Since 1988, Midlothian Athletic Club has dedicated its 70,000 square feet to myriad forms of achieving healthy living. Whether members want to hone tennis and racquetball skills, break a sweat in group exercise classes such as spinning and BodyPump, or relax in a sauna, they can do it at the MAC. The staff troll a stock of cardio and strength-training equipment, including FreeMotion Elite weight machines, Life Fitness treadmills and ellipticals, and Precor machines, ready to dole out technique pointers. At the indoor pool, swimmers can get a workout on the lap lanes, slip down water slides, or pretend to be toddlers in the kiddie pool. The club also has six indoor lanes, where instructors lead water-aerobics classes that are gentler on joints than moon aerobics.
To help guests recover after a hard workout, the Midlothian Athletic Club hosts many means of relaxation. The massage therapists calibrate their fingers to several styles of kneading, including deep-tissue, Swedish, and myofascial release massage. At the MAC Cafe, chefs sear turkey burgers, bake lime-chili parmesan fries, and blend protein shakes to order for nutritious refueling.
In 2011, readers of Richmond magazine voted Rigby's Jig Dance Studio the Best Place to Learn How to Dance for Your Wedding, citing instructors that will help choose music and can choreograph routines to classic torch songs and pop tunes. With a lifetime's worth of experience—starting at the age of 3 and including a bachelor's in Theater and Dance from George Washington University—owner Eleanor Robertson heads an enthusiastic faculty.
Robertson’s favorite dances include West Coast swing and the cha-cha, both of which are among the 19 ballroom dances taught to any adult within the bright confines of the citrus-colored studio. Argentine tango milongas and dance parties take over in the evenings, allowing students to try out new steps with members of the broader dance community. The spacious studio seats 100 across its gleaming hardwood floors, and rows of mirrors enable those in movement classes⎯yoga and cardio dance are also on the schedule⎯to work on the balance and alignment of their vestigial tails.
At Richmond Balance, trainers forge bodies to match the beauty of life-changing events. Their new mommy boot-camp classes help ladies achieve post-pregnancy goals, such as a slimmer stomach or arms that can change stroller tires without a jack. Support remains the common element of these specialized programs?the staff gathers students with similar objectives and capitalizes on a sense of camaraderie. The same method guides the Balanced Buddies system, in which partners share the same personal trainer.
Even outside the communal atmosphere of classes, Richmond Balance prioritizes an intimate, custom approach to health. Its certified trainers will travel to homes for private sessions or supervise clients as they sweat aboard the gym's Precor, Tuff Stuff, and Schwinn equipment. During workouts, guests can occupy their eyes by watching the individual flat-screen televisions on select machines or by counting the exposed bricks on the walls around them.
At CrossFit Full Circle, dedicated coaches motivate students to get into the best shape of their lives. They’re guided by the no-nonsense workout ethic of CrossFit, a system that focuses on constantly varied functional exercises executed at high intensity. The gym's personal trainers draw from a wealth of experiences and certifications—owner Jason Struck is working on a master's degree in exercise physiology, and coach Matt Bahen boasts a background in serving with elite units in the navy⎯as they lead boot camps and exercises such as hurling kettlebell weights and performing pull-up reps. In order to build muscle, burn fat, and shake houseguests' hands firmly but not so firmly that they lose their arms, members use top-shelf equipment, weights, and bumper plates from brands such as Pendlay, Rogue, Kraiburg, and Dragon Door, all under the constant encouragement of a like-minded community of fellow athletes.
X-Team Fitness's septet of trainers battle the side effects of sedentary lifestyles by challenging their students to ditch couches and desk chairs for hour-long outdoor excursions all over the Richmond area. Instructors coach students through a rigorous program of endurance drills, strength training, and nutritional counseling to produce body-transforming results. The team holds each student accountable for their progress, even calling to check up on students if he or she fails to show up for a scheduled class. X-Team Fitness requires no previous experience to attend a camp, accommodating former college athletes alongside refrigerators who’ve just taken up running.
Sheltering Arms' boot-camp classes whip clients into shape with strength-and-cardio circuit training, and Athletic Republic Acceleration Richmond's individually designed, sport-specific training programs help athletes ages 8 and up play to the best of their ability and avoid injuries. The sports-training option combines high-tech equipment, expert guidance, and hard work to mold baseball, football, track and field, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, baseball, or fast-pitch softball jocks into superhero versions of themselves. Instructors lead students through pre- and post-performance tests of abilities and strengths, as well as an analysis of running form.