A private, women-only gym, American Woman Fitness Center encompasses workout warriors with strength and conditioning equipment. There’s also fun fitness technology such as the Jump-Q, a semicircle of steps where members can compete against their own time or each other. For boxing and kickboxing, there’s the score-keeping 3 Kick that lights up areas to be kicked and punched. Rounding out the trio of workout toys is Heavy Ball, which challenges exercisers to maneuver and move medicine balls into a series of lit-up slots while being timed. American Woman Fitness also takes surveys from their members to customize fitness classes to their desires.
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.
The ocean's ebb and flow guides yogis toward inner peace during Beach Yoga Pinellas's outdoor classes, where fresh air and Hatha poses dissolve stress naturally. Throughout the classes, downward-facing dogs scallop the sand as clouds drift across the horizon, tickling the sun and demanding the moon's lunch money. Suitable for beginners, classes are designed with basic poses that can be modified for different levels of fitness and skill. Instead of the typical yoga mats or magic carpets, students reach tranquility atop beach towels during Ashtanga-style sequences that synchronize deep breaths with graceful stretches, easing tension and increasing the body's range of motion. To bolster strength and balance, teachers pepper the routines with core-toning exercises and lengthy Iyengar poses that emphasize proper alignment.
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.