A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
When Justin McMillian left the operating room after the second ACL surgery on his right knee, he wondered if his dream of becoming an all-American soccer player would become a reality. It took the inventive scheduling and can-do attitude of his childhood friend, Jared “Iggy” Embick, to pull through. The duo managed to launch McMillian not only to the all-American team, but to a professional soccer career. They never forgot that battle to recover from injury, and how smart training healed, conditioned, and inspired Justin. The same deliberate, motivational focus that took him from the sickbed to the soccer field inform the training programs at Elite FT.
All training sessions take place over six weeks, with 10 or more students meeting once a week for one hour. Coaches might call for rigorous plyometric conditioning exercises or teach sport-specific skills to soccer, football, and baseball players. Through teaching skills and conditioning bodies, the coaches aim to create confident, disciplined, and elite athletes whose skills transfer to their work ethic and other important areas of life, such as schoolwork or winning a game of Horse to snatch a promotion at work.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
Sunset Hills Community Center is home to 25,000 square feet of fitness and wellness facilities. Inside its 4,000-square-foot workout room, 20 cardio machines team up with strength-training machines, free weights, and kettlebells to whittle waistlines and carve chiseled physiques. Its expansive gymnasium metamorphoses into basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, and the sunlit multipurpose room resounds with the encouraging shouts of certified instructors as they lead an ever-changing mix of fitness classes, including Zumba, boot camp, and senior fitness.
In addition to group fitness classes, trainers lead individual or group training sessions and nutrition consultations to help patrons achieve their fitness goals. For youth fit seekers, the center hosts a summer hip-hop camp taught by the famed professional dancer and St. Louis–native Nick Gates, who teaches kids to serve even the smoothest of animated cat MCs. The center also sponsors a regular weight-loss challenge, in which competitors gain the tools to shed pounds while vying for cash prizes.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars two-time champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn up to 600 calories with each go-round.
Bryan designed his first CrossFit class when he was stationed in Afghanistan, using any equipment he could get his hands on: sandbags, weight volleyballs, steel rods. He enjoyed the challenge and the functional fitness aspects of CrossFit and saw the connection between the CrossFit mentality and the one he had during his 20 years of service in the army. Today, he and his fellow trainers lead students of all levels through intense CrossFit classes within his high-ceilinged, well-stocked facility, using climbing ropes, massive tires, and the camaraderie of a group.