John Wai is a living bridge between the ancient and modern styles of kung fu. Born in Hong Kong and schooled in the orthodox traditions of martial arts, Wai was already a kung-fu master by the time he opened his first academy in 1997. He has managed to stay relevant by combining the ancient approach with a modern, practical outlook that draws in a wider range of students. His classes—which include fitness kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu as well as kung fu—focus on things such as exercise, stress-relief, and self-defense, and he also offers a summer camp where kids learn discipline, self-confidence, and how to open a care package with a single well-timed kick.
Kids' karate is one of the specialties at American T.K.A. Universal Martial Arts, and it's no surprise: the gym goes so far as to pick students up after school so that they can take part in their hobby as soon as the bell rings. Though karate joins tae kwon do and MMA as three of their programs tailored specifically to children, the staff also guides adults through martial-arts training as well. After 15 years at the same location, American T.K.A.'s offerings also include muay thai, boxing for kids and adults, and aerobics-style kickboxing for grownups.
At MimsFit, certified personal trainer Chris Mims nudges exercisers toward their fitness goals during boot-camp classes and personal-training sessions. Whether his clients want to lose weight, build strength, or run through the grocery without being caught by the store manager, Mims’s full-body workouts include body-weight, kettlebell, rope, tire, and sledgehammer exercises. To fortify newly formed muscles, Mims also sheds light on what to eat during nutritional-counseling sit-downs.
When pro fighters hang up their gloves, they come to work at RingFit. The instructors—all former professional fighters—lead students through RingFit’s signature workout, which simulates the experience of getting in shape to train for a fight. Focusing on strength, power, speed, stamina, flexibility, and coordination, the workouts mix weightlifting, pushing, pulling, jumping, and slamming with kicking and punching on a heavy bag. Each workout lasts for a specified number of rounds, just like a real fight against an opponent.
Black heavy bags sway from the force of powerful roundhouse kicks and rapid-fire jabs. Next to them, on the padded black-and-red-checkered floor, groups perform squats clenching dumbbells and sit-ups while palming kettlebells. These and similar exercises occur during Round 2 Kickboxing's five fitness classes—45- to 60-minute sessions filled with core blasting moves culled from boot-camp and boxing training regimens.
The gym's philosophy is to get the most out of the least exertion, believing the body needs energy left over to heal, get stronger, and power home generators. Mixing up exercises and routines, the instructors make it easier to continue with their programs and reach goals. For a customized fitness experience, personal trainers work directly with clients. Kids can also relieve stress from long hours at the lemonade stand by pummeling heavy bags in kickboxing classes that fuse tae kwon do, muay thai, and jujitsu.
At Renzo Gracie Training Center, which was named after Brazilian jujitsu master Renzo Gracie, mentor of UFC champions Matt Serra and Ricardo Almeida, students of all skill levels sculpt stronger, leaner bodies with high-energy classes. The academy’s training center equips athletes with climbing ropes, wrestling mats, and punching bags for classes in boxing or muay thai. HyperFit classes pump hearts with high-intensity conditioning drills to improve strength, agility, and speed as martial-arts courses teach students defenses against common street attacks and weapons such as guns, knives, and trebuchets. The studio also facilitates cross-training efforts by hosting clinics on topics such as yoga, running, and intergalactic pole vaulting.
Founded by Chief Master William Clark, Karate America is a popular martial-arts school that believes martial arts can make people happier and healthier. With locations around Florida, Karate America is staffed by highly trained instructors teaching children and adults the self-defense moves of tae kwon do, krav maga, and kickboxing. While training in a team-like atmosphere in each of these classes, members learn self-discipline and respect, gain lean muscle, and burn calories.