Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates in cardio routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
LKN Athletic Club facilities are lined with rows of indoor cycles and free weights, and quicken heart rates with cardio theaters packed with flat-screen TVs, treadmills, and ellipticals. Indoor basketball courts encourage sports-based workouts, and group and personal-fitness sessions sweat under the tutelage of nationally certified trainers. A curriculum of 14 classes features Body Attack and Body Combat courses from the Les Mills program and Silver Sneakers sessions for older adults. For a more relaxing trip to the gym, clients can lie down in a tanning bed to work on their outer glow or bolster resistance to solar flares.
Zumba Fitness' Jennifer El-Abbadi isn't just a Zumba exercise instructor; she's also one of the sport's greatest success stories. A mother of three, she's lost 90 pounds since first incorporating the workouts into her weekly routine in 2008. Inspired by this success, she became certified by the Zumba Instructor Network a year later, and has since launched several fitness-focused charity events, including a Zumbathon for breast-cancer awareness. Suitable for participants aged 13 and older, her standard Zumba sessions feature easy-to-follow moves inspired by Latin dances such as the salsa and merengue, creating high-octane workouts that torch calories and melt stress faster than a jacuzzi filled with chamomile tea.
The inspiring trainers at each MetaBody location lead troops of workouteers in results-oriented workouts several times weekly. Sweat sessions utilize a variety of exercises and disciplines to produce full-body results in a supportive environment, ideal for beginners and hard-core core-hardeners alike. During any class, motivational instructors will use the instinctual distrust of routine to their advantage. Begin a day of litigating with a refreshing early-morning boot-camp session, or wind down by burning evidence and pounds with a late-evening yoga class. Muscles are kept guessing with new and challenging moves during each session, so participants never fall into a boring, ineffective routine, such as regular teeth brushing. In addition to the fitness classes, students receive a success guide to help prepare for imminent pound loss, a nutrition guide, and a $100 gift certificate for individual coaching. Because the pass sets a 10-class cap at any given location, roving fitness mavens can further shake up their workout regimens by vetting a series of classes or instructors that work best for them.
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.
Bruno Melo, known internationally as Mestre Esquilo, which translates to Master Squirrel, is North Carolina's only capoeira master. At The International Capoeira School, Mestre Esquilo draws on his 24 years of practicing the Afro-Brazilian martial-art form that blends music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts. He's traveled to more than 20 countries for capoeira, and settled in North Carolina's to found the school in 2013. Pupils of all ages and backgrounds study the rich history of capoeira as they perform hypnotic combos and dance-like kicks to drumbeats and Brazilian rhythms. The dance side of things is more thoroughly explored in Brazilian Rhythms classes, where Glau Santana instructs students in twirls, shimmies, and shakes. All levels of dancers are welcome.