Every month, the staff at Body Kinetics selects a member to honor. They summarize this member's workout program and results on a Member of the Month announcement, which describes the challenges that he or she has faced and includes notes from trainers. It also serves as a recurring reminder of the gyms' communal, encouraging approach to wellness.
This supportive vibe permeates all aspects of both Body Kinetics' clubs, from the dance-fueled Booty Beat routines in Novato to the outdoor cycling sessions at Mill Valley. In addition to yoga, Pilates, and body-sculpting fitness classes, each gym also hosts small-group and private training workouts. They complement their strength and cardio regimens with other wellness services, such as massage and nutrition consultations.
Mikyo Riggs began his martial arts training in 1990, instantly drawn to freestyle fighting before the world knew it as mixed martial arts. In his quest to become the best fighter he could, he studied boxing, muay thai, and enshin karate, and earned a black belt from Ralph Gracie in the grappling art of Gracie Jiu-jitsu. Eventually, though, he realized he didn't want to just use these techniques in the ring, he wanted to help others along the path he'd followed. So, he founded Marin Mixed Martial Arts in 2006.
Today, his school teaches students of all ages a wide range of martial arts—exactly the way Mikyo himself learned. Alongside Jiu-jitsu they teach muay thai kickboxing, kali stick fighting, wrestling, and a women-specific Jiu-jitsu and self-defense class. Yet no matter the class, the staff applies a simple, singular core value: 100% technique. They believe that more than strength or speed, practice always wins, so they encourage their students to bring discipline and focus to their training. Students have responded positively, voting the studio the Best Martial Arts School four times, most recently in the Pacific Sun's 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.
Sport Fencing Center has carried on fencing's centuries-old flame by instilling the sport's values within new generations of competitors. Students as young as five lunge and parry on the facility's nine fencing strips, each outfitted with electronic scoring machines. Co-owners Karen Ladenheim and Darwin Martos coach mechanics and strategy during instructional programs taught to students of all experiences and abilities. Novices start off in introductory courses, wherein they'll learn basics such as footwork and blade work while improving speed and mobility, while experts might work on advanced footwork, tournament preparation, and their ability to steal s'more marshmallows in the Competitive Program.
The Polk Street Gym is a boxing gym. It telegraphs its pugilistic philosophy to fitness by center-staging a large, full-size boxing ring just inside the sidewalk storefront windows that stretch from matted floor to lofted ceiling. Both aspiring sparers and everyday Joes, who only have thrown punches at dollar stealing vending machines, train like boxers. Members jump rope, run hills, hit bags, and shadowbox. These drills and exercises firm not just boxing skills, but also general cardio and strength capacity. With 29 classes to choose from, men and women, kids and adults find a fighter's heart in circuit training or boxing classes.
Dublin-bred, former Golden Gloves champion Simon Redmond leads a roster of trainers who are all current or past Golden Gloves champs, whose knuckles turn food, jaws, parking meters, and all they touch to gold. After immigrating to San Francisco in the mid-90s, Simon trained and fought for several years before opening a gym with a partner. At the start of 2010, Simon broke off on his own to open Polk Street Gym. He strives to whip people into shape through boxing, affirming his mission and his passion by writing that despite broken ribs, a broken nose, burst eardrums, and spilt blood, he has loved every minute of his boxing lifestyle.
Paul Wade, a Golden Gloves champion and experienced trainer, founded Third Street Boxing Gym in 2001 to pay homage to San Francisco's pugilistic past by training the city's next generation of great fighters. The facility's concrete walls, iron piping, and low ceilings host a family of aspiring amateurs and local professionals as they train in the authentic, old-school boxing gym’s two full-size rings or prepare for the ring with the gym’s speed bags, uppercut bags, heavy bags, treadmills or free weights.
Burgeoning boxers learn fundamentals such as hand wrapping, the basic stance, and simple punches during beginner classes, before taking newfound skills to group cardio boxing sessions—taught by current or former Golden Gloves champions—that put patrons through an intense, all-body workout in one hour. Four-week boxing boot camps put sweet science practitioners of all skill levels through a rigorous training regimen focused on cardiovascular exercises, strength training. After completing boxing boot camp, participants may feel equipped to tackle their first amateur bout during 3rd Street's Friday Night Fights events.
Fitness industry veteran Dulcinea Lee Hellings's goal is to bring a high-quality, effective exercise regimen to people who don't love big gyms or can't afford personal trainers. In 2004, she realized that mornings could be used for more than hitting the snooze button over and over for two hours, and founded Boot Camp "Morning Crunch!" to help fledgling exercisers whip into shape.
She designs her all-levels programs to be scream-free morning motivators⎯the first stop in her patrons' journey of daily accomplishments. The fast-paced, ever-changing circuit of strength and cardio exercises keeps bodies guessing and minds from becoming bored. Each of the boot camp's 12 outdoor locations has a different dedicated trainer who gets to know each student personally, remembering their names and memorizing any interesting freckle patterns. They complement their morning routines with a smattering of evening options for those who prefer to work out after the day's activities.