When you walk into Mirror Image Fitness, you might wonder if you've accidentally wandered into a swanky living room. A far cry from the typical big-box gym atmosphere, the intimate fitness club welcomes guests with soft lamplight and a stone fireplace. The walls are decorated with framed artwork and black-and-white damask wallpaper, which, along with rich wood furniture, lends the space a cozy, home-like vibe. Walking in, you might find a DJ spinning tunes or a throng of members relaxing on the white leather sofas in the lounge area before a class or a personal-training session. Potted trees and plants flank the sun-drenched cardio machines, making the workout feel like a peaceful jog along a nature trail or through David Attenborough’s limousine.
The club is the brainchild of Derek Norman, who learned about discipline and motivation while going through training camp with the San Diego Chargers. Norman's fitness philosophy promotes the unique needs and goals of each member as well as the skills of his trainers, whose specialties range from yoga to boxing.
A triathlete since 2004, Brandon Hament knows cycling's physical rigors and benefits firsthand. At The Cycle Annex - the indoor cycling facility Brandon has run since 2007 - his crew of instructors imbue beginners with pedal-pumping confidence at introductory sessions during which pupils first familiarize themselves with their bike before hopping on and burning calories. For cycling students of all levels, Brandon's team lead more intensive workouts such as the Ultimate 90, a combination of core and strength training that segues into an hour of riding. An abdominal workout on yoga mats follows cycling during AB 20 sessions, while interval cycling gives way to running and stretching during brick workouts. In between exercises, guests can hydrate with complementary gulps of The Cycle Annex's oxygenated, filtered water.
On the second floor of a two-story office building sits Revolution Cycling Studio, a pedaling and yoga house in Eagle Rock. Sliding glass doors offer lovely views of trees and greenery, while hardworking riders inside are treated to either a 45-minute class for beginning riders on Saturday mornings or 60-minute sweat and burn sessions during the week. The Rev Tone and Ride class is very popular, and riders are urged to reserve a bike ahead of time. For those who want to lengthen muscles and gain flexibility, the studio also offers a lunchtime yoga class on Wednesdays taught by a trained Iyengar Yoga instructor. Best of all: the first class for potential riders is always free.
Each class at StudioFit is unique because each of the certified instructors choreographs an exercise routine set to a custom mix of heart-pumping music and lights. They welcome students of all fitness levels for spinning, cardio-kickboxing, and Zumba classes held within a spacious mirrored studio. In spinning classes, exercisers straddle stationary bikes as they pedal along to different resistances. In kickboxing, they make their ways through boxing techniques that fuel cardio workouts. In Zumba classes, dancers move to Latin-based rhythms and music, shaking their hips and performing cardiovascular dance moves more fun than the power-walking man.
At the helm of Equilibrium Fitness' studio is Annabelle Rosemurgy, an equestrian and former Olympic athlete whose performances required enough core strength to pull off a handstand atop her horse during competitions. In her studio, she helms a team of certified instructors that leads a host of amped up Pilates routines and RealRyder indoor cycling classes.
Fifty five-minute SPX Pilates classes initiate novices into the intense practice, designed to keep on incinerating calories hours after the sessions end. The studio’s bread and butter, however, are the SPX and Systeme Dynamique classes—variations on the Pilates method—that use circuit training to target extra weight in the hips and thighs and isolate muscle groups all over the body to sculpt, tone, burn fat, and increase flexibility. Even the studio's indoor cycling sessions target core muscles, strengthen the upper body, and torch calories, getting legs pumping on RealRyder bikes that allow riders to steer and lean, simulating the real cycling experience of avoiding potholes and the maneating Sarlaccs that live inside them.