As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Led by more than 1,000 wellness experts at locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, the more than 30,000 members of Prairie Life Fitness have discovered why the company slogan is "Fitness for the Entire Family." The certified trainers and instructors cater to exercisers of various ages and abilities, all within an upscale, welcoming atmosphere. Kids take advantage of engaging childcare activities and youth programs, including swimming lessons, martial arts, and story time. Meanwhile, parents can workout on the latest equipment, including stationary cycles and Pilates machines. Guests can also relax with amenities such as massage therapy, tanning beds, and a whirlpool powered by wholesale bags of Pop Rocks.
Inside Element Fitness, the lime-green walls of the cardio room energize guests dashing away on treadmills as the yoga studio’s crisp white walls and glowing orb lights soothe yogis. The pool room echoes with splashing as guests stretch during pool aerobics classes; the dry sauna nearby remains quiet, letting guests absorb dry heat without listening to the heavy-metal albums played in traditional saunas. Stationary bikes adorn the spinning studio. Meanwhile, in workout studios lined with free weights, personal trainers make use of their professional weightlifting or triathlon experience during one-on-one personal-training sessions or group fitness classes.
At Brazil Academy, Ninja Pinto fulfills his lifelong dream of bringing the martial arts capoeira and jujitsu to American audiences from his native Brazil, where he spent his formative years training in these fighting techniques. Now a contra-mestre with more than a decade of teaching experience, Ninja leads instructors who, in addition to martial arts, guide groups of all ages and fitness levels through foot-spicing Latin dances, yoga, and cardio workouts. Students in need of more focused attention can opt for private lessons, during which instructors teach skills and fitness techniques on a one-on-one basis.