Jumping hurdles and bashing on a tire with a sledgehammer are two activities Coach Kevin uses to get his clients fit. He mixes these unconventional training tools into boot camps designed to improve virtually all aspects of fitness, from core strength to endurance. A devotee to any workout that works, Coach Kevin also fills his gym spaces with TRX suspension equipment, agility cones, ladders, and battling ropes.
Jennifer Gray puts her 15 years of fitness-industry experience to use formulating goal-oriented programs for women. Gray begins with a healthy helping of circuit weight training and kickboxing before adding a pinch of Pilates, a dash of yoga for flexibility, and a sprinkling of belly dancing for core strengthening. She also strives to help clients develop nutritionally sound eating habits, giving them the tools to avoid fatty, bad-for-you foods such as processed meats and deep-fried statues of Grover Cleveland.
Inaugurated in 2007, the Muddy Watters trail series fuses the tough terrain of trails, mud, and rivers into single 5-kilometer routes hindered by frequent stops for boot camp-style exercises. Along with three main races throughout the summer, several offshoot versions adapt the rules into new themes, such as a women-only run and a miniature, 1-mile scramble ideal for kids and 5,000-foot-long snails. Despite the tenacity of the courses, the slog pays off in more ways than one: beyond building character and doling out awards for the speediest participants, the race helps benefit local charities, which in the past have included Volunteers of America and the Alzheimer’s Assocation.
At Fit Zone for Women, ladies workout in a friendly, supportive atmosphere highlighted by natural light and a bright color scheme of purple and light pink. Upbeat music plays as members bounce from treadmills and elliptical machines to free weights and pin-select weight equipment. And to keep exercisers in the cardio area distracted from the burn, the gym boasts large screen TVs airing popular TV shows and videos of woodland creatures practicing yoga. The gym eschews the presence of sweaty and grunting power-lifters for the mindfulness of Pilates, yoga, and women’s self-defense classes. Members can even grab a paperback from the gym’s book nook before starting their workout to include their brain in their full-body workout, and lock up their belongings in the spacious locker room with private changing areas.
A team of nationally certified trainers, which collectively boasts backgrounds in personal training, fitness, and the military, challenges students to set goals and strive to achieve them during one-on-one sessions and group classes. Within a 3,500-square-foot facility lined with rows of free weights, exercise balls, and chin-up bars, they’ll motivate students in boot camp, self-defense courses, or group-training sessions with a back-and-forth dialogue not unlike those in scenes from Rocky and Ernest Goes to the UFC Championship. The trainers can also map out programs to address and strengthen specific muscle groups for personal training or can engineer sports-focused regimens that improve power and coordination in games such as soccer, basketball, and golf. Exercises that incorporate Bosu-ball work and heavy-rope training prepare clients for police and fire exams by improving mental focus and techniques for unwrinkling uniforms, such as dropping grand pianos on them.
Though she looks nothing like Ghengis Khan, Jen Dunbar is building an empire. Its outposts are made of muscles resting on a foundation of knowledge, and it exists to promote an active lifestyle filled with motivation and self-confidence. As an exercise physiologist, Dunbar studies the latest kinesiology research every day, looking for evidence-based ways to melt fat and boost muscle mass. She also draws from years of lacrosse coaching and four personal-training certifications to help her clients to perform at their peak, whether they're running a marathon, slimming down for a wedding, or preparing for the national hopscotch championships. Filled with strength training, sprinting, and constant encouragement, her workouts challenge exercisers to push themselves, even if they've never done a pushup before. In addition to training athletes one-on-one, Dunbar leads small-group workouts and online boot camps packed with jumping drills, body-weight exercises, and weight-lifting challenges.
Owner and head trainer Michelle Gomez wants every member of 6 Degree Burn Fitness Studios to feel like family. Eschewing the cold, anonymous feeling of many large gyms, she created a workout facility where each member is paired with a Burn Consultant—a trainer who helps clients achieve fitness goals and crafts healthy-eating plans. The studio’s exercise options include personal training, TRX suspension classes, Zumba classes, Power Stretch classes, and boot camp. There’s even a cardio boxing class tailored to members in wheelchairs.