At Shapes Total Fitness for Women, the instructors strive to make working out as easy and fun as possible. That's why—in addition to providing access to free weights and cardio machines—they host more than 67 group training sessions per week, with options ranging from yoga to indoor cycling. That way, clients can get in shape using whatever means work best for them. Some of the eclectic classes have zero impact on joints, too—specifically the ones in the on-site pool. These include 45-minute water cardio classes and versatile aqua aerobics sessions, which are ideal for athletes with arthritis and other special needs. The most completely flexible workouts at the gym, however, are the personal training sessions. The one-on-one workouts are designed purely around the client's goals, whether she wants to lose weight or grow strong enough to carry her favorite dumbbell home with her.
Invented in 1999 by fitness instructor Tim Ganley, KaYoga combines two invigorating workouts with beautiful scenery and adventure. KaYoga students embark on a three-hour trip, starting when they slide into a Tim Ganley kayak, then paddle it from Ft. Desoto to one of the pristine nearby barrier islands for an hour of yoga on the beach, which is preferable to yoga in a tar pit. Called "an inspired fusion of pastimes" by the Times of London, KaYoga is as invigorating spiritually as it is physically. On the kayak journey, it's not unusual to encounter dolphins, an occasional manatee, other sea creatures, and celebrities who are preparing for their roles as talking kelp.
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.
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.
The certified yoga instructors at Nava Yoga Studio guide students down a winding, bending path toward better health and peace of mind. The studio offers a wealth of class types, from hot yoga in a room heated to 90 degrees to gentle yoga, an excellent choice for beginners. See their schedule for more information.