Certified personal trainer Cleveland Hughes Jr. leads up to 30 clients at a time in high-energy workouts on weekday mornings. Every 55-minute workout is different, but classes are composed of aerobics, strength training, kickboxing, gymnastics, and games. Nutritional guidance is also offered.
A chalky hand swings over the top of the wall, grasping onto the red hold embedded in its surface. After a tense moment, a second hand swings up, pulling the rest of the climber's body up with it. Having successfully scaled 18-foot top-out boulder, the climber scurries back down the wall she has just conquered, swapping places with her spotter below.
This cycle repeats throughout the day at Bridges Rock Gym, spurred on by a crew of climbing enthusiasts and instructors who initiate people into the low-altitude sport of bouldering. That form of climbing emphasizes solving climbing problems and chasing archaeologists through ancient caves. The gym unleashes visitors' inner mountain goats with their well-maintained climbing facilities, including an overhanging indoor-climbing cave that thoroughly punishes muscles into growth and top-rope climbing walls that help beginners get the hang of scaling the crag.
While specializing in the art of ascents, Bridges also bolsters patron fitness. Yoga and fitness classes, as well as a fleet of cardio equipment, facilitate heart-strengthening workouts. Waves of free WiFi allow mountaineers uninterrupted access to videos of their pet rocks, best enjoyed with a fresh house-made juice or sandwich in the gym's lounge.
As they enter the training at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Led by June Kamerling and her expert instructors, El Cerrito Fitness’s classes aim to help students of all levels achieve their fitness goals with a variety of different Pilates techniques. The classes make use of springboards or reformer machines, using the apparatus to challenge guests to sink deeper into stretches. Mat Pilates classes harness the power of resistance to strengthen cores.
Vara Healing Arts helps clients relax and recuperate from injury or stress in three ways. Their instructors teach several different styles of yoga including ashtanga, hatha flow, and vinyasa; and their classes aim to calm the mind, ease discomfort, and strengthen the body. Licensed massage therapists perform more than two dozen specialty and advanced body treatments from acupuncture and aromatherapy massage to crystal therapy and reflexology. Finally, the relaxation center features eight-person saunas, where raised temperatures can induce sweating that purifies the skin, purges toxins from the body, and exercises lazy sweat glands.