Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with yoga, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines.
Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Give them five days, and the team at Federal Hill Fitness will do their best to revamp your entire approach to exercise. That's the sweat-inducing premise behind 5 to Fit, one of the gym's signature group fitness camps. For the equivalent of a work week, trainers combine daily workouts with diet suggestions and once-a-day weigh-ins. But that's just one way Federal Hill Fitness helps exercisers meet their goal of finally moving that obelisk out of the living room. Group classes (such as spin and yoga), one-on-one training, and independent exercisers also spread across the gym's two levels. The space houses all the necessary fitness tools, from treadmills to TRX resistance equipment.
The coaches at CrossFit Towson are living proof that each WOD?workout of the day?can benefit anyone, regardless of his or her fitness goals. The staff includes a rower, a marathoner, lacrosse players, a football player, and a world-ranked kettlebell lifter, all of whom would perform the same movements if they participated in a class. So, too, would a housewife or a high school student. That's because CrossFit's exercises scale by intensity, not by form. Its weightlifts and cardio drills can be performed by students of all experience levels, and the shared workout?not to mention the instructors non-intimidating approach?can lead to a strong sense of camaraderie. CrossFit Towson schedules standard CrossFit classes in addition to open gym time, when guests can plan their own routines and target weak points such as the one pack on their six-pack that creaks.
If instead of attending galas, Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre joined a yoga class, the venue would probably look a lot like MV Fitness. Inside a Mount Vernon mansion, stationary cycles face floor-to-ceiling windows beneath a vintage chandelier that is warmly reflected in an ornately framed mirror hung above the fireplace. Enormous wooden french doors open onto rooms full of weight machines and cardio equipment, potted plants filling lungs with fresh oxygen as members get into shape. In between punching bags and wall-mounted weightlifting machines, pop art and stained-glass windows add to the antique space's genuine allure. As Baltimore magazine wrote in its Top Gyms of 2012 column, besides the personal trainers and drop-in group fitness classes, “you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier gym out there.”
Fitness guru Brandon Chasen, Sr. oversees four CrossFit facilities around the Baltimore area, including the new 6,000 sq. ft. CrossFit 695 facility. There, the team of coaches push exercisers through the functional exercises of CrossFit's intense workout of the day. That functionality paired with the support from the trainers and fellow exercisers make the workouts manageable for nearly anyone, including Batman when he's sick. That said, newcomers are encouraged to take the CrossFit Fundamentals class to learn proper lifting techniques.
In a story by Patch reporter Elizabeth Janney, owner David Sturman described Elkridge Athletic Club as "a friendly gym," stating that “no matter what your fitness level is or what your shape is, you feel comfortable here." The welcoming environment—together with high-energy classes and cutting-edge equipment—may be why voters named the health club as the best local gym in an Elkridge Patch poll.
Each initiation-fee-free, month-to-month membership includes access to the sauna and hot tub along with unlimited group classes. Guests dance to straightforward moves set to Latin beats in Zumba workouts, and combine cardio and mind-body techniques in Hour of Power classes. Members also receive a complimentary personal-training session to design a customized fitness plan or learn to make a black leather purse that looks just like a kettlebell.