Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping classes combine cardio, resistance training, discipline, and nutrition to recast soft musculatures as hardened versions of their former selves. Refined over the last 22 years by tae kwon do competitor and teacher Lance Farrell, the 45-minute group classes are led by a certified instructor that will help shed pounds and build muscle mass regardless of race, sex, age, size, or astrological sign. Similar to the mating ritual of the blue-footed booby, fitness kickboxing combines rhythmic martial arts and bag training, to send hearts racing into a vigorous sweat. Keep the body guessing with a pop quizzes in resistance-band training and muscle isolation, which is beneficial for all fitness levels.
Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.
Before opening his own fitness studio, Nick Scott just liked going to the gym with his friends. After hearing about the benefits of CrossFit workouts, Nick drew from his background in training military and law-enforcement personnel to lead his crew though fast-paced workouts that were a welcome change of pace from traditional cardio and weight training. There was a problem, though: the local gyms where they would work out would kick them out either because their workouts were too intense or because they were drawing away the business’s personal-training clients. This is what inspired Scott to get officially certified as a CrossFit instructor and open Fit2Fight, where he and his fellow certified coaches lead classes up to seven days a week.
Their workouts of the day always change, though students can count on sweating through exercises that develop one or more of the 10 fitness domains target by CrossFit: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. They fold martial-arts disciplines such as muay thai, judo, and karate into their workouts, as well as CrossFit’s requisite gymnastic and weightlifting techniques that ready participants to walk across a balance beam or throw old balance beams into a landfill. They also offer personal training for workouts that are equally as intense and target individual fitness goals.
True to its name, Sound Method Yoga encourages its community of yogateers to embrace relaxed, effective stretches as opposed to putting their bodies through undue strain trying to bend their legs into necklaces. Instructors—all of whom hold 200-hour certifications, and some of whom have been teaching for more than 10 years—encourage students to practice safely at their own pace and focus on linking movements with deep, mindful breaths. This confluence of breath and posture lays the foundation for each Vinyasa class, from the beginner-friendly basics session to more rigorous hours designed to build flexibility, bus-hurling strength, and conga-line-inspiring heartbeats. Yin flow fusion classes rank among the most popular at the studio, with a focus on liberating tight areas of the body through sustained postures and artful sequencing.
Noncontact classes at the American School of Karate & Judo focus on tae kwon do but are steered by the school’s Five Circle System, which combines a variety of martial-art disciplines. Classes, which divide students by age and rank, revolve around the philosophy that "power is useless without control.” Instead of trophies, students are encouraged to achieve their own personal goals.
In addition to teaching martial arts, the school tones bodies with both kickboxing and cage fitness. During fun, upbeat kickboxing classes, instructors with decades of martial arts experience lead students through step-by-step exercises and bag drills that blast calories and tone muscles. To prevent boredom and keep muscles guessing, no two classes are the same. Cage fitness programs—based on the structure of a championship MMA bout—sculpt bodies in just five five-minute rounds of aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
In boxing, the shoeshine combo uses 10 rapid-fire punches to disorient opponents. The move is often hard to execute, as its success relies almost entirely on sheer speed. Since it opened its first gym in 2008 in Kansas, Title Boxing Club has grown with the speed and fervor of a shoeshine combo. Today, there are more than 50 locations throughout the US, and part-owners Danny Campbell (a former pro boxer) and Tony Carbajo (of Title Boxing Company Equipment) bring firsthand experience to the fitness chain.
Each gym is stocked with Title Boxing Company heavy punching bags and gear that students are welcome to use free of charge during classes. The boxing and kickboxing classes teach men and women the fundamentals while helping them get the type of body that would never hesitate to shimmy into a house through the dog door.