The atmosphere is charged with energy at the Kinetic Cycling studio, where flat-screen TVs play music videos and surround-sound speakers blast upbeat tunes. Soft lights beam up from the floor, bathing the rows of students pedaling away on stationary bicycles in blue and purple. During classes, an energetic instructor sits atop a bike in front of students, guiding them through the challenging workouts while providing inspiration and motivation.
The first beads of sweat form on the cyclist's hairline, and he quickly wipes them away before leaning back down and gripping the bike’s handlebars. His feet move at an incredible speed, rapidly spinning the two wheels around an imaginary river bend and then struggling against the resistance of a simulated hill. At Blazing Saddles Indoor Cycling, spinners of all fitness levels pedal specially designed stationary bikes to the beat of a high-octane soundtrack. During 45- to 60-minute classes, participants build their strength and stamina while burning calories to whip into shape or train for an upcoming cycling race or penny farthing journey up to ye olde mill and back.
The Gym LA is a newly opened, 7,000-square-foot workout facility in West Los Angeles with a full range of cardio and strength-training equipment, machines with private TV screens, and complimentary towel service. Certified personal trainers offer one-on-one training, and friendly, experienced instructors teach small group classes, including Les Mills, Zumba, yoga, and spinning.
Most gyms don't limit their membership enrollment, which is why Meridian's Bodies in Motion does. By managing their member count, the workout areas are less crowded and visitors can step right up to machines without wasting precious calorie-burning minutes waiting in line. The staff can focus on keeping the facility clean and getting acquainted with clients, adding personal touches such as greeting members by name every time they enter and swipe their membership card, which means "hello" in several languages.
At each facility, a team of certified fitness instructors encourages exercise efforts during an array of group classes, including Zumba, spin, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and cross-training. The certified personal trainers devise customized workout routines and monitor exercisers' forms as they carve muscles lifting free weights and slim down on cardio and strength-training equipment from Icarian, Hammer Strength, Precor, and FreeMotion. Special features—such as racquetball courts, swimming pools, saunas, indoor basketball courts, boxing rings, childcare, and cuddly kitten pits—vary depending on location.
David Barton, dubbed "The Man Who Made Working Out Cool" by the New York Times, builds gyms that are as much about design as they are function. Walking into a David Barton Gym is like entering a dreamscape. The Collins location evokes a futuristic version of Atlantis: workout equipment appears to be at the bottom of the ocean beneath neon blue lighting and a wavy metallic ceiling, presided over by an imposing skeleton of an ancient sea creature chained to the wall. Where as the Astor Place location resembles an art museum, decked out in bold fuchsia lighting, Victorian-era furniture, damask wallpaper, and graffiti-style art work.
Though the décor varies from place to place, the focus on fitness does not. At each David Barton Gym, members can hit treadmills or lift weights. They can also work up a sweat in group fitness classes, which mix familiar workouts with more unusual offerings. After stretching and strengthening in yoga and Pilates, they can head to the Blood, Sweat, and Tears intensive, after which they'll receive a complimentary vial of the blood, sweat, and tears shed throughout the boot-camp-style sessions.
For more than three decades, locally owned Spectrum Athletic Clubs have aimed to create a resort-like experience for patrons with upscale perks and personalized care. After workouts, gym-goers can avail themselves of unlimited towel service and change in comfortable locker rooms. Other amenities include saunas, steam rooms, healthy cafes, specialized workout areas, and complimentary Internet access.
In addition, racquetball courts let athletes improve their game independently, and patrons can sweat solo on cardiovascular equipment with individual viewing screens. Group classes, more than 1,200 of which are held daily, include Zumba, Pilates, Body Combat, and CXWorx sessions and enable trainees to draw motivation from each other or from each exercise studio's complimentary tank of moxie. The Spectrum Kids Club gives kids a place to play while adults work out and hosts such events as pool parties and pizza parties throughout the year.