As they enter the training at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
For more than 30 years, the senseis behind Martial Arts America have filled the minds and fists of students as young as 4 years old through adulthood with the focus, discipline, and confidence that comes from studying self-defense. The instructors lead five martial-arts forms—tae kwon do, eskrima, jujitsu, krav maga, and CDT training, which stands for compliance, direction, and takedown—helping patrons strengthen their bodies and minds. This multidimensional program trains students in defensive tactics such as strikes, grappling, throws, rolls, and using fighting sticks to protect innocent civilians from rogue baseball-pitching machines.
Treadmills, step classes, and free weights were making Joy Poulsen feel boxed in at the gym. She wanted a fun, up-tempo workout in the fresh air—that's why she created Inspire Fitness Boot Camps. Joy and her fellow coaches lead women in workouts that never let campers stop moving, for fear they'll freeze that way. An emphasis on exercises that emulate real-life movement means bodies can fall into the workout naturally, which makes it both safe and effective.
Hot Box Yoga's cadre of yogis, some of whom have earned their 200-hour certification or spent time learning the art in Asia, helps students foster emotional poise and physical strength. Instructors guide their charges through a schedule packed with yoga styles, including core-forging Ashtanga and time-tested Hatha. Within the studio's 2,200 square feet of stretching space, hot yoga sessions usher toxins out of the body by harnessing the flexibility-boosting powers of warmth in the sun-soaked studio. Those gestating tiny humans can build strength, flexibility, and bottle-juggling skills through gentle prenatal yoga classes.
Planet Fitness' massive, brightly colored edifices teem with aerobic, strength-training, tanning, and massage options, tailored to suit burgeoning buffs of all ages and abilities. After an intense muscle pummeling on the extensive selection of strength-training equipment and free weights, valiant athletes and masochistic vampires alike may bask in the unlimited artificial sunshine of the gym's tanning booths. Meanwhile, shiatsu massage chairs stand at the ready, twiddling soothing robot thumbs and waiting to coax tension from tired tendons.
Inside True Fight Club, many students learn to double their number of striking limbs: muay thai kickboxing, colloquially known as "the art of eight limbs," trains fighters to move beyond arms and legs to utilize their hands, elbows, shins, and knees to battle opponents. The gym prioritizes safety above all else during its 60-minute classes, and so equips sparring pairs with protective pads. Accomplished instructors are also on hand to teach classes in Brazilian jiu jitsu, which emphasizes grappling and bringing a foe down to the mat.
Alternatively, boxing classes cover footwork and maneuvers for offensive and defensive strategies. In addition to practical work, each session includes a workout component with bodyweight exercises that is designed to increase overall strength and prepare contenders for sudden-death sit-up contests in the ring. Regardless of their specialty, the instructors cater their lessons to suit all experience levels and ages. Their after-school programs guide children as young as 5 through self-defense routines, as well as building confidence, fitness, and a sense of discipline. Likewise, adult programs tone physiques and impart poise, whether pupils are seasoned competitors or first-timers.