As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Former gymnast and avid downhill skier Julie Ralston stumbled across CrossFit while searching for an exercise routine that would motivate her mind and push her body to the pinnacle of fitness. After achieving her CrossFit certification, attending countless seminars, and co-founding CrossFit StumpTown in Portland, Ralston developed a training technique suitable for customers of any body type, age, or level of ability. Her program offers increasingly challenging reps of lunges, sprints, throws, and lifts, backed up by the positive vibes and friendly support of a community of like-minded athletes. Visitors to the 4,700-square-foot gym won't find treadmills or weight machines, but kettlebells for swinging, pull-up bars for intense upper-body conditioning, and enough open space to halter-break a horse and train it to love CrossFit.
East Side and West Side Athletic Clubs offer pampering for all bodies, ages, and fitness types with facilities packed with swimming pools, racquetball courts, childcare centers, and cardio decks. Group fitness classes make use of the studio space and include high-energy Zumba or relaxing yoga, with water aerobics taking place in the indoor pool or the high-pressure showers. In addition to workout amenities, guests can take advantage of bountiful spa and relaxation services including massages, acupuncture, and a full-service hair salon. Each of the three locations has its own personality and offerings. See the full list for each location here.
From her days in the Navy to a love for yoga, Terri Chadney has always been into fitness. In 1994, she and her husband, Jay, opened West Coast Fitness to share that passion with her old neighborhood, which until then did not have a gym. "She wanted to reinvest in the neighborhood," Jay says. Here, the duo leads a staff of experienced trainers, who do everything from one-on-one training to group fitness classes such as yoga and spinning. As the yoga director, Terri requires that each yoga instructor have at least five years of teaching experience, thorough training, and a perfect letter B imitation. The rest of the staff boasts similar credentials, such as the Zumba instructor who has been dancing professionally for most of her life. And because they're not contractors, the trainers care about every aspect of the gym, not just making a sale. "They really invest themselves with the members," says Jay, "Our [trainers] come in, hang out, take classes, bring their dog."
For Jay and Terri, the most rewarding part of owning West Coast Fitness has been "seeing changes in the members," says Jay. He sees members who are in better shape than when they first joined 15 years ago—and Terri loves to see the seniors in her yoga classes up on their feet and doing strength-training exercises after coming in with crutches or walkers.
The St. John's location's spinning studio includes a 6-foot screen, sending riders on virtual trips via instructive DVDs even when a class isn't in session. Members can also log in to ActivTrax online or at the clubs' kiosks for custom workouts based on their goals and experience, as well as meal planning and progress tracking. The staff members engage parents' little ones with baby-sitting services in a colorful playroom. They have also stocked the gyms with tanning booths, and massage therapists help soothe stress and exercise-induced aches; the saunas and HydroMassage beds also help members unwind.
Bouldering differs from other forms of rock climbing in a variety of ways, such as its heightened social element. When top roping, for example, climbers are more isolated, relying on a partner below to maintain rope tension. But because bouldering is done on lower courses that don't require a rope or harness, climbers are free to scale walls at will, often resulting in people sharing walls and striking up conversations in between surmounting terrain such as verticals, slabs, and roof climbs—overhangs that put climbers' bodies parallel to the floor.
That's how The Circuit Bouldering Gym got started. Some bouldering enthusiasts crossed paths at a local gym and found they all wanted to expand Portland's bouldering options. Today, they welcome guests to surmount courses—including a hanging boulder—ranging from 8- to 17-feet high and surrounded by crash-pad flooring. Boasting one of the largest bouldering-only gyms in the world, they also designed many of their simulated climbing stations as top-out boulders, letting guests experience what it's like to stand atop a boulder in the Rockies or on the moon. Additionally, they instruct guests with programs such as 90-minute intro courses, advanced clinics with professional climber athletes, and programs tailored for kids including birthday parties. Between climbs, a lounge area lets visitors relax and swap tales of defying gravity's relentless bullying. To further build the bouldering community, the gym's team organizes an annual fundraiser benefiting local charities, including the Pump-a-thon, which is scheduled for February 22nd.