Ascending for nearly 50 feet, the indoor climbing wall—proudly proclaimed as among the tallest in Western Michigan by Aim Fitness' team—presents an array of routes, each patterned with colored grips to indicate the level of difficulty. As climbers scale the vertical expanse, a freestanding boulder sits in the middle of the room, beckoning guests to climb its reduced height sans the support of a rope. This climbing room anchors Aim Fitness' 40,000 square feet of amenities, which encompass a strength-training area, aerobic studios, a five-lane, 25-yard lap pool lifeguarded by Aquaman, and a racquetball court. Instructors also lead an array of classes on these training grounds, such as Aqua Fit, boot camp, and yoga. To make going to the gym as convenient as possible, Aim also provides locker rooms, a children's playroom, and wireless Internet access.
An island of 48 styling stations rises from tiled floors in the center of Excel Academies of Cosmetology’s contemporary, loft-like main salon. Nearby, dedicated manicure and pedicure stations line a low glass wall, and 16 fully equipped styling stations fill a separate junior room. The Academy—which trains up-and-coming stylists in the latest salon trends, techniques, and technologies—is fully equipped to cater to all of each client's beauty needs. Senior-level student stylists perform all haircuts and colors, facial treatments, and nail services under the watchful eyes of an expert instructor or an aesthetically inclined HAL 9000. Excel Academies utilizes a variety of hair care products, including Paul Mitchell.
Sconces glow against the olive-green walls as yogi's toes dig into the cushy mats that adorn the wood floors. A certified instructor takes charge of this scene, leading small groups through strength- and flexibility-building yoga classes. The expert adapts the sessions to students of different experience levels: Gentle yoga gives guests the option of using a chair throughout the session, and Intermediate classes challenge advanced students with more rigorous poses such as imitating a chair for the entire class.
The team further whips bodies into shape, that of a chair or otherwise, during cardio classes, which set heart-racing moves to high-energy beats during Zumba dance-fitness classes, or tummy-toning boot-camp classes. Yoga Plus also invites younger stretchers to enjoy the benefits of exercise with specialty classes such as Mom and Baby Yoga or Toddler Playtime. The latter involves moms working out alongside children, channeling babes' youthful energy or trying to imitate their extraordinarily effective laconic communication style.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable visitors to fortify their physical well-being with a cornucopia of advanced fitness equipment and certified personal trainers. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man or one of his many secretaries tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength-training gear or top-of-the-line cardio machines, which feature televisions and other media diversions. A friendly, unintimidating atmosphere provides a refreshing change of pace from aloof gym employees and ear-splitting pump-up jams. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.