers includes other competitive marathoners as well as a triathlon coach, a competitive female bodybuilder, and a former Army infantryman and combat medic. Their studio's intimate setting of weight machines, medicine balls, and cycles contrasts with the impersonal vibe of a traditional large gym full of blaring TVs and barking dogs.
At Romp n' Roll, children ages 3 months to six years participate in activities that encourage motor-skill development and creativity. Within the non-competitive and nurturing environment, experienced teachers lead classes in activities such as gymnastics, art, or music. Meanwhile, during open-gym sessions, children cavort across play equipment under parent supervision.
Former professional driver and expert instructor Randy Baker and his team have been guiding drivers toward greatness for more than 20 years; past pupils include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff and Ward Burton, and the shadowy pit mechanic known only as Racer X. At SpeedTech Auto Racing School, Randy combines a fleet of super-speedy rides—authentic, metal-bodied vehicles boasting 650-horsepower V-8 engines—with a serious emphasis on safety to prepare drivers for any mishap on the track. Gearheads, speed junkies, and people who still sleep in a racecar bed despite their adult children's protestations soak up Randy's knowledge during one of SpeedTech's many race programs, varying in length from 3 laps to more than 100. With the school's built-in HD video feeds, drivers can commemorate their laps or prove to the family car it's been cheating on them with the hotel's valet.
Students at Fast Track High Performance Driving School don't need to prove that they can parallel park—they're more concerned about taking a turn at more than 100 miles per hour. Most of them have never even felt the rumble of a 600-horsepower engine before. After plenty of safety debriefing from expert instructors, however, they usually are no longer intimidated by its purr. They'll then hop into the vibrant shell of an ARCA-style stock car, a former racing vehicle that's still capable of rocketing down the track at a blur-inducing speed of 165 miles per hour.
Since 1989, the school has been fulfilling speed-demon fantasies with its courses and ride alongs at racetracks throughout the country. The staff meets with everyday fans and aspiring competitors alike to cover racing protocol, safety, and appropriate postrace dance moves. Depending on the depth of their lesson, pupils might take the wheel during a four-car passing exercise or simply sit back in the passenger seat as a professional flies through three–five laps.