Brad Pugh has followed a healthy diet and exercise plan his whole life—until a few years ago, that is. Frustrated by the time and energy commitment, he decided to take a break from working out, which led to three years of inactivity and 30 extra pounds. As he huffed and puffed his way back to fitness, he resolved to use this experience as an opportunity to help others get back into shape. In 2000, Brad founded Shaping U Fitness, a gym specializes in small-group exercise programs.
A nationally certified personal trainer, Brad earned local renown when he was named the city’s second-best personal trainer by Birmingham Magazine. Six days a week, he runs indoor and outdoor boot-camp classes as well as personal-training sessions available on a one-on-one or semiprivate basis. Brad helps his clients modify unhealthy eating habits as well by designing meals based on the 14-day detox plan. Healthy meals centering around lean cuts of meat and high-nutrient vegetables are prepared by a chef and delivered to the home.
When she is not busy sharing the multifarious benefits of her bodywork with couples in hands-on massage workshops, licensed therapist Chelsea Short concentrates on soothing muscular aches with a range of therapeutic spa services. Chelsea’s couples classes, held on Saturdays, begin with a basic overview of Swedish massage techniques. The instruction soon gives way to one-on-one practice as couples take turns kneading the knots out of each other’s backs and transmitting affectionate messages in Morse code. Passive learners can indulge in a signature massage that culls techniques from Swedish, deep-tissue, and trigger-point modalities to relieve chronic pain. A boundless supply of hot packs and heated foot towels keeps little piggies warm after cold trips to the market, and a hot-towel facial reduces skin oil while clearing countenances of acne and blemishes.
With a lineage that traces back more than 30 years to its founders' respective schools, Tiger Rock Martial Arts has grown to more than 200 locations nationwide. Tiger Rock's primary focus is tae kwon do, through which certified trainers teach youngsters the skills to defend themselves, as well as confidence and discipline. Adults can learn tae kwon do as well or encounter martial-arts moves in a calorie-torching aerobic workout. Tiger Rock also partners with sports teams to bolster their training or with corporations to get their employees up, moving, and healthy.
Any gym can have free weights and treadmills, but Fit 24 thrives on a strong sense of community. The gym’s trainers host nonstop group fitness classes five days a week, including classic aerobics and boot-camp sessions that blend cardio and strength training. Trainers can also set up personal-training sessions, during which they teach clients to make the most of the gym's perpetually available equipment. Trainers can even go mobile to bring their expertise to the front doors of nearby homes and offices to keep the sweat flowing. For competitive customers, the staff organizes flag-football and kickball teams, which compete in six-week seasons against other local teams. After working up sweats, gym members can hit the free tanning beds to maintain their summery glows throughout the depths of winter or in the event that the sun never rises again.
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 along 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.
Within Geaux Play Sports Training & Fitness’s indoor and outdoor sports facility, trainers help athletes hone their baseball and softball skills with sports-specific training and motivate patrons of all fitness levels to maintain a healthy lifestyle with energetic fitness classes. Sports training takes the form of one-on-one sessions with pro athletes, during which students learn to sharpen their pitching, hitting, or catching skills, and year-round group camps devoted to keeping teams in top shape, even in the off-season. Geaux Play's general fitness classes help whip bodies into shape with a lineup of indoor and outdoor boot-camp classes that features a constantly varied series of exercise and cardio challenges. The sweat-inducing spinning classes are conducted at a self-directed pace, infusing bodies with cardio endurance and the joyous memories of a thousand children's bicycles.