Most camp counselors can teach children how to tie-dye a t-shirt or braid a friendship bracelet. Very few, however, have experienced the exhilaration of vaulting into the end zone for a goal-line touchdown or intercepting a game-winning pass in front of thousands of rabid football fans. Across the country, Sports International Football Camps grant participants the opportunity to learn firsthand from professional athletes, whose gridiron battle scars have been forged by bell-ringing collisions with fearless opponents and reckless mascots on motorcycles.
Since 1983, the organization has partnered with veteran high-school coaches and pros, such as three-time Pro Bowl running back Priest Holmes, All-Pro linebacker Brian Cushing, and Super Bowl champion–cornerback Terrell Thomas. In those years, the camp has schooled some 91,000 alumni, including current NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich. Coaches break campers into groups by age, position, and ability and run practices that are competitive yet fun and supportive. For in-depth focus on the specific techniques of skill-position players, the camp also offers special academies for passing and receiving as well as kicking, punting, long snapping, and cooler lifting for Gatorade victory showers.
Xfit Studio's trainers prefer to think of themselves as mentors who help attendees of all fitness levels discover confidence and self-esteem as well as greater strength and stamina. Boot camps, TRX suspension training, kickboxing, HIIT, and core classes embrace this two-pronged approach by creating a supportive environment where the trainers ask guests to push themselves physically while still respecting their limits. The massive studio is lined with equipment such as resistance balls, heavy-duty ropes, and punching bags that can be incorporated into routines, and a wide garage door slides open to circulate fresh air on clear days. In addition to receiving guidance during class, students can also pick their instructors' brains afterward and glean some invaluable advice on nutrition, lifestyle choices, and the best type of car to bench-press.
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.
You might see "Motown" or "80s" on the schedule, but InSync Cycle Studio is not a dance venue. These events still involve plenty of legwork, though—students pedal aboard stationary bikes as invigorating music blares all the while. During these sessions, they'll surmount imaginary hills with real resistance, or zoom through long straightaways at high speeds. Some might be marathoners, and others might be first-timers. It doesn't matter to the instructor at the head of the class, who makes sure that everyone's workout is suited to their experience.
Typically, these instructors are the ones in charge of the music. Most classes aren't themed, but follow a mix of tunes that mesh with the teacher's taste. Some will even time the rhythm of their inclines and sprints to match the song, which is why "Flight of the Bumblebee" has been banned forever. Regardless of the soundtrack, each low-impact lesson helps to tone muscle and build endurance in a communal, encouraging space.