In 2001, Carrie Rezabek Dorr's only venue for her Pure Barre workouts—a blend of dance, Pilates, and strengthening stretches—was the basement of an office building. Crowds drawn by Carrie's choreographing expertise and the infectious music of her routines necessitated expansion, however, and eight years later, Pure Barre spread its franchises to what is now more than 160 locations across the country, spurred by mentions in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Health magazines.
Pure Barre guides students through precise isometric movements that craft lean, not bulky, muscles. By flowing through scalable maneuvers that balance limbs against a ballet barre, physiques can lift and tighten traditional problem areas such as the thighs, abs, seat, and arms. The total-body workout is accessible to all fitness levels, and can help new mothers to regain their desired shape without leading the daycare's piggyback carpool. High-energy, intimate classes with small amounts of attendees ensure personalized adjustments and tips, allowing each guest to derive the deepest possible burn from the workout's alternating strength and stretch drills. Pure Barre also offers private barre-ties, DVDs, equipment, designer exercise apparel, and more.
More akin to a small, self-contained town than a fitness center, each of Spectrum Fitness’s seven locations kowtows to packed schedules and multitasking parents. A slew of classes arranges social body blasting—customers can tone their torsos with squats, presses, and curls in a BodyPump barbell class or sweat in spinning classes atop a stationary bike equipped with pursuit-style handlebars, adjustable resistance, and a front-mounted E.T. Members of Spectrum Fitness can swing by its Central location and trot on the treadmill until dawn. They can drop off their tykes at the childcare center and take a yoga or kickboxing class. And they can follow a swim by basking in the bronzing light of the tanning bed before sauntering up to the Pro Shop for smoothies.
The staff takes great pains to accommodate newcomers of all ages, levels, and car-stacking abilities. Personal trainers concoct customized fitness regimens during solo and group training sessions, and Silver Sneakers and water aerobics classes bring seniors into the fitness fold.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their child’s development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable visitors to fortify their physical well-being with a cornucopia of advanced fitness equipment and certified personal trainers. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man or one of his many secretaries tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength-training gear or top-of-the-line cardio machines, which feature televisions and other media diversions. A friendly, unintimidating atmosphere provides a refreshing change of pace from aloof gym employees and ear-splitting pump-up jams. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling.
More than just a fitness studio, The Vertical Barre and its cadre of certified trainers help clients discover their bodies’ potential by transforming limbs and building strength through fluid motion. Suited for every skill level, the studio’s pole-dancing and pole-fitness classes get students off the ground and into the air, covering everything from basic grips to higher-level inverted spins that target specific physical goals such as flexibility or weight loss. Co-ed and single-sex classes are available, as are personal training sessions. The Vertical Barre also dusts off its poles for private celebrations such as bachelorette parties and birthdays for groups of six to 20.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.