After winning a gold medal in the US National Kuoshu championships and fighting as a member of the US Kung Fu team, Gary Berger decided to bring his skills back stateside. Classes started small, but Gary slowly began attracting both students and instructors until his humble operation became the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy. Under Gary's direction, the center now offers an extensive martial arts curriculum in styles such as muay thai, kung fu, aikido, and Brazilian jiujitsu. Coach Gary cultivates an environment based on respect, hard work, and personal growth, where criticism is frowned upon and egos are checked at the door along with oversized suitcases. Gary’s wife Danyelle heads up instruction of the gym's fitness classes, which include kettlebell, kickboxing, yoga, and Zumba. Between its many martial arts offerings and more general fitness classes, BMAA boasts a diverse student body, including athletes, casual exercisers looking to burn calories, and even children with physical or mental disabilities taking part in Coach Gary’s special needs classes.
The volunteer-based school banks on the enthusiasm and passion of its dedicated instructors. Located in Baltimore County in Owings Mills, Maryland, the 3,000-square-foot studio features two training rooms plus changing areas for men and women. Calligraphy and paintings line the wall space of the spirited studio. Its Tai Chi program also emphasizes the Tien Shan Pai motto, "Virtue, Wisdom, Humility, Martial Arts," and is suited for students of all age and skill levels. Group classes are offered Saturday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings. View a complete course schedule here. Studies have shown the unhurried exercise can help prevent or ease aging ills and may be beneficial for an exhaustive list of medical conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Call ahead to schedule your first session.
LA Boxing’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, LA Boxing sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
The dance floor at Roda Movements sizzles with the dance and martial-arts forms of Brazil and Latin America. In capoeira classes, students gather in a circle playing drums, the single-stringed berimbau, and the tambourine, taking turns moving to the center to perform acrobatic movements that blend sparring techniques with graceful sweeping motions of the native dance style. Brazilian jiujitsu teaches grappling techniques for fighting on the ground, and Zumba sets a calorie-blasting aerobic-dance routine to Latin rhythms. The ballroom styles of salsa teach quick-paced steps to guests dancing solo, in pairs, or with a musically inclined mop. In addition to Latin dance and martial-arts classes, patrons can build muscles while whittling their waistlines in yoga and African-dance classes. Also catering to the wee ones, kids-only versions of specific classes helped Roda Movements earn a Best of the Best award from the Takoma Voice.