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 stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Invoke Yoga & Pilates sprang from a friendship that formed when Ali Staloch, a certified yoga teacher, took a class from Heather Liguore, a certified Pilates instructor. The two ladies were led to combine their talents and create a fitness haven where students can work their cores, enhance their flexibility, and cultivate inner peace within one building.
During hot-yoga classes, experienced teachers shepherd students through 26 ancient poses within 95-degree heat that works to loosen muscles, oust toxins, and scare off devious snowmen masquerading as yogis. In addition to guiding pupils through power-flow yoga and em-power yoga, they'll demonstrate basic poses and modifications in beginning yoga courses designed for rookie contortionists. On the other side of the coin, instructors fluent in Pilates lead sessions that incorporate mat-based isometric exercises and low-impact movements on Reformer machines, working to strengthen core muscles. The teacher, who may be Liguore herself, circulates through the room during group classes, sharing words of motivation and tips on form and alignment.
Snap Fitness 24-7, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its state-of-the-art facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneaker to treadmill or lift their first weight, personal coaches meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting a personalized fitness plan based on each client's strength, and cardio condition. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthy eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists.
As the owner and head coach behind Raising the Bar, Akua Floyd draws on more than 13 years total of experience in personal training and group fitness. He helps people meet their goals—from losing weight to building muscle—through high-interval circuit training, plyometrics, and calisthenics. He sees his approach as an alternative to mundane gym workouts, which typically involve activities such as alphabetizing the equipment manuals.
Greg Molkentin may have found inner peace through yoga and meditation, but that doesn't mean he likes to sit still. As the yogi behind Yoga With Greg, he shares his favorite yogic style - the flowing movements of vinyasa - with students throughout the week. Sometimes, he does this in a classroom, but, twice monthly, he also leads yoga-based hikes into local parks. He and his pupils climb the sandy dunes of Bakers Beach to catch glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge before mimicking the architectural marvel with their bodies. Alternatively, they find watery ocean vistas between the trees in Land's End park, where they let the asana flow like the waves.
And even on these outdoor excursions, a large part of Greg's practice remains focused on meditation. Beyond his 200-hour yoga teacher certification, he also has 15 years of meditation experience with eight years of retreat practice in Kyoto, Japan.
When Monica Wason moved to Salinas, she was in the midst of planning an addition to her family. Though she soon discovered that there were no prenatal health venues near her new home, she was undeterred. She decided that she'd simply open one herself, and founded Green Belly as a wellness center for fellow pregnant women. Soon, her clientele expanded to include postnatal and non-pregnant women as well as men, prompting Monica to broaden her efforts. She funneled her experiences as a nurse and massage therapist into pampering services, and hired a teaching staff to help lead yoga, Pilates, and belly-dancing sessions. Today, she continues to welcome guests from all walks of life into Green Belly's lime- and cream-colored rooms to fulfill their wellness needs. As sun beams through the studio's skylight and bay windows, her aestheticians work to brighten faces with Jadience skincare products. She exclusively stocks the spa with organic products, complementing the center's nature-inspired décor while also honoring the trees who taught her slow-breathing techniques.