It's hard to learn how to fight until you've actually stepped into the ring, which is why the expertise of professional fighters is so highly valued in instructors at martial-arts clubs. With teachers whose in-the-ring careers earned them nicknames like "Merciless" and "Little Giant," American Combat Club's crew members turns their own grappling and striking experiences into a lineup of mixed-martial-arts classes fit for all levels. They teach a fusion form of boxing and kickboxing that incorporates elbow and knee strikes, as well as a Brazilian-jujitsu-based grappling program that elucidates takedowns, submissions, and defenses against commonly encountered holds. Becoming a well-rounded fighter requires more than just technical skill, however, so the teachers also offer full-body conditioning classes in which participants flip tractor tires, swing sledgehammers, and heft medicine balls until they finally confess that they can't actually cure the common cold.
The staff at Legacy Fitness never yells, berates, or curses at their patrons during Legacy Fitness boot camps. Instead, they motivate them with a sense of humor and positive encouragement. To keep them engaged and prevent them from suffering workout burnout, they lead them in a new routine every day. This ever-varying approach prevents bodies from adapting to the workouts, so muscles must always work their hardest, burning more calories and building strength more quickly. They conduct the camps at multiple indoor and outdoor locations, drawing from the surroundings to guide the workouts. On any given day, students might flip oversize tires end over end and work as a team to push a car down an empty street or do sprints and heave medicine balls in a gym. These functional workouts help patrons tone their entire bodies more safely and effectively than swimming laps in a quicksand pit.
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 to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Equipment: Strength equipment, treadmills, Arc Trainers, StairMasters
Students should bring: Bottle of water, towel, fitness clothing, tennis shoes
Average class length: 60 minutes
Number of Staff: 25+ people
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Parking garage
Body Club's trainers help produce healthier, more athletic members using every inch of their 23,000-square-foot studio. They work up sweats in one-on-one sessions on machines and also lead group fitness classes in a 3,800-square-foot studio that's big enough for no one to notice that one guy doing the chicken dance during Zumba. As a team, they teach everything from TRX and Pilates to coed pole-dancing classes. But the gym also keeps the important things in mind: child-care services are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., helping parents make more time for workouts.
When the instructors at JB Studios Dance and Fitness turn up the music, their welcoming space transforms into a full-on party. Black lights wash students in a cosmic glow as they twist, turn, and sweat to contemporary and Latin beats, taking their cues from the clearly visible instructor on the elevated platform.
This energetic scene is inspired by the studio’s head instructor, Jhon Benavides. Drawing on more than 20 years of Latin dance experience, he stirs Latin-flavored moves from salsa, samba, and merengue into rigorous Zumba fitness classes. Each hour-long Zumba session can burn up to 1,000 calories—twice as much as one hour spent saying “Zumba” over and over again. Jhon’s team of certified dance and fitness teachers also share their expertise during boot camps, kickboxing sessions, belly dance lessons, and power yoga classes.