Members of Olympic Athletic Club strengthen their muscles in a building where weary nineteenth-century travelers used to rest theirs. The historical former hotel still exudes old-fashioned glamour, from the theater-like marquee and a clock designed by renowned neon artist Roger Legerano to the interior's leather furniture and exposed brick walls. A tour of the inside of the club also reveals why it was named Best Workout Venue in 2009 by the Ballard News-Tribune and Best Health Club in 2012 by Seattle Magazine.
In addition to rows of cardio machines with personal-viewing screens, visitors catch a glimpse of group classes that range from meditative tai chi to high-intensity boot-camp workouts. Children in the Kids Korner can entertain themselves by calculating the number of calories in an invisible friend's lunch while their parents swim laps in the pool or play a game on the basketball and racquetball courts.
It's been more than three decades since Andrew Drake rode his first wave, but his passion for surfing stays strong. Washington Surf Academy is the embodiment of his passion and has grown to include instruction not just for surfing but for paddleboards as well. Unlike a gingerbread man's enemies, Mr. Drake's classes don't take a cookie-cutter approach. "Every person is a unique case," he says. The diversity of his clientele is one of the things Mr. Drake finds most rewarding. "Some people will have huge fears, and it is nice to see them get over them. This one time, this lady was freaking out, but I talked her into it, and she loved it so much that she bought a board from us on the first day."
By helping them to float out of their comfort zones, Mr. Drake and his team open people up to the hidden world off Seattle's coast. With snow-capped peaks in the distance, surfers can conquer waves and paddleboarders can float beneath bald eagles flying to their next college history lecture.
Amber Tande and Colin Patterson—the brains behind the vegetarian restaurant Sutra—also pour their passion for healthy living into their bhakti-style studio, Sutra Yoga and Wellness Center. They make it easy for students to join them, too, since their seven-day-a-week schedule consists of more than 20 classes in three yoga styles: Surya yoga, a heated yoga class that focuses on strengthening the core; Prana Vinyasa, a flow yoga class that incorporates chants and breath work; and gentle flow stress reduction, which is just a bunch of people smashing a junked gramophone with hammers. Students can also join in mantra-and-vocal-toning sessions—evening classes designed to bring peace to the mind and spirit—or opt for Swedish massages or myofascial-release sessions with resident therapist Sarah Wottlin. Sutra offers all-ages childcare during certain classes and even hosts events such as monthly organic dinner parties at Sutra restaurant.
Fuerte means "strong" in Spanish, and if anyone knows the strength required to stay fit, it's Fuerte Fitness owner Adriana Medina. Having completed an impressive transformation herself, Adriana founded Fuerte as a way to reinvigorate a dedication to health and fitness in others.
A brightly lit, brightly colored facility, Fuerte separates itself from big-box gyms with its friendly, intimidation-free vibe. But make no mistake: the focus here is on fitness, as evidenced by the gym's army of cardio machines, weights, and cross-training equipment, including heavy bags and agility boxes. Fuerte also hosts a rotation of more than 10 fitness classes, plus other events, such as hiking trips, cooking classes, and outings at sporting events so members can get to know each other face-to-face instead of grunting their hobbies between every rep.
For nearly ten years, Community Fitness?voted Best Fitness Club in Seattle magazine's 2014 Readers' Choice Poll?has been motivated by the vision of people striving toward goals together while having fun enjoying music and movement. Lifelong dancers teach barre classes, pharmacists-cum-personal-trainers guide yoga sessions, and CrossFit?trained mothers of three lead BodyPump workouts.
Community Fitness' approach is balanced across three different studios, each with its own focus and to-the-point name, that combine to offer more than 100 classes per week. The Play studio offers movement and dance classes, the Power studio revolves around strength training, and the Flow studio takes a mind-body approach with gentler exercises such as yoga. Each studio creates a bright space equipped with sprung floors and high-tech light and sound.
Things are always looking up at Seattle Bouldering Project, a south city climbing gym where both indoor and outdoor rock climbers enjoy the challenging ascents. The space offers typical bouldering (rock climbing without harnesses or ropes, using only special climbing shoes and techniques to ascend) courses on any of their multi-level artificial climbing walls, plus bouldering classes for all skill levels. Seattle Bouldering Project focuses on climbers aged four to adult, with special times and programs for the little ones, plus all of the necessary safety precautions. Occasional climbers can buy a day pass for use of the entire sprawling facility, while avid climbers have a choice of membership levels. There are climbing shoes and crash pads for rent at the gym, and instructors also teach the occasional yoga and fitness class.