Inside the 1,300-square-foot training area of Estero Martial Arts & Fitness, experienced and certified instructors teach classes for children and adults. Their curriculums include mixed martial arts, martial-arts drills for children aged 3–6, kickboxing, and aikido. The facility also hosts a pro shop for equipment, as well as an observation area with seating for onlookers.
Classic meets modern at Finish Strong Martial Arts. Traditional hand-painted scrolls and a handwritten nafuda kake student roster board greet guests when they walk in, and the walls are hung with photos of past and current instructors. But the studio also has two professional-size karate rings, a spacious area for parents to watch and wait, locker rooms, and a pro shop. The MMA classes cover techniques such as aikido, judo and jujitsu, and karate.
The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.
Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.
Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.
Vertical enthusiasts test their anti-gravity gumption against Red Dragon’s 14'x14' climbing wall during open-climb sessions six days a week. Divided into three sections for beginner, intermediate, and advanced scrabblers, the multifaceted wall can introduce an element of danger to first dates or partnered physics study sessions. After an experienced instructor explains safety precautions and basic belaying techniques, each novice scaler straps into a rental harness before going aloft to explore myriad handholds and footholds. Alternatively, a 6'x16' roof section challenges more advanced grips, while bouldering courses and a wall-to-ceiling climbing rope help mix up routines for regular customers or easily bored spiders.
Yip Man, the Chinese grandmaster martial artist most famous for training Bruce Lee, instilled a legacy of instructional excellence in the students he taught in Hong Kong. This promise of expert training is what drew David Gallaher to the island city. Once there, he sought instruction from Yip Man's son, and even received certification by one of the elder's acolytes. Now, he shares his kung fu and jeet kun do expertise with students at his own training studio. Here, aspiring martial artists master martial arts techniques that instill balance, discipline, and self-confidence.
More than 1,000 cardio exercise machines stand at the ready in JABZ Health & Fitness's 18,000-square-foot workout warehouse. Alongside the hordes of gym standards, including treadmills, stair steppers, and elipticals, dwell stationary recumbent bicycles and iVibe Powerplates, which are touted for their ability to give exercisers a speedy, low-impact workout. Stationary bicycles populate the spin studio, which is also outfitted with a massive flatscreen TV and a bumping sound system. In addition to spinning classes, the trainers lead group iVibe Powerplate sessions, and experienced mixed martial artists helm action-packed MMA classes.