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From open until close, the energetic Zumba instructors at Fit You Studios lead groups through easy-to-follow dance moves in a judgment-free environment. The aerobic maneuvers synch up with Latin rhythms and other international tunes made by chart-topping artists and Grammy Award–winning cardiologists. For those who like to dance like their kids aren't watching, Fit You Studios also offers free childcare during each one-hour session. Sweat-soaked dancers can rehydrate with complimentary alkaline water, which aims to boost metabolism and neutralize acid in the blood stream.

8400-d fairview rd
Mint Hill,
North Carolina
US

Dianna Akar isn't the least bit intimidated by the fact that her clients all start at different fitness levels. On the contrary, she relishes the challenge, tailoring her programs to align with each of their goals. Akar is a certified personal trainer, using her experience to helm outdoor boot-camp sessions for both men and women that draw from yoga, aerobics, plyometrics, strength training, and chimney sweeping.

120 South Trade Street
Matthews,
NC
US

While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.

Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.

1898 Windsor Square Drive
Matthews,
NC
US

At Curves, exercisers of all fitness levels 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 machine-maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks, filling medicine balls with medicine, and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines account for different body weights and fitness levels to create resistance that matches one's abilities, which thereby decreases 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.

3555 Matthews Mint Hill Rd
Matthews,
NC
US

Equipment: Resistance bands, steps, hand weights, medicine balls, and stability balls
Students should bring: Water and mat (if you prefer to use your own mat)
Average class length: 60 minutes
Number of Staff: 1–5
Class location: Indoors only
Established: 2013
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Guests allowed: No
Parking: Parking lot

Q&A with Jennifer Loman, Owner

Exercise is challenging, and people frequently give up on their fitness routines. How do you keep clients motivated?
As a women's only studio, we tend to talk more so we become friends and support each other. I also send out a bi-weekly newsletter to keep everyone informed on nutrition, motivated to exercise, and updated on ongoing client challenges, such as the 30 day plank challenge for January.

What's the most radical physical transformation you've seen a client make?
One client lost 35 pounds in order to get approved for knee replacement surgery.

What is a typical session of your program or class like for a student?
We start with a warm up while everyone has some time to say hello to each other. I always start with core exercises (abs, obliques, lower back). I usually work opposing muscles so I use body weight or resistance bands to work the back and chest, quads and hams, arms, and inner and outer thighs. I always say the name of each exercise, tell you which muscles we are working and demo a Level 1, 2 and 3 skill set. I also like to incorporate a lot of balance moves to engage core. We end with stretching every major muscle group.

Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
During better weather, we will be doing some group outings such as hiking, biking, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. Also, I encourage teens to come attend class with mom!

1020 Crews Rd Suite L12
Matthews,
NC
US

In addition to conquering triathlons, Regina Gunn has put her athletic prowess to use transforming college-level football, tennis, and soccer athletes into optimum versions of themselves, earning herself a feature in July 2009’s issue of Shape magazine, according to staff. She eventually founded Gunn’s Fitness with Air Force Staff Sergeant Kevin Ardnt to bring her fitness expertise to the public. The duo draws from military conditioning techniques and athlete-level speed and strength-training programs, boiling these complex sciences down into one-hour sessions. They work in a vast facility lined with free weights, dumbbells, state-of-the-art strength machines, and giant exercise balls pilfered from the toy chests of Brobdingnagian toddlers.


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10800 Independence Pointe Pkwy.
Matthews,
NC
US