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.
Endurance Fitness molds muscles and deflates spare tires with 25 personal trainers and 9 gyms, which are open and running seven days a week. Clingy, co-dependant love handles can finally get the boot thanks to the latest fitness equipment, group exercise classes, and racquetball courts. The experienced personal trainers assess members’ fitness levels, placing them in either the ironman or mopman categories. Pale skin tents can get a camping glow without ever visiting a forest thanks to Endurance Fitness’s level-three tanning beds ($8). Relax in the steamy sauna or the bubbling whirlpool after a long evening of stair climbing, levitate to the smoothie bar to sip a protein shake or smoothie ($6), or browse the racks of muscle-building supplements available in-house. Endurance Fitness boasts clean locker rooms dotted with cleansing showers and fairy godmother–supervised childcare.
Slim and full of energy, Kathy Bartnick's present-day physique betrays no hint of her lifelong struggle with weight. Five years ago, she shed her excess pounds through exercise and proper nutrition, and today she works to teach others the same determination. She heads up a team of expert coaches, who lead students at all levels of fitness through energetic group workouts. They also give clients meal plans and nutritional tips, teaching them how to whip up a wholesome snack and differentiate between a healthy vegetable and a fire hydrant dressed in a carrot costume. In lively cycling classes, clients peddle away on advanced Star Trac bikes as upbeat music plays and a glimmering light show takes place before their eyes.
Novice calorie burners and ripped Michelangelo models alike can take advantage of Anytime Fitness’s one-month membership ($49), which equips bodies with enough treadmills, cycles, elliptical machines, and weights to make them fit enough to run a marathon inside of a swimming pool filled with mud. A personal training orientation familiarizes sheepish biceps with their new, confidence-boosting dumbbell friends. Highlight the results of this fat-frying and muscle-mass-magnifying program with one month of unlimited tanning ($20 value) to paint new, ripply physiques a brilliant shade of bronze. As an added bonus, this Groupon waives the $99 enrollment fee.
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.
National Heritage Academies helps provide tuition-free schooling for families in need and assists local school boards in constructing and maintaining charter schools. Since its founding in 1995, the academy has already assisted the continuing education of thousands of students, roughly the same number of cheerleaders needed to form an ancient Egyptian pyramid. Empathetic educators at schools such as Research Triangle Charter Academy and PreEminent Charter School–currently accepting applications–engender safe, respectful environments focused on attaining the exemplary test results synonymous with National Heritage schools, and have a strong commitment to hard work, citizenship, and personal responsibility. The uniform requirements at each school cultivate a sophisticated and status-free environment, with polo shirts from companies such as Lands' End keeping youngsters in classier garb than sewn-together issues of Vogue.