With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
After giving birth to her son in 2009, Jen weighed nearly 300 pounds. Enticed by Hoopnotica’s unorthodox, fun approach to cardio, Jen began teaching herself and hooped through an entire song within three weeks. After a year of hoop and an improved diet, she shed 140 pounds. Inspired by her discipline, Jen’s husband, Keith, became her first Hoopnotica student and has lost more than 100 pounds.
These days, the Hoopnotica master trainer and certified hoop dance instructor teaches more than 15 Hoopnotica classes each week. With hoops made by Keith, students in private lessons, group classes, and workshops learn basic moves such as waist hooping, hip hooping, and whoop hooping, the Victorian method of curing whooping cough by just regular hula-hooping. Once they get the hang of it, pupils begin fortifying their cores, building stamina, and burning upward of 300 calories an hour.
After class, pupils can purchase Hoopnotica products such as DVDs and travel hoops or request a custom hoop with more than 60 tape choices. Outside the classroom, Jen and Keith train and certify new Hoopnotica instructors throughout the country and continue sharing their stories through media outlets such as Today.
Inside the dimly lit studio, where special-effects lights and video projections flicker across the faces of up to 15 riders, the low hum of Cycledelic's FreeMotion stationary bikes is interrupted only by the energizing beats of the instructor's motivating musical selections. Each of the certified spin instructors uses a teaching style that emphasizes a no-frills approach, which allows students to cycle comfortably and at their own pace. Since class sizes are capped out at just more than a dozen, students receive more personalized attention, from getting help with bike fitting to receiving encouraging words through tough simulated hill climbs. Cycledelic's studio sports unisex showers and a separate bathroom, which supports riders' speedy mindset with convenient washup facilities.
Over the last 30-plus years, Chris Herzog has been in and out of the ring, competing in kickboxing, judo, and Russian sambo competitions, just three of the combat styles in which he holds an instructional certification. Joined by 22-year boxing veteran Wally "The Weapon" MacDonald—nicknamed for his ability to set off airport metal detectors with his mind—the two provide comprehensive instruction in many styles of martial arts popular in professional fighting today.
The academy divides its programs into classes focused on learning a particular skill. Striking packages focus on the essentials of muay thai and Western boxing, while grappling packages draw from Brazilian jujitsu, judo, and Russian sambo. The ironfisted instructors even tailor their classes to kids, teaching character development and confidence.
Knockout Fitness welcomes members of every exercise background, but refrains from catering their programs to average goals. Instead, their staff of certified personal trainers shoots for each client's maximum potential, motivating them to dream big and buff during intensive private sessions and group workouts. Within the 13,000-square-foot, TV-equipped gym, guests can pedal aboard stationary bikes in a specialized cardio area or mount high-stakes games of hot potato using the free-weights in the strength-training zone. They'll operate machines from notable brands such as Precor, Life Fitness, and Cybex, as well as use more independent gear from Woodway. Members can also take advantage of the gym's stand-up tanning booths and onsite physical-therapy services.
Before hitting the gym, certified personal trainer Kristine Maio-Sandman hits the books. That is, she researches her workouts so that her clients can achieve the maximum benefits, varying the exercises so as not to overlook any muscle groups. Her one-hour boot-camp classes target the entire body with a medley of cardio and strength drills, relying especially on the student's own weight for resistance and following a military structure that can be scaled for any fitness level or age. Kristine employs the same attention to detail when leading private and small-group training sessions, and her certification in sports nutrition also enables her to dispense dietary tips, such as which foods to shop for or which sushi to throw back into the ocean.