Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
Having practiced since 1997, training under leaders in the field, and serving as the sole yoga instructor for the Kashi company in 2008, owner Brigette Niedringhaus opened Southtown Yoga with the goal of bringing a unique approach to the city yoga-studio concept. In doing so, Brigette built up a schedule replete with a variety of classes held in a warm and welcoming environment for students of all skill levels. The Riverfront Times recognized her efforts by naming Southtown Yoga its Best Yoga Studio in 2008. The staff that helped earned that award features 11 highly trained instructors who guide students through a series of poses during 45- to 90-minute group classes. Slow-paced Basics courses pave the way for Mixed Level sessions that expand on the fundamental concepts, and rooftop classes enable students to mix up the workout scenery, like lifting weights in a phone booth. Classes are available seven days a week, with some sessions beginning as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 7:30 p.m.
Justin Thacker, the muscle-bound founder of The Lab Gym, uses the same principles that motivated him through 19 years of weightlifting experience to spur on and cultivate a community of health-conscious exercisers at his modern, glass-walled gym. His team of expert trainers leads guests through group fitness classes that turn bodies into granite sculptures through a series of weightlifting routines and the crystallization of magma. Patrons can coax coy muscles from epidermal hideouts with free weights, dumbbells, squat racks, and an expansive cardio circuit, all accessible to members by keycard 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, Heavy Metal Crossfit?the gym's in-house CrossFit program?takes a different tack to fitness, leading exercisers ever-changing rotation of high-intensity functional movements.
For custom guidance, guests can pair up with a personal trainer or can sign up for the structured Laser weight-loss program, a regimen designed to blast off pounds with a laser focus but without actual lasers.
The instructors at YogaSource strive to make yoga accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability. To meet that goal, they offer eleven types of classes split between two studios, which are kept at different temperatures to accommodate those who prefer to stay calm and cool during practice, as well as those who like to sweat as they stretch. Yoga basics and intro to Hatha classes lead newcomers from pose to pose to build a foundation for future practice, and may incorporate props such as straps, blocks, and donuts that dangle just out of reach. Advanced options include power Vinyasa, where students flow through rigorous poses in 90-degree temperatures believed to help increase flexibility and promote detoxification, as well as the open-level class—known as The Practice—in which instructors and students attempt handstands and other challenging feats.
The sounds of flailing feet and fists correctly striking padded opponents pervade Absolute Martial Arts’ 3,600-square-foot facility, where students learn how to lose weight, tone up, and defend themselves simultaneously. Atop a large mat that the staff disinfects daily, professional instructors lead structured muay-thai kickboxing classes that slowly introduce exercisers to the fundamentals of the 1,000-year-old sport, which is similar to kickboxing and dissimilar to napping. Many of the trainers, including Thai-native Master Toddy, boast years of extensive training and practice, pushing students beyond their perceived limits but always keeping their safety in mind. It also offers Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed-martial-arts classes to allow students a chance to explore new forms or augment their muay-thai practice.
Olympia Fencing Academy’s seasoned squad of coaches and trainers imbues swashbuckling pupils with the skills and support necessary to brandish their blades all the way from the classroom to competition. Head coach Sean Horan taught NCAA fencers at Stevens Institute of Technology and the Air Force fencing team, and coach Glenn MacDonald harnesses his training with five-time Olympian Michael Marx to improve his students' lunges and olive-skewering strategies. Staffers stay abreast of annual national tournaments and often teach a number of apprentices who go on to enter the U.S. National Fencing Competition each year. In addition to in-house training, Olympia Fencing Academy supports community outreach and education programs with school fencing lessons, field trips, and dueling-swordfish demonstrations.