"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Tao Yoga & Tai-Chi founder Ilchi Lee. "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful, philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance.
CGI Holistic Fitness & Spa makes it their mission to engineer a world where everyone benefits from "healthy bodies, happy hearts, and peaceful minds." So far, the sprawling mecca of Eastern holistic-health philosophies, state-of-the art exercise equipment, and luxurious spa facilities has conquered 30,000 square feet. The venue features a gym full of cardio and weightlifting machines, as well as an air-purification system. The heated, competition-sized pool hosts aqua-aerobic classes, and the entire 25-yard body of water is pumped through a natural-element filtration system that reduces the need for chlorine in the water. Group fitness classes take place in the gym or in classrooms, ranging from high-energy dance aerobics to meditation-minded yoga classes.
In the spa, patrons relax in the heat of multiple kinds of saunas, some infused with salt, others heated with classic steam, and one constructed of Korean-imported Mec granite, a stone famed for its array of body-friendly minerals. Aromatherapy baths submerge all the senses in a mix of hot water and essential oils. Hot and cold soaking tubs assist members in recovering from injuries, cooling down after a particularly intense workout, or saving their pet snowmen from the ravages of summer.
Personal trainer Stephanie Rickert knows first-hand the difficulty of staying in shape amid a hectic lifestyle. At one time a gymnast, dancer, and competitive bodybuilder, Stephanie became a mother at age 27, gaining more than 50 lbs during her pregnancy—weight that she simply couldn't shed after giving birth. She instituted a new battle plan: a combination of rigid exercise—including spin, kickboxing, and weight training—and a personalized nutrition program. Finally, her efforts paid off, and she competed in an amateur bodybuilding contest once again.
Today, Stephanie—along with her own mother, a bodybuilder in her own right—helps others achieve their fitness goals at Destination Fitness, a fully equipped gym set within an open loft in a remodeled 100-year-old barn. Bootcamp sessions combine a variety of exercises to keep workouts fresh, and personal-training sessions customize exercise regimes to suit clients' unique goals. As in Stephanie's original transformation, trainers also provide nutritional guidance to help clients strengthen their weight-loss efforts without being tempted by delicious dumbbells.
The Spa at Glenpointe provides fitness and beauty services for all-over health and rejuvenation. The 26,000-square-foot gym is the happy house of individual exercise and personal-training options for members and their children. With more than 50 pieces of computerized cardiovascular equipment, weights, and a heated indoor pool, fitness routines of every variety can be raised and learn to heel at the facility. More than 58 group classes per week cater to interests from yoga to kickboxing, and personal training addresses the needs of exercise newbies and athletic veterans seeking individual attention. Three sessions allow participants to demystify fitness goals and the winding path toward them.
Doctor of Chiropractic Kenneth M. Ermann heads up a team of practitioners skilled at inspiring calm and realigning the body. Spinal adjustments keep the core of the skeletal system in balance to alleviate aches and other ailments, and massage sessions melt muscle knots, boost blood circulation, and un-cramp sore pointing fingers.
Though now spread over the United States with 83 locations, Crunch gym started in a basement-level aerobics studio in New York City. Despite the humble location, the gym's founders aspired to foster a workout environment that would keep members exercising through entertainment and not shouting from drill-sergeant-like trainers. Their idea was to host fitness classes with offbeat touches, including hip-hop aerobics featuring a live rapper and coed action wrestling.
Twenty five years later, Crunch gyms' fitness classes still stray from the beaten path. Body Web with TRX sessions suspend members from a pillar, where they complete gravity-defying maneuvers with help from strong resistance ropes. In Bosu Bootcamp, every exercise is completed on an apparatus that is part balance ball, part core board, and fully endorsed by circus seals nationwide.