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Smash Gyms' list of instructors reads like a classified roster for some kind of elite instructor squad. The kickboxing instructor, Sam "The Ram" Spengler beats people insensate as a professional MMA fighter when he's not teaching junior-high students. Michael Jen, a third-degree black belt, engineered his own method of teaching Brazilian jujitsu after practicing the graceful art for 20 years.

What they share is a love of teaching. Jen draws on his wealth of experience studying under renowned teachers such as Roy Harris and Joe Moreira to impart his wisdom and high kicks to students. "The Ram" leads upbeat, fun kickboxing classes to help pupils reach their fitness goals, such as losing weight or being able to roundhouse kick the tempting ice cream offered to them.

1239 Reamwood Ave
Sunnyvale,
CA
US

After an eye injury took boxing and martial-arts champion Eddie Croft out of the ring, he set himself a new goal: becoming the first person to train a boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts champion. Having already trained a world kickboxing champion and five San Francisco Golden Gloves winners, he is well on his way.

Croft plies his trade at B Street Boxing, where his team of instructors teaches professionals and amateurs the arts of boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, Brazilian jiujitsu, and tae kwon do. In the red, white, and blue ring of B Street Boxing’s gym, students jab and spar, practice their skills on punching bags, or check their form in a mirrored wall. Conditioning and boot-camp sessions also keep students from all backgrounds fit while imparting dedication, discipline, and the desire to wear boxing gloves even in the shower.

223 S B St
San Mateo,
CA
US

Helmed by a staff of black belts, MMA fighters, wrestlers, and physical-education experts, Smash Gyms helps its clients perfect their fitness routine at two San Jose?area locations. Guests can learn self-defense techniques and combat moves as they sculpt their bodies during jujitsu or kickboxing classes, or take a more conventional approach with kettlebell and boot-camp sessions. Smash Gyms' fitness gurus also offer training classes for children in disciplines such as wrestling and Brazilian jujitsu.

2268 Quimby Rd
SAN JOSE,
CA
US

Black and red hues permeate Elite Training Center's sprawling fitness emporium, which is outfitted with heavy bags and a full-size boxing ring that help guests torch calories and quicken jabs. A seasoned slew of instructors and ex-MMA trainers teaches the lethargy-banishing classes, scheduled six days a week. Fitness classes such as Pedal and Pump?a spinning and weightlifting combination?and Zumba?a cardio-heavy dance-fitness workout set to Latin-inspired tunes?sculpt bodies while increasing your endurance. Specialized programs, such as boxing and mixed martial arts, equip adults and kids with the skills necessary to take down opponents. They hone their abilities on rows of heavy bags that dangle from chains and wait for tough-love uppercuts and intermittent tender hugs, swaying silently until their true love's punch sets them free from a wicked boxing promoter's curse.

9110 Alcosta Boulevard
San Ramon,
CA
US

Voted Best Gym in the Bay Area 2011 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, World Gym San Francisco is home to plentiful cardio and weight machines, group fitness classes, and chiropractic care facilities. After receiving a towel in the sea foam-green lobby, guests set foot in one of the gym's spacious exercise rooms to stretch on mats while waiting for exercise balls to hatch into personal trainers. Inside cardio rooms equipped with flat screen TVs, guests can catch up on news while their hearts catch up on skipped beats.

Steam rooms and dry saunas relax bodies tuckered from group classes such as boxing, spin, and yoga. A cafe vends fresh smoothies approved by the gym's nutrition programs, and a tanning bed bronzes newly toned physiques.

290 De Haro St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Casual fitness enthusiasts and dedicated martial arts practitioners can all find a place at Gym 445. When founding the studio, owners and instructors Kru Edgerton Brown and Bebe Etzler chose to create a setting that catered to beginners as well as advanced students, providing them with a place to hone their self-defense skills and learn the mixed martial arts techniques needed to safely subdue an unarmed mannequin. In addition to Thai kickboxing and conditioning classes, the experienced trainers also help people master jiu jitsu and offer kids' kickboxing classes so the whole family can get a challenging, full-body workout.

445 Judah St
San Francisco,
CA
US