As twilight approaches, Mary Beth Nishime can hardly sit still. Her inner party animal is purring, and its insatiable hunger can only be quelled with a hearty helping of beats, moves, and action. Fortunately, Zumba provides all three, plus the joyful atmosphere common to Latin salsa and merengue. So Mary Beth and her crew move the party to local churches, schools, and senior centers, where students of all fitness levels melt calories and stress with each chest pop and hip swivel. A team of teachers leads many of the church-based classes, filling the room with more energy than a newborn quasar. And to help students vary workouts, Mary Beth also hosts boot camps, yoga classes, and kickboxing sessions at her dojo, Nishime Family Karate.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Focusing on delivering results, the trainers at Canyon Fitness Studio work closely with their clients to meet their goals, whether they're training for a sport, recovering from an injury, or just hoping to shed a few pounds. With more than 15 years of experience between them, Markeeta and Jimmy Canyon lead boot-camp classes they've designed to deliver visible results, mixing up workouts with functional exercises, core-strengthening, and holding a burrito at the end of a fishing pole. The trainers also work one-on-one at their clients behest, designing a personalized program to meet the needs of each individual.
Since opening in 2003, Fusion MMA Cincinnati has participated in more than 75 mixed-martial-arts, kickboxing, and grappling events, transforming a number of its students into champions in those fields. But for individuals just looking to get fit and not necessarily to compete or stand up to an arrogant Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot, the facility offers several classes open to people of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels. As heavy bags sway from the ceiling's exposed metal beams, instructors lead group sessions of Fusion MMA, which incorporates techniques from muay thai, kickboxing, and Brazilian jujitsu into one well-rounded workout. Fusion Fit, meanwhile, features a constantly evolving set of exercises, many of which incorporate functional movements and work with equipment.
To program director William Brashear and his team of teachers, yoga is a spiritual journey that begins within while a person is creating a bond with humanity. They inspire students of all ability levels to seek this inner peace in their classes, which cover a variety of styles. Options range from Mysore—a meditation-focused discipline—to power yoga—a vigorous Vinyasa-based course—to gentle yoga—a slower-paced rehabilitative class. To zero in on students' specific areas of concern, they lead one-on-one sessions, helping them master their techniques and learn Sanskrit words such as, "asana" which means "pose," or more commonly, "Can you please help me? My leg is stuck behind my head."
In addition to yoga, the school provides healing services, including Ayurvedic Thai yoga massage, in which a trained practitioner gently pulls arms and legs and twists torsos and shoulders in an effort to loosen the muscles and release stress. It also hosts yoga- and meditation-centric events and organizes calming retreats to locales such as Leeland Valley.
At PRO Martial Arts, students of all ages learn the Korean arts of tae kwon do, hapkido, and tang soo do. The instructors guide students from white belt to black belt, helping them with age-appropriate goals such as cultivating scholastic excellence, burning off extra weight, or gaining the leg strength to beat schoolyard rivals at double dutch.
But PRO Martial Arts isn’t only focused on martial arts. It also torches calories in Zumba fitness classes, which use fast-paced dance moves set to Latin beats to tone cores and shed pounds. And cardio kickboxing classes focus on the fitness aspect of martial arts to slim down bodies.
In addition to offering its clientele increased athletic prowess with combat and fitness classes, PRO Martial Arts offers its youngest students invaluable knowledge about issues such as bullies or predators. It has classes that cover topics ranging from how to ask for help from adults and deal with cyberbullying to tips on recognizing strangers and their bad behavior.