Brent Insco had already roundhouse-kicked his way to a black belt in karate, trained with boxers, and learned krav maga when a car crash laid him low. As part of his physical therapy, he soldiered on in his martial endeavors and began the decade-long process of becoming a Brazilian jujitsu master. That was in 2004, and to this day he still makes frequent sojourns to San Diego to study under the BJJ legends, Saulo and Xande Ribeiro, who themselves learned the art at Gracie Humaitá, established by the creator of BJJ, Hélio Gracie. At his own studio, Downriver Jiu Jitsu & Fitness, Insco teaches students of all ages the fighting form—a judo-like discipline founded on the principle that a small fighter can best a larger opponent, as in the tale of David and Goliath or the popular children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, It Will Destroy You. Insco’s trainers also lead fitness classes, such as Latin-inspired Zumba dance, boot camp, yoga, and Bruce Lee’s martial-arts system, jeet kune do, and work with clients one on two in semi-personal-training sessions.
Fitness guru Lisa Nash, whose body-sculpting expertise has benefited clients from U.S. Marines to local doctors, leads fitness classes that privilege cardiovascular training and weight loss over hulking machines and protein powder. Athletes of all ages can shed pounds, shake the police, and increase heart health in more than a dozen motivating classes ranging from 50-minute cardio-kickboxing bouts to 90-minute total-body workouts. High-intensity cardio interval-training sessions incorporate Lisa’s experience breaking in military recruits and aspiring firefighters, and Gams, Butts & Guts tones and tightens the lower body with high-rep aerobics rather than saran-wrap pants. High-steppers, kickboxers, and ab toners wishing to enroll in Lisa’s classes must supply their own weights and mats.
Unlike regular warehouses, with their shelves of boxes and closets full of forklift bones, The Workout Warehouse fills its spaces with a different kind of inventory: lost pounds, new goals, and personal records. And, unlike most gyms, this facility strictly offers classes, creating a communal environment that encourages exercisers to rally around their health-oriented objectives, as well as each other. Through contract-free memberships and drop-in capabilities, guests gain access to multiple classes daily, including spin, boot camp, Zumba, and boxing. Extra inspiration is never too far, as the facility holds frequent contests that add a hint of competition to workout routines.
At Punch Kettlebell Gym, owner and certified fitness trainer Rob Santarossa leads a team of instructors who lead group and private exercise regimens and nutritional coaching to help each client achieve a slim physique and healthier lifestyle. Rob’s dedication to fitness stems from his own early weight-loss struggles, an experience that allows him to coach with empathy and enact appropriate levels of motivation. About 12–15 students partake in the group and boot-camp classes, which stress weight-and-cardio combinations using diverse exercises, each scalable to fit individual needs or allergies to jumping jacks. Kettlebells and other forms of resistance are added along the way to round out the focused 30-minute routines. To help maintain a healthy lifestyle, fitness seekers will also be equipped with online nutritional software, which helps lay out customized meal plans, charts nutritional progress, and shouts warnings of falling anvils.
Within the sunny, wood-floored studio, groups of exercisers tone muscles and liquidate fat cells to the tune of toe-tapping Latin and International rhythms. Helmed by Joel, a seasoned fitness instructor with 18 years of industry experience, Zumba classes trick your body into burning calories, setting it in motion with heart-pumping beats to elicit a mixture of high-energy movements and dance steps. A strong proponent for proactive lifestyles, Joel can also use his intimate knowledge of nutrition and exercise to help clients meet fitness goals such as losing weight or training to dig a hole to China with their bare hands.
Optimal results in a minimal time frame. That’s the goal of Nina—Sergeant Bootcamp himself. After a stint in the military, Nina returned to his true passion—fitness—and took up the reins at boot camp, where today he motivates clients of all fitness levels through indoor and outdoor workouts. Each 60-minute sweat session forgoes machinery and high-tech equipment for simple exercises, such as running, calisthenics, and weight training. Yet, Nina doesn’t let campers fall into any sort of routine; he changes up classes regularly to keep muscles guessing and clients from getting bored. Aimed at shredding body fat and toning physiques, each camp begins with a body-fat composition test so that clients can see their progress and achievements in numbers, rather than by whether or not they can fully conceal themselves behind a telephone pole.