As a child, Aaron Pollard had access to one of the largest outdoor playgrounds in the world: the beaches of Hawaii. But he didn't spend much time messing around in the sand. His father taught him to surf his first wave at the age of 6 and the ocean has been part of his life ever since. Whether life guarding, surfing, or playing competitive water polo, he found more and more ways to occupy his time in the water—especially once he moved to Florida and teamed up with Karla Gore. She brought a similar love of watersports, which she discovered during her work as a marine biologist. Together, the two founded Surfit USA.
On a typical day, you can find them out with standup paddleboarders in group or private classes. Instructors lead fitness bootcamps on the beach as well as floating yoga classes and SUP classes for older athletes. In the summer, the beaches transform into a classroom for SURFit USA's kids' summer camps, which incorporate lessons in water sports and marine biology.
Though now spread over the United States, Crunch Gym started in a basement-level aerobics studio in New York City. Despite the humble location, the gym's founders aspired to foster a workout environment that would keep members exercising through entertainment and not shouting from drill-sergeant-like trainers. Their idea was to host fitness classes with offbeat touches, including hip-hop aerobics featuring a live rapper and coed action wrestling.
Twenty years later, Crunch Gym's fitness classes still stray from the beaten path. Body Web with TRX sessions suspend members from a pillar, where they complete gravity-defying maneuvers with help from strong resistance ropes. In Bosu Bootcamp, every exercise is completed on an apparatus that is part balance ball, part core board, and fully endorsed by circus seals nationwide.
To facilitate its signature 10-minute workouts, 10 Minutes to Fitness employs a fleet of shiny Power Plate fitness machines. The machines help exercisers quickly build muscle through vibration, emitting rippling movements that cause up to 30–50 muscle contractions per second. These vibrations force muscles to work much harder than normal in a short amount of time, making basic stretches and strength-training exercises more effective than repeatedly lifting in-use laundry machines. The equipment is used during 10 Minutes to Fitness's group classes and one-on-one personal-training sessions. The facility also boasts two far-infrared saunas designed to help clients detoxify while slowly cooking frozen burritos.
Licensed Zumba instructor Beth Golden—who also holds certifications from the AFAA, Red Cross, and PADI—leads easy-to-follow dance routines inspired by Latin salsa, merengue, and tango moves. A soundtrack of high-energy tunes and rolling r’s keep students motivated as she helps them shimmy off pounds with or without the help of muscle-toning sticks. She regularly changes up her dance routines to prevent boredom and keep feet guessing. In addition to group classes in the studio, Beth hosts private Zumba parties, taking her portable speakers and headset to beaches, parks, offices, or clients' homes to liven up special events.
The Sara Dance Center’s 1,750-square-foot ballroom resounds with energetic music from a top-notch sound system as the floating wooden floor cushions the enthusiastic movements of students taking one of Kelly Atkins’s classes. Equipped with a Wellcoaches wellness-coaching certification and ACE personal-training certification, Kelly delights in creating healthy relationships between the mind and body, putting her 25 years of fitness experience to use leading workouts that boast a holistic, meditative bent. To offer students a unique, well-round approach to group exercise, she leads Nia, a low-impact, high cardio session that draw from martial arts, dance, and yoga. Kelly also helms the Bone Builder series, a seven-week class of her own design that combines weight training with core-building Pilates and meditation to strengthen the spine. Starting with the feet, the classes target and strengthen different chakras and muscle groups. Other classes include the Playshop Series, which focuses on experimental exercises and guided meditation, and the SEEDS Group Coaching Experience, which cultivates an intimate community of meditators to encourage active dialogue between the students and Kelly.
For Sean and Nikki Davis, the thought of missing a workout was unimaginable—that is, until they had kids. Three of them. Following the birth of the third, when their lifestyles had made the 180-degree revolution from active to inactive, they decided they needed to get back in shape. They started simple: exercising on their own at home using bodyweight routines such as lifting the mailman. After friends and neighbors took notice of the Davis' revamped figures, the Davis' started inviting them along for their workouts. When their house couldn't hold any more people, the duo took the leap and opened Davis Training. Today, at their fitness facility, they whip clients from across the fitness spectrum into shape during boot camp, kickboxing, and classes that train patrons for adventure races.