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.
Brit Body Work incorporates the essences of Thai yoga or modern Hula-Hooping into tension-defying massages and calorie-conquering fitness classes. During Thai Yoga Body Work sessions, clients arrive dressed in athletic garb or as their favorite team mascots, lie down on yoga mats, and indulge in 90 minutes of therapeutic stretching and joint mobilization. Based upon Ayurvedic principles, sessions blend the limbering motions of yoga with acupressure, aromatherapy, and energy-point stimulation.
After fighting her way back to a size four following the birth of her third child, Debi Condon earned her personal-training-and-nutrition certification and founded Evolution Fitness. Debi and her crew lead mostly female groups of all ages and fitness levels through indoor and outdoor boot camps, TRX-suspension classes and personal-training sessions. Interval routines leverage mats, free weights, and nearby playground equipment to build up endurance against fatigue and cooties. With an emphasis on supportive motivation rather than drill-sergeant tactics or endless scrimmages against fast-food mascots, trainers strive to build accountability among their students through friendships and unlimited email support.
It’s said that the human mind has problems visualizing large numbers. So it might be hard to conjure an image of the 700,000 athletes Athletic Republic Clifton Park has trained in their 22-year history. Or even the 2,500 of their students who went on to compete professionally. Instead, it's probably easier to think about the proprietary equipment that fills Athletic Republic’s red-walled gym. There's the super treadmill, which reaches speeds of 28 mph in less than three seconds and inclines up to 40 degrees. There’s a hockey treadmill that angles blades up a slope, boosting skaters' power and agility. And there are conditioning cords that add resistance to common moves from many sports, including baseball, golf, and soccer.
This innovative approach to athletic training has its roots in John Frappier’s time with the US National Team during the 1986 Goodwill Games. After losing repeatedly to the Soviet Union athletes, he discovered the need to improve his team’s training methods, including the machines they worked out on. The technology he developed is still used by Athletic Republic’s certified trainers in group camps and classes, one-on-one training sessions, and carefully synchronized treadmill dances.
Former college-football player Michael Reeves draws on his years of training and a degree in physical education as president of and a personal trainer at Top Form, a gym and field house. Whether training teams of young athletes or adults looking to get into shape, he blends his academic and practical experience to leave clients with a mental cache of exercises and routines. During personal-training sessions for individuals or groups, Reeves’ cadre of instructors uses muscle-isolating equipment such as stability balls, free weights, and medicine balls to shape cores or kick off impromptu games of dodge ball. On the artificial turf of an indoor field, athletes perform functional-movement drills while pulling weight sleds.
Reeves' wife and the gym’s vice president, Jen, leads mothers with newborns and toddlers through yoga-inspired workout classes. Little ones lie down or break dance on mats during the stretch and light-weight session as parents and progeny bond.
Corey House founded F.I.T. Boot Camps to help people get in shape with effective workouts bolstered by nutritional support. To come up with fun, high-intensity boot-camp routines, the staff pored over research and analyzed training formats aimed at burning fat and building muscles. They've seen the results time after time as boot camp members of every shape and athletic ability shed pounds, boost their health, and fare better at family log-tosses. Because the boot camps are indoors, the staff leads them continuously throughout the year, rather than putting members on hold during breaks between sessions or taking the winter off. They help map out smart food choices with nutritious meal planning, and offer private coaching to help members make the most of their workouts.