Over the course of a millennium and a half, the tradition of Shaolin Kung Fu has sojourned from the foot of Shaoshi Mountain to modern-day New York. The mindful martial art—equal parts meditation and physical training—crossed the ocean with Shi Guolin, a 34th-generation master of the art. He left his position as head coach at a Shaolin school in China to come to the States in 1992. Since opening his first school in New York, he founded four more branches in locations ranging from Port Washington to Flushing.
At each of these outposts, students can learn Shaolin kung-fu—a discipline that grew out of buddhism; traditional kung fu, which focuses more on physical stamina and strength; and Qigong, a form of wellness-building similar to yoga, developed in Shaolin monasteries. Even people who have never stepped foot in a dojo or formed an opinion about who would win in a fight between Bruce Lee and Kung Fu Panda can feel at home here. Trainers start at the beginning, and ease students in by practicing basic forms. They slowly introduce more techniques, weapon forms, and meditations into the training, all while transforming neophytes into steel-cut martial artists.
Since its founding 15 years ago, Synergy Fitness has advocated for wholesome lifestyle changes through rounded programs and guidance. Rather than setting their members adrift in a sea of befuddling equipment, their nationally certified lifestyle coaches equip them with the planning tools to forge healthy habits both during and beyond workouts. Their advice can cover exercise, nutrition, and endurance, emphasizing the importance of variety in any health regimen. They keep abreast of the abreast of the fitness world's most recent developments with mandatory classes in their areas of specialization—which include diet, yoga, and MMA.
On the gym floor, machines from Hammer Strength and Life Fitness whir along with limbs, and individual television screens on some machines threaten patrons with footage of their grade-school choir solos if they don't keep jogging. Group fitness classes at certain locations take advantage of indoor cycles and boot-camp drills to condition physiques, and MMA programs tutor muay thai, kickboxing, and jujitsu.
When professional golfer Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open in 2010, he became the first European in 40 years and the first Irishman in history to hoist the championship's trophy. Before teeing off in the Graeme McDowell Mini Golf Tournament, 72 contenders glean tips from McDowell himself on reading greens, pacing ground strokes, tweeting, and fist pumping without hurting the shoulder. After the 20-minute putting clinic, the tournament tests newfound knowledge while CNN International's Shane O'Donoghue emcees. Competitors who sport knickers or plaid pants earn an extra mulligan during play, and bagpipe tunes pervade the air to imbue the match with festive Irish flair. While mingling and refueling, golfers also sample the flavors of the Emerald Isle with themed refreshments. All guests receive either a photo opportunity with McDowell or a sip of Fanta from his U.S. Open trophy.
Armed with various facilities, group classes, and state-of-the-art equipment, 24 Hour Fitness molds amorphous adobe muscles into rock-solid flesh houses. Each location boasts cardio equipment, free weights, a steam room, and group exercise classes so social gym junkies can motivate each other. Group cycling sessions burn calories and increase energy levels, and Latin dance-influenced Zumba classes present a fun, dynamic way to slim meat suits. Before breaking a sweat, check the online schedules for upcoming times.
Most people are going to have different fitness goals, at least that's the theory behind Moxie NYC. Some train as athletes, others might want to lose weight after having a baby, and more still might need to rehabilitate from injuries. Victor Motta recognizes the diversity in his clients' objectives, which is why he keeps things personal. During one-on-one sessions, the certified trainer puts his clients through customized fitness regimens designed to render specific results, such as stronger boxing skills or more toned muscles. And like a photographer with a full-length mirror, Mr. Motta can count himself as a client. When not working with others, he trains as an amateur boxer and martial artist.