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.
Created by dancer and choreographer Carrie Rezabek, Pure Barre utilizes the ballet barre to dissolve fat and tone muscles throughout the body. In group classes, upbeat music ushers participants along as they perform intense, concentrated movements, which manifests a fit physical transformations as well as mental results similar to those garnered in zen practices such as yoga, meditation, and eating ice cream in a dark room.
The Jade Apple’s extensive lineup of instructors leads a schedule brimming with rejuvenating yoga and dance styles for all levels and interests. Classes include introspective restoration sessions, which buoy soothing postures with pillows, blankets, and a studio pumped full of helium, affording students time to reflect on the day. On early mornings, Rise to Shine jolts drowsy ligaments awake with classic Hatha asanas and periodic traffic updates, while hips twist in energetic belly dance classes. The studio also hosts events to promote participation in the ancient art such as a family workshop. There is also a boutique that accessorizes students' ever-expanding range of postures with goods ranging from yoga mats ($30) to Jade Apple T-shirts ($22).
Heal One World empowers people with the knowledge and techniques to help themselves. Through classes, the organization teaches people skills and natural, noninvasive treatments they can use to ameliorate illness and injury and prevent further ailments from arising. Most of these classes impart self-help techniques and are therefore not covered by insurance, so the organization provides them on a sliding scale. Its programs range from yoga and tai chi to acupuncture and Feldenkrais treatments, drawing from ancient, time-tested practices that have often been cast to the wayside by Western culture. Heal One World also maintains a database of care providers who help people from low-income backgrounds attain stability of mind and body.
Yet beyond the individual, Heal One World focuses on strengthening the community. On weekends, it organizes vegan potlucks and film screenings on green opportunities and charity projects, and every May it holds a film, music, and arts festival in order to raise awareness of pressing environmental issues and include the community in artistic endeavors.
The Sweat Shoppe has but one specialty: indoor cycling. With such a narrow niche, the certified spinning instructors are able to focus solely on helping patrons of all fitness levels pedal their way to stronger, leaner physiques. Inside the no-frills, no-fuss studio, exposed air ducts and heating pipes emit detoxifying temperatures during Sweat Cycle classes, where students are given the extra challenge of working through 75- to 80-degree heat while not melting one's handlebars. Those who aren't quite ready for the heat can spin their way to greater fitness in the Classic Cycle class, where temperatures are kept in the comfortable upper 60s.