Before becoming owner and head trainer at Sityodtong Muay Thai Academy, Mark DellaGrotte spent a decade in Thailand, training under muay thai guru Kru Yodtong and competing in high-profile bouts. His experience transformed him into a formidable muay thai kickboxer, earning him spots on several TV shows including Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Countdown. However, it also made him an expert ambassador for Thai-style boxing. Today, Mark and his team of instructors foster fight-ready fitness with classes in muay thai, Brazilian jujitsu, mixed martial arts, and boxing.
There are more black belts in Mass BJJ's Acton and Arlington studios than even the biggest of Johnny Cash's walk-in closets. Though in this case, they're tied around the waists of expert martial arts trainers, who teach the finer points of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to both kids and adults. This particular martial art form focuses on getting an opponent to the ground, where size doesn't matter and proper fighting technique reigns supreme.
While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu inspired Mass BJJ's name, it isn't the only discipline taught atop their red padded floors. In fact, the instructors encourage students to mix different classes to get a well-rounded martial arts education. To that end, they lead kick-boxing, MMA, and general strength-conditioning classes.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
With locations spanning the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, iLoveKickboxing.com has trimmed the waistlines of thousands of members while bolstering their confidence levels with engaging and varied total-body workouts. The program blends kickboxing techniques into a fat-burning, muscle-toning, and endurance-enhancing regimen. Limbs warm up with a quick jog before taking down imaginary opponents with a set of practice kicks and punches to drive home proper technique. The pummeling then switches to the one of many freestanding heavy bags, and incorporates ducking and weaving to boost heart rates. Teamwork drills help members tone up while cultivating camaraderie, which could lead to a partnership inspiring future buddy-cop-movie sensations.
More than three decades have passed since head instructor Bobby Giordano founded American Martial Arts Center. Giordano spent that time earning not one, but five black belts, and learning the ropes of muay thai and jeet kune do. The former bodyguard spreads his expertise to the masses through private martial-arts classes and enlists a staff of talented instructors to amplify the effect. Together they expound practical self-defense techniques designed to preempt attacks in the ring, on the streets, and in grocery-store aisles the day before Thanksgiving. Teachers whip students into shape during mixed-martial-arts, muay thai, Brazilian jujitsu, and kickboxing classes, which are all practiced in a fun, safe environment.
Kids and teens warrant their own kid-friendly branch of the business. Whereas adult classes aim for fitness and skill, the kids’ sessions emphasize values such as self-confidence and self-discipline, which come in handy when betting a punching bag that you won’t punch it.
On its website, Redline Fight Sports boasts that it is not a typical, low-intensity health club. Rather, it is a 5,000-square-foot facility designed to train fighters and fitness enthusiasts who want to train like fighters but do not want to interact with large slabs of meat. Its coaches—most fighters themselves—preach purposeful and practical training, where natural movements replace rote exercises to help boost strength, speed, flexibility, and stamina. For example, instead of sitting at a bicep-curl machine, a student in the popular Fighter-Fit class may slug an uppercut bag or whip into a teardrop knee bag. This choreography of punches and kicks takes place in the training area, where heavy bags and lightweight striking bags hang, some on a custom, 40-foot rail system that slides them to and fro. In a back cage room, grapplers can train over fully matted floors and walls, even practicing throws on a crash mat.
A regulation-sized sparring ring is available for dedicated boxing training, and free weights work to boost strength capacity. An air exchanger circulates fresh oxygen into the gym, which also rents towels for its fighters in training.