CrossFit Body-Mechanic’s coach Casey Schmidt—who placed among the top 21% of athletes at the 2012 CrossFit Games Open—blasts away body fat with what he calls “the sport of fitness.” He and his students compete against their own best times, heaviest weights, and highest number of reps to become leaner, meaner functional athletes.
Staffed by a certified team of yoga-teaching women—some of whom have racked up more than 700 teaching hours—Asana carves out a serene space where people can refuel energy reserves. Students from every skill level downward dog into a variety of classes that cycle between Vinyasa and hot flow to stimulate circulation, feeding muscles with oxygen, or guided meditation that unwinds tendons in classes that focus on relieving stress with meditation. Expectant mothers wind limbs around baby bumps in prenatal sessions, and classes for kids aged 5–10 initiate little ones with stretching exercises, focused breathing, singing, and games. The studio itself reflects inner peace as beams of natural light amble through sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains and soothing music gives patrons back massages.
CrossFit 428's dedicated trainers, Ricky, Hope and Jethrie, strive to help clients of all shapes and sizes—from stay-at-home moms to competitive athletes—achieve their personal fitness goals through dynamic workouts. Unlike other weight-lifting or cardio exercises, the CrossFit method builds strength using functional movements people perform on a daily basis, such as squatting, reaching, and running away from the guy who's running away from the cops. During the one-hour workouts, participants work to perfect 10 areas of physical skill, which include cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, power, and agility. The staff also provides nutritional guidance to augment the process of becoming fitter.
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. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. 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.
Far from being an artist possessed, Patty Sisco derives the same benefit from painting as she does from a long bubble bath. "All you are thinking about is your brushstrokes, not your bills," she told the Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch, speaking to the therapeutic value of her classes at Sketch and Sip. These sessions supply students of all backgrounds—including those who have never before lifted a brush—with canvas, tools, and a step-by-step demonstration on how to create their own vibrant masterpieces. As they work, Patty encourages her guests to imbibe drinks they've brought from home and plays serene music to prompt creative flow. She moves throughout the room to offer tips on technique and helps with corrections in case students’ hands slip or they change their minds about adding a goatee to their horse portrait.
Though the classes, which have been featured on NBC's Daytime, are responsible for much of the studio's reputation, Patty also plans other community craft events. Each week on Wacky Wine Glass Wednesday, visitors embellish cups with fetching colors and patterns, and a full-time potter teaches specialty ceramics lessons that result in handmade tableware. Artists can even customize an image for their friends or family to paint during private parties, teaching children to color in SpongeBob SquarePants and encouraging coworkers to bond by sketching each other's staplers.