When 9Round founder and IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion Shannon "The Cannon" Hudson isn't dominating combat rings across North American and Europe, he is taking care of his two children. It was with his kids in mind that the seasoned black belt crafted his signature workout¬—a challenging professional fighter's training regime compacted into a hectic, schedule-friendly 30 minutes.
Today, certified trainers in 9Round gyms across the nation lead students in Shannon's workout, guiding classes through its nine rounds of aerobic, anaerobic, and resistance-training exercises. Instructors vary the rounds each day, supplementing body-weight exercises with jump ropes, punching bags, and free-weights. Coaches also encourage diets of fruits and lean meats and counsel students against common dieting pitfalls, such as skipping breakfast or storing smoothie surplus in unmarked laundry-detergent bottles.
Ken Wozniak—or "Coach Ken," as he's known to members—founded Energize Zone Wellness Center to create a safe place for people to commit to nutrition and fitness. He says that changing his nutritional habits "gave me my life back, so it's something I wanted to share with the rest of the world."
He and a team of wellness coaches help patrons reach their goals through fitness classes, body-transformation weight-loss challenges, and nutrition sessions. When new members come in, the trainers assess their fitness status with complimentary wellness profiles, which contain custom health and nutrition information, such as how many calories and how much protein they should eat to maintain a healthy weight. The coaches follow up with regular assessments—which members can request whenever they'd like—that help them track their progress between sessions, whether they're seeing how much faster they can run a mile, how many more pushups they can do, or how many more Van Halen songs they can perform at turbo speed in one karaoke slot. In addition to nutritional coaching, group fitness classes, including boot camp, cardio kickboxing, and Zumba, keep bodies moving.
Ken says many of the club’s members are new to wellness or are at the ends of their ropes with other methods. "The people who come here are the people who don't want to go to the big gyms," he says. "We call this a safe haven for people who want to come here and get healthy." He credits their supportive atmosphere to the fact that he and the other coaches have similar histories to many of their clients; one of the coaches, for instance, dropped 90 pounds as a member before becoming a coach to help others do what she did. "We are people who have been there," Ken says.
At CrossFit 262, John Schmidt?an NCSA certified coach and former All-American wrestler?does the same exercises as a child or a senior citizen. That's because CrossFit varies its workouts by intensity, but not by skill level. During introductory CrossFit 101 sessions, John and the rest of the staff teach newcomers all of the prerequisite movements for classes, including deadlifts, squats, cleans, and rope-climbing. The gym also hosts CrossFit Unloaded classes, which utilize lighter weights and don't require the CrossFit 101 series as a prerequisite.
At Axiom Health & Fitness, wellness experts fortify everyday routines with exercise, house-made health foods, and relaxation. The scent of house-made granola fills the 5,500-square-foot facility, where calories melt faster than a snowman at a chili cook-off. Treadmills and elliptical machines dare visitors to sprint, glide, and climb toward fitness goals, and plate-loaded weight machines replaces fat with lean muscle. For a more intense, focused regimen, boot camps throw guests into the ring with functional-training tools such as sandbags, kettlebells, and weighted chains, and personal and group training helps with everyday obstacles so that clients can lift a child without pain, or outrun a rollerblading cheetah. The gym's fitness experts also work hand-in-hand with clients who want to lose weight, offering tips on how to eat healthier and increase energy levels.
The techniques that Lauren Birkel imparts to her trainers are the same ones she used on herself while preparing for and completing the rigorous Ironman World Championships in 2005 and 2011, as well as the France-held International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championships in 2007. With this history of achieving difficult goals, Birkel knows how to inspire students without commissioning a band of rabid coyotes to chase them while they run.
She and her many cotrainers use these thoroughly tested methods of motivation to push students toward healthier lives in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group training sessions. She decks out her indoor studios with all the necessary equipment for personal-training sessions and isn't afraid to lead all-outdoor boot-camp academies in the heat or rain.
Full of athletic energy, Jeremy Belter spent six years participating in NCAA basketball and baseball, eventually earning his certification in fitness, performance nutrition, and kettlebell athletics. Today, Jeremy captains his own fitness program with a team of trainers, composed of energetic boot-camp-style classes. The seasoned trainers welcome students of all sizes and skill levels, determined to slim down and build muscle while improving their overall health. The workouts are short and intense, favoring challenging exercises and functional equipment, such as kettlebells and resistance bands. Students also receive nutritional guidance—from lists of healthy vegetables to explanations of why you should never bite into a live snake, no matter how much it resembles a chain of sausage links.