After fist-punching his way through the U.S. Army's basic training program, bobbing and weaving through an amateur boxing career, and drop-kicking every last test that stood between him as his law degree, the poet-warrior Edward Rush opened a commercial gym in Washington, DC. He soon grew tired of folding towels for patrons who only wanted to use his gym as a place to read magazines or watch TV while they jogged, so he closed up shop, moved to NYC, and opened a personal-training gym and fitness laboratory. There, he earned the nickname "The Mad Scientist" for his grueling, inventive, and rewarding training method, called IFS.
For a quick, intense workout, students can turn to the gym's CrossFit classes. CrossFit incorporates a fusion of strength and cardiovascular conditioning exercises that grant bodies with sculpting, toning, and endurance-boosting benefits in less than an hour. In fact, many members hustle through the retinue of handstand pushups and Olympic-style power cleans on their lunch hours via the gym's power lunch program, which includes a paleo-diet meal delivery when the workout is completed. Whether over lunch, early in the morning, or at the end of an office day, students can attend classes up to six days a week and retire to well appointed locker rooms equipped with showers, towel service, and complimentary grooming products.
World Martial Arts Center isn’t just a gym where individuals can improve their muscle tone or fine-tune their roundhouse kick—it’s a refuge designed to help clients build both inner and outer strength. These lofty aims motivate the center’s instructors, who help students achieve their goals. During hapkido classes, they teach seven techniques—strikes, blocks, holds, throws, weapons, internal techniques, and healing—that combine to create one fluid and versatile mode of self-defense. Alternatively, trainers also lead groups through a series of punches and kicks during kickboxing classes, which use combat moves to create a high-octane, total-body workout. Equipped with 25 years of hapkido and kickboxing training and instruction, Master David Herbert teaches beginner classes, available at both locations.
Inside the dojang, or school, Eastern-style tapestries and plants set guests at ease as they work toward physical or metaphysical improvement. To that end, World Martial Arts Center complements its training regimens with health and nutrition advice. In addition, both the Brooklyn and Manhattan locations boast locker rooms for men and women, where guests can shower after a vigorous training session or lock up their Bruce Lee bobble heads while they work out.
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.
Pride Martial Arts' signature MMA classes blend elements of muay thai kickboxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and tae kwon do into fast-paced workouts open to ages 4 or older. Regardless of experience level, the sessions teach fighters techniques for punching, kicking, and other self-defense essentials, but they also encourage something more holistic, which the veteran teachers dub "the black-belt lifestyle." Achievable for students of any level, it hinges on discipline, hard work, and both mental and physical health—life skills that are helpful outside the dojo, too.
In the 1989 classic Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler declared kickboxing "the sport of the future." At Fitness Kickboxing's four locations, the future is now. Unlike Lloyd's quest for combat excellence, the students at these gyms dedicate themselves to a more peaceful goal: physical fitness. Instead of sparring with an opponent, they take their frustrations out on heavy bags, striking and kicking their way toward increased fitness and decreased poundage.
With more than 20 years' experience tucked under his hand wraps, Nestor Marte has been a trailblazer in popularizing muay thai in the United States. At his Ultimate Gym NY, Kru Nestor draws on his immersion in muay thai and Thai culture—he's certified by three camps in Bangkok and travels twice a year to Thailand to keep up with the latest—to pass along the best knowledge and skills to his students. He's trained with top muay thai fighters, and nowadays also works with masters from other martial arts, including judo, brazilian jujitsu, and vale tudo.
And while Ultimate Gym focuses on muay thai, like Kru Nestor, it's interests have expanded into other martial arts. The gym also offers boxing and luta livre submission wrestling classes in its 3,000-square-foot space. To accommodate the many modalities, the gym is decked out with matted floors, boxing rings, and thai heavy bags, which can be used for practicing kicks or trying out snappy one-liners.