A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
The martial-arts masters at AKKA Karate USA specialize in kenpo karate, a unique form that builds muscle tone and reflexes in order to use the body’s natural weapons—hands and feet—for self-defense. In addition to kenpo, they also lead classes focused on MMA, tai chi, and weapons training. Often, AKKA holds special events such as tournaments and sparring seminars. In addition to learning self-defense techniques, students also build valuable life skills such as an appreciation for fitness, discipline, and self-confidence.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
The trainers at ProType Sports Academy adopt a multifaceted approach to exercise, basing their fitness programs on scientific research and personal experience. After talking to clients about their fitness goals and level of physical conditioning, they formulate workouts designed to prevent muscles from hitting the snooze button after too many repetitions. Trainers work with clients through each step of the process, guiding them through workouts in weight training, plyometrics, and Vertimax training, the last of which applies weight to legs and arms simultaneously. They also helm group classes in subjects such as kickboxing, yoga, TRX, spinning, and Pilates. These classes take place across a sprawling facility complete with two basketball courts, two indoor-soccer fields, a boot-camp field, a dance studio, and a quicksand pit that makes for some intense resistance training.