Fitness World West has been trimming Iowa's waistlines since 1986. Its three modern, fully equipped facilities hold more than 75 weekly fitness classes, an aquatic program accredited by the Arthritis Foundation, and advanced strength equipment from Hammer, Cybex, and Paramount. During the diverse lineup of fitness classes, the gym's trainers pump up their students' motivation with rigorous, varying workouts that include Zumba, yoga, cross training, and Greco-Roman spelling bees. For one-on-one instruction, personal trainers work with clients to design fitness plans that optimize results, taking advantage of the center’s cushioned track and the cardio theater's elliptical machines, cross trainers, bikes, and treadmills. When working out solo, clients can set brainwaves to one of 80 channels broadcasting from the cardio machines' personal flat-screen TVs, jogging or biking along to motivational music videos, athletic competitions, or home-shopping auctions. The gym’s selection of Olympic free weights stands ready to fatigue muscles before the whirlpool, sauna, or steam room relieves and relaxes deep-rooted aches.
In addition to increasing clients’ physical prowess, Fitness World West's knowledgeable staff help overhaul the unhealthy habits of their clients through computerized fitness assessments and personalized nutrition consultations. And, during workouts, they welcome parents to entrust their children to the kids' gym and nursery, where an eagle-eyed staff member watches over little ones as they romp around or lead troops of G.I. Joe figurines in taxing pushup regimens.
Green Yoga House offers prospective pretzels an abundance of stretch sessions, from pre- and post-natal to hot Vinyasa, inside its two spacious studios in Clive and West Des Moines, as well as lunchtime yoga classes in the skywalk on Grand Avenue. Owner Lily Hou has been practicing yoga for 14 years and teaching since 2003, and was voted the Best Yoga Instructor in Des Moines by Cityview in 2009. Learn bendy basics at the West Des Moines location, mastering foundational poses, breathing techniques, and meditation practices. Build body and mind muscle at the Clive location by bringing hand weights to the Yoga with Weights class, designed to increase strength and endurance while generating energy flow, improving balance, and moisturizing parched yoga mats.
Kris Larrison has been teaching fitness classes for more than 20 years, in addition to being an avid runner. "After years of running, and running competitively, your body starts breaking down a little bit," she says. "Yoga was good for me to get into."
And though there were only a few yoga studios in the area, there wasn't a single hot-yoga studio around—so she opened the first. Classes started out in the basement of a building, and often there were only one or two people. Kris didn't mind; she was doing it for fun. But, as she says, "word got out" and the business grew. As classes swelled to 30 people packed into the small space, she decided to open a larger storefront studio.
Today, she has a crew of certified instructors who lead classes in the hot-yoga studio, which runs from 95 to 104 degrees. Why the heat? In addition to increasing flexibility, helping detoxify the body through sweat, and helping home-brought dragon eggs to hatch, heat increases yoga's cardiovascular benefits. "You get that oxygen into the blood a lot better with the heat," Kris says. In addition to hot yoga, Kris has a studio dedicated to hot barre classes. Using a ballet barre to help everyone go higher and lower, classes do motions such as lunges and squats. The heat, she says, "kicks it up a little bit."
For Kris, the most rewarding thing has been seeing her studio foster relationships; because it's more of a boutique studio, rather than a large health club, people get to know one another. "It's very rewarding to see people come in after a year or so of practicing, and see how much they've accomplished, and how much stronger they are," she says.
Led by more than 1,000 wellness experts at locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, the more than 30,000 members of Prairie Life Fitness have discovered why the company slogan is "Fitness for the Entire Family." The certified trainers and instructors cater to exercisers of various ages and abilities, all within an upscale, welcoming atmosphere. Kids take advantage of engaging childcare activities and youth programs, including swimming lessons, martial arts, and story time. Meanwhile, parents can workout on the latest equipment, including stationary cycles and Pilates machines. Guests can also relax with amenities such as massage therapy, tanning beds, and a whirlpool powered by wholesale bags of Pop Rocks.
Cycle Down Dawg indoor cycling studio guides groups through heart-pumping workouts set to beat-dropping music with videos and lighting. The studio also offers TRX strength-building classes and yoga sessions for all levels. Instructors also lead additional high-impact workouts during certain specialty classes, like the popular total-body workouts cycle-TRX and cycle-yoga, which help clients stay tone and fit while having fun.