"Tough, but doable." That's how ACE- and AFAA-certified trainer Tara Faye described her teaching style to GoRecess Playground in July 2012, nearly two months after becoming the sole owner of PNT Fitness. There, she and her staff lead high intensity and high energy classes such as Insane Kickbox Camp, Sweat Shop, and A Vicious Cycle, which uses Schwinn stationary bikes. For more communal workouts, they also host a monthly Workout & Wine class that allows exercisers to hang out with their classmates and bench-press barrels of wine after class, a feature that got the class a shout out as one of CBS New York's 6 Best Fitness Classes for a New Year's Resolution. And although PNT Fitness' group classes have received most of the press, the studio also offers personal training that includes nutrition counseling, toning, and agility training as part of a personalized training program.
Heavy bags the size of tree trunks hang from the ceiling of Urban Jungle’s indoor workout room. Along with the pull-up bars that stretch across the space like steely vines, they do the gym’s name justice and make for an effective—if sometimes grueling—workout. Brick walls and a spray-painted logo also contribute to the gym’s urban aesthetic, though students hardly have time to reflect on the decor as they advance through a series of pushups, dips, and pull-ups. The team of trainers designs each fitness program with functional muscle movements in mind, and each of their three-week boot-camp challenges draws on up to 1,000 of those dynamic motions to make every aspect of urban life easier, from sprinting after cabs to lifting them over traffic jams.
Trainers also prepare bodies for self-defense with martial-arts classes that extract the practical fitness elements from weapon- or hand-based fighting disciplines. Three different methods of the Atienza Family System—a Filipino martial art—teach students how to deal with multiple attackers, and cardio-kickboxing classes draw on the principles of muay thai kickboxing to strike fear into calories.
"I am on a quest to create super-humans out of mere mortals,” declares Justin Cotler, owner of Crossfit Dynamix. He doesn’t earn a living by simply painting capital s’s on unitards; instead, he helps athletes soar to new fitness plateaus inside a brick-lined gym filled with medicine balls, heavy ropes, and giant tires.
Backed by a staff of certified CrossFit coaches, he motivates clients to run faster during sprinting drills and add spring to their steps during challenging plyometrics. Olympic lifting moves such as rack jerks and push presses strengthen the upper body more effectively than hoisting one’s boss in the air to celebrate a raise. Bodyweight exercises performed on pull-up bars, gymnastics rings, and floor mats bolster strength, flexibility, and coordination. The workouts can be customized to many ages and fitness levels, including absolute beginners, elite athletes, senior citizens, and school-age children. To help clients melt stress while building long, lean muscles, the gym also offers yoga classes for all skill sets.
K2 Boxing Club's professional and IBF-rated trainers condition their students for healthy lifestyles and help them develop skills for bouts in the squared circle. They help hone fitness or sparring skills during one-on-one training sessions and group fitness classes, including their boot-camp sessions that merge interval and strength training. During fight-based fitness, guests can either jog while arguing with each other about Plato or participate in MMA classes that dive into the grappling strategies used by UFC fighters. The onsite boxing ring hosts sparring matches, during which any student can improve his or her skills against a real opponent rather than shadow boxers or borrowed art-museum sculptures. But it's not just about the physical skills students learn—the club's friendly family atmosphere aims to shoo away the intimidation factor from classes.
Tightan Gym empowers clients to reach fitness goals with two stories of cardio and resistance equipment, group fitness classes, and a 2,500-square-foot studio dedicated to MMA training, all of which aided the studio in earning the U.S. Commerce Association's Best of Queens 2011 and 2012 awards in fitness. With an emphasis on personal training, the gym guides clients past fitness stagnation and kick-starts new routines with trainers who pride themselves on remembering first names, stage names, and superhero aliases. Cardio equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals occupy an entire floor alongside weight machines and walls lined with dumbbells. Meanwhile, fighters square off in a full boxing ring and half cage to build the skills necessary for competing in MMA matches or dominating boardroom arguments, then unwind battered muscles at the onsite massage center.
For sensei Julio Rivera, fighting and fitness have always gone hand in hand. After winning a national bodybuilding title at 19, Rivera started to explore martial arts under the guidance of world champion Jack Krystek, eventually earning his black belts in both judo and jiu jitsu. He continues to share that passion for focused fitness at Omni Martial Arts, where he helps his students build muscle and mental focus while maintaining high moral standards. Judo teams master throws, leverage, and body positioning, while MMA classes integrate ground grappling with striking skills to build well-rounded fighters. And whether participants are adults or children, sensei Julio and his fellow instructors ensure they all leave the mat with the poise and strength of a genteel puma.