Brent Insco had already roundhouse-kicked his way to a black belt in karate, trained with boxers, and learned krav maga when a car crash laid him low. As part of his physical therapy, he soldiered on in his martial endeavors and began the decade-long process of becoming a Brazilian jujitsu master. That was in 2004, and to this day he still makes frequent sojourns to San Diego to study under the BJJ legends, Saulo and Xande Ribeiro, who themselves learned the art at Gracie Humaitá, established by the creator of BJJ, Hélio Gracie. At his own studio, Downriver Jiu Jitsu & Fitness, Insco teaches students of all ages the fighting form—a judo-like discipline founded on the principle that a small fighter can best a larger opponent, as in the tale of David and Goliath or the popular children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, It Will Destroy You. Insco’s trainers also lead fitness classes, such as Latin-inspired Zumba dance, boot camp, yoga, and Bruce Lee’s martial-arts system, jeet kune do, and work with clients one on two in semi-personal-training sessions.
Optimal results in a minimal time frame. That’s the goal of Nina—Sergeant Bootcamp himself. After a stint in the military, Nina returned to his true passion—fitness—and took up the reins at boot camp, where today he motivates clients of all fitness levels through indoor and outdoor workouts. Each 60-minute sweat session forgoes machinery and high-tech equipment for simple exercises, such as running, calisthenics, and weight training. Yet, Nina doesn’t let campers fall into any sort of routine; he changes up classes regularly to keep muscles guessing and clients from getting bored. Aimed at shredding body fat and toning physiques, each camp begins with a body-fat composition test so that clients can see their progress and achievements in numbers, rather than by whether or not they can fully conceal themselves behind a telephone pole.
Amid the kettlebells, sandbags, and medicine balls that pack its indoor fitness studio, Boot Camp Michigan hosts high-intensity workout sessions in the mornings and evenings throughout the week. Its imaginative routines draw from four essential fitness factors—cardio, resistance, core, and flexibility—and change from day to day to thwart fitness plateaus. The program’s exercises aim to reduce fat, build muscle, and diminish stress, and accompanying nutrition plans encourage healthy lifestyles and discourage unhealthy eating habits, such as shelling shrimp while trying to parallel park.
After Randy Woody lost his aunt and grandmother to diabetes and obesity, he became increasingly distressed about his own 320-pound frame. He began researching weight loss and strength training and set to work creating a healthier lifestyle for himself—all at the age of 13. Over the years he was able to whittle away 145 pounds, and eventually became a personal trainer, competitive bodybuilder, and member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He teamed up with Brenda Woody, a fitness trainer and motivational speaker, to start Michigan Women Boot Camp, a weight-loss program that has transformed the lives and bodies of more than 10,000 clients.
Six days a week, the indoor boot-camp sessions challenge students with a rotating lineup of light running, resistance training, obstacle courses, and core exercises. Like scaffolding that reads only transcendentalist literature, the environment is supportive, yet serious. The Woodys only expect campers to perform to their individual ability level, but they ask students to show up as often as five times a week to get real results. The approach must be working; the Woodys boast that approximately 85% of their members are repeat visitors.
Primetime Fitness's staff may consist of personal trainers and nutritionists, but they take their philosophical cue from postmen, delivering results 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cardio theater – with TVs blaring entertainment – and the strength training room remain perpetually ready to sculpt bodies. The on-site nutrition and supplement store stays open during normal business hours. Members can work up a sweat with mechanical assistance or under the watchful eye of a trainer in group fitness classes such as Zumba or TurboKick. The staff also supplement workouts with nutritional coaching for weight loss, which includes meal plans and weekly weigh-ins.
Unlike regular warehouses, with their shelves of boxes and closets full of forklift bones, The Workout Warehouse fills its spaces with a different kind of inventory: lost pounds, new goals, and personal records. And, unlike most gyms, this facility strictly offers classes, creating a communal environment that encourages exercisers to rally around their health-oriented objectives, as well as each other. Through contract-free memberships and drop-in capabilities, guests gain access to multiple classes daily, including spin, boot camp, Zumba, and boxing. Extra inspiration is never too far, as the facility holds frequent contests that add a hint of competition to workout routines.