Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
HulaFit's certified instructors tone bodies with up-tempo beats and fun, whirling hula-hoop workouts. The low-impact, motivational classes meet twice a week and are open to human gyroscopes of any level; a spinning sensei will happily give primers to visitors who've never hula hooped before. During the one-hour classes, pupils will tone their arms, abs, backs, and legs—lowering blood pressure and increasing metabolism along the way. Booty shakers who don't own a hula hoop may borrow one from the studio or craft one from a whale's monocle.
Bally's story can be traced back to the late 1930s, when a little-known pinball manufacturer in Chicago, Illinois, refined its factories to produce flight equipment for World War II. Ballyhoo's business diversified and boomed in the ‘50s, and within 40 years they became the largest owner and operator of fitness centers in the world. Though their size has ballooned, their mission remains the same: to help each of their clients achieve their ideal bodies through personal training, high-tech workout machines, and heart-pumping group classes. The gym's approach to fitness educates and introduces exercisers to workouts without a steep learning curve or mandatory speed dates with elliptical machines.
Not only a safe, encouraging environment for kids to be creative, KidzArt is also a place where anyone from age 2 to adult can build confidence and learn to see the world in a new way. With a variety of kids' classes, as well as painting and drawing for adults, artists of all ages can express themselves, explore new mediums, and bring out their inner Van Gogh by painting it a bouquet of blobby sunflowers.
At the Knowledge Network, experts in fields such as dance, spirituality, cooking, and writing teach a cornucopia of cultural, commercial, and life-skills classes with a flexible schedule of diverse classes held throughout the capital district. In Best Holiday Treats from Around the World on December 7 ($50 plus one nonperishable item for the Latham food bank), Chef Ric Orlando—champion of the Food Network’s Chopped—puts his signature spin on sizzling Hanukkah latkes, Kwanzaa peanut soup, the Italian feast of the seven fishes, and figgy pudding, taking holiday cooking far past the realm of microwave-cooked Peeps. Author and dream warrior Robert Moss imparts his synthesis of modern dreamwork and ancient shamanic practices in The Power of Active Dreaming on December 8 ($45), where students learn to solve problems, improve health, and spark creativity during nighttime reveries. Revisit bygone eras of hip hop with four Breakdancing classes ($45), in which students learn to spin, toprock, and perform basic floor routines under the guidance of instructor Turbeau, who has performed on MTV’s The Grind.
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.