In his years as a New Orleans firefighter, professional MMA fighter, and certified personal trainer, Gino Ascani has gathered a wealth of ideas on how to build the ideal gym. At Nola Xtreme Fitness, Ascani leads private training sessions, spinning classes, TRX classes, and group fitness sessions while utilizing more than 7,000 square feet of equipment-lined space. The facility houses cardio equipment, treadmills, elliptical machines, and rowing machines along with free weights, kettlebells, weight machines, and a pile of porcelain toilets that can be thrown off the gym’s roof.
Krav maga is a functional self-defense regimen that's used by the Israeli Defense Forces, but anyone with an interest in self-defense can learn it. At Street Smarts Krav Maga, experienced instructors teach students how to defend themselves against strikes, chokes, grabs, and weapons. Street Smarts' other training programs are similarly based in functional fitness, including TRX suspension training, yoga, and heavy rope training.
For the instructors at Blacklist Martial Arts & Fitness, learning martial arts is just as much about building community leadership skills as it is about punching and kicking. Committing to this belief, they train students of all ages and experience levels in classes held from morning to night. These programs introduce the range of Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay Thai kickboxing, and submission wrestling techniques—the diversity of skills imparted ensures students don't also have to test which ones their in-laws know. For students 14 years and younger, the studio offers Skillz: a martial arts curriculum for children further attesting to the studio's ability to accommodate a variety of clients.
Blacklist's coaching team is helmed by Brazilian jiu jitsu black-belt Tim Credeur, whose dedication to his craft earned him the nickname "Crazy." He isn't the only dedicated one—all of Blacklist's instructors have competed in gi and no-gi jiu jitsu grappling events, and some in professional kickboxing and MMA tournaments. To instill their passion in students, they allow Blacklist's most experienced trainees to represent the gym at MMA events. They also empower top students to lead some of the studio's classes.
More akin to a small, self-contained town than a fitness center, each of Spectrum Fitness?s seven locations kowtows to packed schedules and multitasking parents. A slew of classes arranges social body blasting?customers can tone their torsos with squats, presses, and curls in a BodyPump barbell class or sweat in spinning classes atop a stationary bike equipped with pursuit-style handlebars, adjustable resistance, and a front-mounted E.T. Members of Spectrum Fitness can swing by its Central location and trot on the treadmill until dawn. They can drop off their tykes at the childcare center and take a yoga or kickboxing class. And they can follow a swim by basking in the bronzing light of the tanning bed before sauntering up to the Pro Shop for smoothies.
The staff takes great pains to accommodate newcomers of all ages, levels, and car-stacking abilities. Personal trainers concoct customized fitness regimens during solo and group training sessions, and Silver Sneakers and water aerobics classes bring seniors into the fitness fold.
Grand Master Tommy Cheng comes to New Orleans by way of Hong Kong and brings more than 60 years of martial-arts knowledge. At NOLA Kung Fu with Sifu Tommy, his specialty is kung fu with a strong tai-chi influence. The gym has four convenient locations, and each offers a flexible schedule of classes. Beginners can hone form, more advanced fighters can increase agility, and they all can more readily defend themselves against armed opponents or aggressive kangaroos.