St. Louis Fitness Boot Camp's creator and head trainer, Johnny King, knows how hard it can be to start working out. Enormous corporate gyms seem designed to intimidate the new exerciser, and the workout genies trapped inside at-home DVDs can only offer motivation after they’ve been put in the player. That’s why he made it his mission to design an exercise program geared toward beginners, providing a low-stakes introduction to training and plenty of positive motivation.
He constructs easy-to-follow circuit training routines that alternate between working the lower body, core, and upper body, relying on the combination of exercises over time to whip bodies into peak shape. His small groups of trainees often encourage one another and help keep one other accountable to exerting their maximum effort during routines. Within the climate-controlled facility, exercisers shed sweat and pounds on spring-loaded floors that ease impact on joints. To supplement the workouts, he and the trainers provide nutritional counseling and even emotional counseling, gently reminding each student why they chose to start working out.
Though they are all licensed to lead group workouts, the instructors at ZPower Fitness feel more like party hosts. That's because their Zumba classes evoke the club rather then the gym—they combine modern, energetic music with dance moves that anyone can learn. Guests shimmy along to the beat during regular Zumba classes and incorporate maraca-like hand-weights into the choreography during Zumba Toning classes. For those who aren't in the dancing mood, the teachers offer R.I.P.P.E.D. classes that focus on building muscle. Owner Emily Cook-Willis, a certified personal trainer, can also schedule one-on-one sessions that target specific goals.
The Traveling Fitness Center trainers are nationally certified fitness gurus, ready to transform your home space (as long as it's located in the St. Louis County area) into an impromptu shape-up spot. They'll bring all the equipment (Bosu balls, step board, body balls, resistance bands, free weights) necessary to sculpt your physique into the taut, trim profile of a precisely licked ice-cream cone. Each session will last 45 minutes to an hour and will give you the guidance you need to take the first steps in a healthier direction. Two or three people can join in (space permitting), so buy extras and invite some flabby friends over.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Registered dietitian Abby Herrick takes a holistic approach to nutrition, meaning she's less concerned with how many calories her clients ingest and more concerned with their overall lifestyle. Her philosophy shapes the services at Your Wellness Element, which include weight loss programs, detoxes, and health coaching. Herrick, who is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer to boot, also schedules yoga classes and personal training sessions, which can be conducted in the client's home or hers.
At Z Total Body, trainers lead energizing and up-tempo workouts that help clients burn calories, lose weight, and sleep easy at night. Members select from a diverse menu of group fitness classes that range from traditional cardio and abdominal workouts to inventive classes that integrate trampolines, belly dance, or hula-hooping. Instructors also build brawn via interval resistance training and muscle-confusion classes and Wild Card Workouts, which blend cardio and muscle training with full-contact card games of Crazy Eights.