It's not all kicking and punching. Although there is a lot of that, the instructors at The Charland Institute of Karate & Fitness use the classes and facility as a conduit for helping students deal with everyday challenges, de-stress, and build confidence. During strengthening and cardio-intensive classes, students kick their way through a curriculum that forges traditional and modern martial arts, aiming to teach self-defense, discipline, and how to effectively punt an assailant.
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, 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.
The attentive trainers of Core Studio sculpt bodies and impart fitness-focused wisdom within an intimate, boutique-style facility. Guests can take their pick of five group classes, all of which inspire camaraderie among buffness buffs, keeping muscles motivated and preventing predatory medicine balls from picking off stragglers. Zumba, propelled by invigorating music and custom choreography, entertains as it chases off rhythm-phobic calories. Yoga sessions revitalize lungs and limbs alike, and cycling and strength training forge firmer cores and promote balance, stamina, and endurance. Check the schedule for class times.
Visitors never have to wait in line to workout at Cardio Express—each of the six clubs boasts a ton of Cybex strength-training machinery, an arsenal of free weights, and more than 80 pieces of cardio equipment affixed with personal 15-inch television screens. Compassionate instructors imbue gym visits with a human element as well, leading classes such as Core Fusion, Total Tone circuit training, and spinning sessions at the Southington, Vernon, and Manchester locations. Each year, the staff members carry the same motivational energy they use in their studios to recruit members and friends for the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour. Cardio Express has raised a grand total of nearly $400,000, and it also acts as title sponsor for the 2012 benefit.
Energy Fitness's certified personal trainers help clients capture elusive muscles by leading exercisers over savannahs of workout machines and weight equipment in a 15,000-square-foot facility. A personal training session gets clients off on the right foot by helping them design a fitness regimen tailored to their goals. Trainers have four lines of weight machines at their disposal with which they can personalize workouts for exercisers of all ages and fitness levels. The center's 45 cardio workout machines occupy both limbs and eyes, as personal televisions attached to each machine broadcast news stories about local squirrels who made good. In the weight room, dumbbells clamor to be hoisted.
Paul Carson and Jack Banks started teaching fitness classes 30 years ago in a small abandoned dairy. Since those humble beginnings, they built Malibu Fitness—a modern gym where they help people build rippling muscles. Their trained group fitness instructors lead classes in yoga and Pilates, as well as more high-energy Zumba classes that set Latin dance moves to international tunes. Meanwhile, you’ll hop on a stationary bike for the spinning classes, which rely on intense climbs and sprints to elevate heart rates and burn calories. There’s also the option of one-on-one workouts with personal trainers, who can tailor workouts that shed girth, strengthen muscles, and improve athletic performance.
There are a number of nice bonus amenities at Malibu Fitness—it has flat-screen TVs, locker rooms, and a SunDome stand-up tanning booth. And if you’re hungry after a workout, there’s a shake bar that doles out Island Oasis protein shakes. The well-staffed team here even provides child care. And each year around Thanksgiving, the owners sponsor a road race that donates thousands of dollars to charities to offset America's turkey footprint.