Vixen Fitness’s certified instructor Danielle Green was fed up with the lack of exercise programs designed to empower women. After a year of throwing private dance parties in her clients’ homes, Danielle realized that many women pursue fitness to feel desirable, which involves not only simple aesthetics, but also self-confidence. Her insights panned out. Today, her all-female fitness operation includes two studios where she and her team of sultry instructors help women unleash their inner Aphrodites. In a comfortable setting, women swivel into leaner bodies during pole-dancing and sensual-dance classes. When they’re not teaching lap dance and aerobic strip-tease classes, teachers help students carve out fitter frames with Zumba and yogalates—a hybrid of yoga and Pilates—and host the original bachelorette and girl’s night out parties that inspired the studio's beginning.
"When we teach—from babyhood—people to move well, they'll enjoy doing it, and they'll continue doing it." Such is the philosophy of Gymco president and co-founder Doreen Bolhuis, which she relayed to the New York Times in a 2010 video report. The importance of starting young kids on the road toward athleticism is something Bolhuis is passionate about, especially as a former elite-level gymnastics coach who's been teaching for more than 35 years. It's a concept she calls "physical literacy," and she's appeared on news outlets such as Today, CNN, and ABC News to discuss how young children's physical training and development is just as important as their mental growth. Along those lines, Bolhuis created the GymTrix line of DVDs to help parents develop babies' fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
And Bolhuis's enthusiasm for childhood fitness is apparent at Gymco, where her staff undergoes a four-step technical and philosophical certification protocol on sports development. She has transformed what began in 1980 as a few classes held in a barn behind a local retirement home into a 5-acre, 16,000-square-foot first location and a second, state-of-the-art facility on the north side of town.
When you walk into either site, you'll see kids scaling rock walls, doing back flips, and defying imaginary pirates as they walk the plank-like high beam, improving their physical skills in sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading classes. What aren't as obvious are the internal changes that begin to manifest, from improved self-confidence and perseverance to the gradual building of character. Fulfilling her start-them-early mission, Bolhuis also offers classes designed specifically for preschoolers and kindergartners.
Since 1976, the instructors at Dance Scene have been improving the dance-floor navigational skills of students ranging from beginners to seasoned pros—the latter being any professional dancers covered in black pepper and basil. In a private or group environment, teachers share the basic steps and advanced moves of ballroom and Latin styles. They also lead regular social dance parties that begin with a specialized lesson covering moves from styles such as the Argentine tango before diving into a free-form celebration of movement. In addition to their time spent at the studio, the Dance Scene team members can lend their services to offsite events.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure—the doctor who gave trainer Emeka Umeh this diagnosis unknowingly lit a fire beneath a patient already tired of his XXL-sized wardrobe. Emeka worked to overcome the unhealthy habits that had fallen into, completing hardcore workouts that eventually slimmed him down to a mere 10.3% body fat. With compassion for those in similar plights, Emeka now guides patrons of all fitness levels through intensive workouts designed to boost their metabolism and tone their musculature at Fit Body Boot Camp. Each session combines both cardio and strength training, drawing together innovative suspension training and battling ropes with primal strength-training techniques that hark back to when early humans first drove their Camaros out of the primordial soup. Over the course of camp, many patrons see slimmer physiques and beefed-up brawn emerge. In addition to leading boot campers, Emeka also offers personal-training services, conducts body assessments to chart his clients' progress, and outlines nutritional plans, pushing his patrons to live healthier lifestyles.
After Randy Woody lost his aunt and grandmother to diabetes and obesity, he became increasingly distressed about his own 320-pound frame. He began researching weight loss and strength training and set to work creating a healthier lifestyle for himself—all at the age of 13. Over the years he was able to whittle away 145 pounds, and eventually became a personal trainer, competitive bodybuilder, and member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He teamed up with Brenda Woody, a fitness trainer and motivational speaker, to start Michigan Women Boot Camp, a weight-loss program that has transformed the lives and bodies of more than 10,000 clients.
Six days a week, the indoor boot-camp sessions challenge students with a rotating lineup of light running, resistance training, obstacle courses, and core exercises. Like scaffolding that reads only transcendentalist literature, the environment is supportive, yet serious. The Woodys only expect campers to perform to their individual ability level, but they ask students to show up as often as five times a week to get real results. The approach must be working; the Woodys boast that approximately 85% of their members are repeat visitors.