A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
The martial-arts masters at AKKA Karate USA specialize in kenpo karate, a unique form that builds muscle tone and reflexes in order to use the body’s natural weapons—hands and feet—for self-defense. In addition to kenpo, they also lead classes focused on MMA, tai chi, and weapons training. Often, AKKA holds special events such as tournaments and sparring seminars. In addition to learning self-defense techniques, students also build valuable life skills such as an appreciation for fitness, discipline, and self-confidence.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
The spirited teachers at Casa De Fitness inspire students of all levels to break a sweat in fun exercise classes, earning a shout-out from The Chieftain. After training with the studio’s owner, AFAA-certified fitness instructor Cristina Martinez, each workout coach brims with choreography expertise and the ability to imitate locomotive whistles. Sixty-minute Zumba classes shower participants with South American rhythms and easy-to-follow moves inspired by break dancing, belly dancing, and Latin dancing. Instead of scaring off calories with spectral pipe-organ recitals, boot camp’s certified personal trainers pair intervals of cardio activity with muscle-building moves that are thought to help to boost metabolism. Pilates bolsters spine-supporting muscles in the neck, the abs, and the hips, and Hatha yoga’s tranquil poses help students to build flexibility with more grace than a pirouetting elephant.