When it comes to martial arts, Krav Defense founder and head instructor Anthony Santopadre has done it all. He began studying karate and judo 25 years ago, then earned his first and second black belts in the art of jujitsu. After 10 years of training, Santopadre decided to expand his horizons and belt collection yet again, studying for and receiving his third black belt in kung fu.
It was during his kung fu education that Santopadre discovered krav maga. The instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios appealed to Santopadre, so he immersed himself in the discipline and became a certified level-three instructor through the Krav Maga Security Federation in Israel. He shares his ability to disable assailants and wrestle nuts away from squirrels in a variety of classes, including fitness-focused cardio sessions and ground-fighting classes that focus on takedowns and submissions. The techniques of krav maga are tools for self-defense that can be effectively carried out by men, women, and children.
When students kick into one of the heavy bags dangling over Alpha Omega MMA's 20,000-square-foot training facility, they're following the same path trod by the gym's crew of professional and amateur fighters. A quintet of instructors trains clients in everything from the graceful takedowns and joint locks of Brazilian jiujitsu to the devastating short-range knee and elbow strikes of muay thai. They divide class groups up by student expertise, providing a venue for the casual exerciser to seek some conditioning and for aspiring fighters to hone their skills.
In addition to nurturing martial artistry, the staff also bends bodies with yoga and Pilates, restores energy with a full-service juice bar, and immediately puts the calories to good use in spinning classes. Kids leap into the fray with self-defense classes that center around a bullying-prevention curriculum, teaching tykes to stand up for themselves without resorting to violence unless it's absolutely necessary or limited to drop-kicking an imaginary friend into the sun to prove a point.
At Adel's International Karate Center, Sensei Adel Elbehiry oversees classes ranging from karate and Brazilian jujitsu to kids' martial arts. For those seeking to get in shape fast, cardio kickboxing courses teach self-defense skills while providing an invigorating workout that incorporates intervals and resistance training.
Bikram Yoga Shelton's certified instructors lead 90-minute classes that take place within a sultry practice space with 58% humidity and temperatures that reach as high as 103 degrees. In the therapeutic heat, they help students of all abilities achieve deeper, safer stretches and detoxifying perspiration. They walk their pupils through two breathing exercises and a powerful sequence of 26 standing and seated poses in each class to challenge muscles more effectively than bench-pressing a chakra. Each posture helps unleash torrents of oxygenating circulation throughout the body, promoting healthy organ function as the sustained stretches bolster stamina and flexibility. After class, students can rinse themselves in the onsite showers and retrieve any restless spirit animals they stashed in the studio's lockers.
As fitness enthusiasts stroll into Kayo Boxing's gym, they’ll see red heavy bags rocking with the force of kicks and punches, groups of people doing knuckle pushups or jumping rope, and a ring at the back occupied by boxers trading jabs. The scene is welcoming, but intense—and that's exactly how the USA Boxing–certified coaches intend it.
New guests can take advantage of classes intended for nonfighters, including group training sessions that help attendees get fit like a boxer—burning up to 1,000 calories per class. Like fighters, class participants execute footwork and reflex drills, and perfect their hand-eye coordination at the speed bag. For the competitive boxer or kickboxer, the center offers one-on-one training that incorporates modern boxing skills and techniques while building up strength, stamina, and agility. The instructors work with all ages and body types: they train kids by mixing sports conditioning with boxing and kickboxing to instill confidence and discipline while teaching self-defense techniques.
The brown- and black-belt instructors at Gracie Barra believe that the physical and mental strengths you practice inside their walls can translate to life outside their walls. Clients learn how to deal with stress and interpersonal issues, and how to effectively use constructive thinking. The center helps practitioners achieve their goals based on how much they put into their personal development. For adults or children looking to lose weight, boost self-esteem, or learn self-defense, they can enroll in a future-champions, a women’s, a fundamentals, or an advanced program.