"When we teach—from babyhood—people to move well, they'll enjoy doing it, and they'll continue doing it." Such is the philosophy of Gymco president and co-founder Doreen Bolhuis, which she relayed to the New York Times in a 2010 video report. The importance of starting young kids on the road toward athleticism is something Bolhuis is passionate about, especially as a former elite-level gymnastics coach who's been teaching for more than 35 years. It's a concept she calls "physical literacy," and she's appeared on news outlets such as Today, CNN, and ABC News to discuss how young children's physical training and development is just as important as their mental growth. Along those lines, Bolhuis created the GymTrix line of DVDs to help parents develop babies' fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
And Bolhuis's enthusiasm for childhood fitness is apparent at Gymco, where her staff undergoes a four-step technical and philosophical certification protocol on sports development. She has transformed what began in 1980 as a few classes held in a barn behind a local retirement home into a 5-acre, 16,000-square-foot first location and a second, state-of-the-art facility on the north side of town.
When you walk into either site, you'll see kids scaling rock walls, doing back flips, and defying imaginary pirates as they walk the plank-like high beam, improving their physical skills in sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading classes. What aren't as obvious are the internal changes that begin to manifest, from improved self-confidence and perseverance to the gradual building of character. Fulfilling her start-them-early mission, Bolhuis also offers classes designed specifically for preschoolers and kindergartners.
Andye, founder of Body By Armr, has been an athlete since she started walking. For most of her life she mainly focused her workout routines on running. While training, she realized that if she turned up her workout intensity she could achieve the same results during a 30- to 45-minute workout that she could with a 90-minute run. This inspired her to become a personal trainer to share her workout techniques with others.
Strength equipment, cardio machines, and a fully loaded aerobic room occupy most of Westside Fitness's 20,000 square feet of space. That's where fitness classes such as outdoor bootcamp, CardioCombo, Pilates, and HIIT Kick work exercisers into a sweat. While members power through classes, children keep busy under the watchful eyes of the staff at Kids Stay-N-Play. And after a workout or personal training session, clients can treat themselves to a massage or tan.
Judo black belt Ryan Bow first opened Kaminari Dojo Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Tokyo. There, he passed down the MMA prowess that led him to become one of the top-ranked professional fighters in the world. Now stateside, Bow—along with his staff—blends his knowledge of Japanese and American MMA, making for a well-rounded style that places importance on the "art" in martial arts.
The 20-acre Salvation Army Kroc Center provides a diverse array of community services, ranging from fitness and recreation to worship. In the fitness center, visitors can take advantage of equipment such as free weights and cardio and strength-training machines. The facilities include a two-court gym and an aquatics center, replete with a pool, hot tub, and water slide. The center also houses The Salvation Army Kroc Church, which hosts bilingual services each Sunday.