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.
H.Y.P.E.D. stands for Healthier You Persisting Every Day, a nod to the founder's own struggles with her weight before she earned her personal-training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Driven by her battles with maintaining a healthful diet and exercise regimen, she strives to help others achieve their fitness goals, from building muscle tone and lowering cholesterol levels to fitting into their high-school fedora. In her boot-camp classes, she inspires patrons of all fitness levels to get whipped into shape in a positive, supportive atmosphere, free of drill-sergeant-like shouting. She offers further motivation with nutrition counseling and personal-training sessions and urges clients to call her for additional support outside of class.
Fitness isn?t something Michael and Beth Caldwell relegate to gym routines and exercise classes?it?s a lifestyle that permeates everything they do. Michael came to adopt this way of life after suffering from weight problems as a child, eventually conquering his issues after discovering exercise can be fun and fulfilling. He went on to devote his entire life to this pursuit of physical health, becoming a weight-loss consultant and chef to coach others toward slimmer figures. His wife, Beth, was an avid gym and sports enthusiast from the beginning, earning a personal-training certification the first chance she got. Even when she was pregnant, she maintained an active lifestyle and was down to a size 2 in a matter of months after giving birth to her second son. After discovering that the unique and varied CrossFit program was the well-rounded regimen they both sought, the duo became CrossFit Level 1 certified trainers and opened CrossFit BNI to share their passion for fitness with the community. BNI stands for Beyond Normal Intensity, and pairs well as a motto with the CrossFit philosophy of vigorous functional training. During the gym's Workout of the Day, participants hoist barbells, sprint through cardio drills, and practice gymnastics techniques, prepping their bodies to perform most any physical challenge thrown at them while outside of the gym or onstage in Peter Pan: Action Hero. Michael and Beth also host personal-training sessions and CrossFit kids' classes, creating a comfortable yet motivating environment for visitors of all ages.
Unlike traditional gyms that take a laissez-faire approach to fitness, letting clients fumble through their own workouts, Orangetheory leads exercisers in innovative personal group-training sessions that run through four distinct steps. Inside the warm, citrus glow of each facility, dozens of treadmills, rowing machines, free-weight sets, and Trx suspension systems await the next interval changeover. Music sends electric currents of energy through the atmosphere as patrons sweat out calories, and personal trainers patrol the aisles, giving pointers for touching up form and blinking out motivational words in Morse code. Clients keep an eye on their heart-rate readouts to ensure they're in the peak range for burning fat and building muscle. After an hour—during which guests complete a 10- to 30-minute interval at each of the four stations—the "orange effect" sets in and jump-starts metabolisms, possibly for days after the workout has ended.
Orangetheory Fitness has been highlighted in the New York Times for its seminal workout plan, which was designed by Florida fitness expert Ellen Latham to help people to turn their workout plateaus into springboards. With more than 50 classes per week at each location, members can capitalize on the gym's personal-training vibe and stimulating group setting at their leisure.
The trainers at Best Day Fitness Studio have put as much work into their brains as their bodies. Everyone—including the massage therapists—holds a four-year degree in exercise science, which informs group classes and private sessions with each specialist's analytic expertise. Rather than simply counting reps on the sidelines or hiring a metronome to substitute, trainers strive to educate clients so they understand why and how each maneuver works. They also update an online database of articles and tutorials as supplementary reading for their clients. During classes, trainers prioritize slow and focused movements to build functional fitness and challenge participants at an appropriate pace. With extensive knowledge of anatomy and movement, they also teach lessons on minimalist running technique and provide a suite of specialized appointments for clients who seek physical rehabilitation after a stroke.
Dozens of upright punching bags stand like padded pillars throughout MA Fitness’s space. Over the years, they have learned to fear the fists and feet of the gym’s aspiring martial artists. Thanks to the motivation and encouragement offered by the staff of professional and volunteer coaches, even first-time kickboxers pound the stuffing from their stationary opponents with an endless rain of blows. The strikes get fiercer as students perfect their technique with unlimited kickboxing classes or build their strength during body-resistance conditioning courses.
In addition to helping patrons whip themselves into shape and hone self-defense skills in a cross-training atmosphere, the staff reaches out to the community through myriad charity efforts. MA Fitness has sponsored fundraisers for organizations including All Children's Hospital, Toys for Tots, and the American Cancer Society. Each week, it hosts Sunday Smack Downs, a kickboxing class from which part of the proceeds go to charity, untouched by overweight cats wearing top hats and smoking cigars.