Having studied ballet, tap dance, and Greek folk dance in her youth, Maria Kyriakakis has cultivated a lifelong fervor for world music, movement, and fitness. When she discovered Zumba—which combines her passions into a single, energetic workout—she was immediately hooked and board-stomped her way into a certification.
Meanwhile, her future husband Pedro Concalves—a dancer trained at London Contemporary Dance School—had moved to New York to study Eagle Claw kung fu, becoming one of only six people in the world to receive certification from Grandmaster Leung Shum. Today, the espoused duo leads dance and martial-arts training sessions in a studio that looks for all the world like the setting for Neo and Morpheus' first fight in The Matrix. Inside, under a vaulted ceiling, a team of instructors holds Zumba dance-fitness classes, tribal-fusion belly-dance classes, and Northern Shaolin–style Eagle Claw kung fu classes.
Like any factory, NJ Fitness Factory demands hard work. Unlike other factories, though, the fitness studio features the supportive and encouraging words of co-owners Marc Ronches and Russ Teitsma. Their voices can be heard during one-on-one personal training sessions as well as small group training sessions. To help soothe muscles after the calorie-burning workouts, the studio offers massage therapy.
Inside Boone Studio, exercisers follow the lead of energetic instructors as they bend, bob, and stretch their way to stronger, more flexible physiques. During barre workouts, participants alternate exercises that build long, lean muscles with the help of body weight, weighted gloves, and resistance bands. These workouts can also take place in a room heated to 85 degrees, which helps loosen muscles, flush systems, and improve the deep isometrics and contractions of each session. The ballet barre also plays an important role in many of Boone’s other classes, helping yoga and Pilates students emphasize alignment as they bend, breathe, and grind their skateboards.
Speed Weight Training Fitness Center's Michael Johnson and Paul Davis’s resumes are just as impressive as their muscles. They certainly didn’t come by their chiseled physiques over night: Johnson put in 33 years of Army service—as an Army drill sergeant and front-line soldier—and boasts a quarter century of law enforcement experience, and Davis is a decorated police deputy chief and champion bodybuilder. Drawing from their fitness-heavy backgrounds, they developed their Speed Weight Training technique in 2001, motivating students to simultaneously burn fat while building muscle through a fast-paced workout regimen.
During high-intensity boot camps for adults, Sgt. Major Johnson pushes students toward fitness and reduced waistlines with positive encouragement, never intimidating them with threats of latrine duty. The trainers work with the needs and goals of each client during personal-training sessions, measuring their potential through body-fat, endurance, and strength tests, whose results they use to draft a nutrition and exercise regimen.
Sifu Ron LePree helps students of all levels learn to defend themselves with the Chinese martial art of wing chun kung fu. He trained in the United States, Germany, and Hong Kong, studying under the son of Grandmaster Ip Man—a notable wing chun instructor who taught Bruce Lee—as well as other experts in the field. In his classes, LePree teaches the fundamental tenets and moves of wing chun kung fu. He believes that a strong foundation is vital and builds on that structure during each class, introducing students to drills and interactions with an emphasis on mindfulness and concentration.
At Evolution Fitness, NASM-certified personal trainers and former college athletes Desiree McGhie and Anthony Lambo help clients exceed their personal fitness goals and build healthy self-confidence with one-on-one training and group classes. Boot camps help students build functional strength and burn calories through cross-training techniques, flexibility exercises, and core workouts. And specialized courses and events—such as cooking classes and lunchtime corporate workout packages—help them integrate healthy choices into their everyday lives instead of relying on fad diets and inflatable muscle suits to make them look good. A safe environment, direction, motivation, and intense workouts help customers see results quickly.
BFF Boot Camp blends the high-energy atmosphere of a gym with the support system and nutrition advice of a weight-loss center. The certified personal trainers motivate fitness-seekers of all levels with positive reinforcement. They stage monthly weight-loss contests to celebrate achievement and fuel a healthy competitive spirit in their students, and write up detailed fitness reports every six weeks that outline workout results, areas of improvement, and frozen-meat-slab-punching speeds. Even their indoor air-conditioned gymnastics-style facility is supportive, outfitted with cushioned floors to reduce the joint stress of already low-impact boot-camp workouts. To further help their clients reach their fitness goals, they offer group personal training and nutrition counseling.