If Mother Nature could design a building, it might look something like The Yoga Factory. Sunlight and bird song filter through frosted-glass windows. Trees dapple the walls with shadows and breezes rustle their leaves as the humans inside the studio draw their own deep breaths. Experienced instructors siphon inspiration from this natural beauty, filling the space with enough low-toned chants to befriend even the shiest bullfrog. Under their guidance, yogis of all levels build strength and flexibility during alignment-focused Hatha and Vinyasa classes. The temperature rises to 88 degrees for Hot-Yasa sessions, loosening tight muscles as students practice back bends, arm balances, and inversions atop matted floors. To help yogis hold poses for extended periods of time, teachers may incorporate props such as blocks and blankets during calming restorative routines.
In addition to melting stress with yoga classes, The Yoga Factory helps exercisers torch calories with boot camps and Zumba cardio-dance parties. Upon request, personal trainers can tailor workouts to goals such as losing weight, increasing strength, or finally besting an overly aggressive boxing shadow.
Since 1990, Power Shack Fitness Centers have fostered a casual, low-stress ambiance at its four locations, eschewing the large crowds and intimidating vibes of many mainstream gyms. A retinue of nationally certified personal trainers is on hand to craft custom workout plans for members, acquainting them with the gym’s array of free weights, cardio machines, and functional training equipment. Group fitness classes are also led by nationally certified instructors. Offerings include barbell conditioning, yoga, spinning, dance, and power grunting. Depending on the location, you can also take advantage of tanning amenities or pick up nutritional supplements.
Not everyone is born an artist, but the folks at Spilling Color believe that anybody can be an artist. Their painting classes encourage each participant to sit back, grab a brush and a glass of wine, and unleash their inner artiste. Held at various venues—which range from bars to galleries—local artists lead students through the steps to create a finished masterpiece. Spilling Color also strives to give back to the community with the "We Give" program, which provides free art classes for teens on a one-to-one basis for each adult class purchased.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
After hanging up his gloves and hopping out of the ring, retired professional boxer Danny Campbell and his business partners opened the first Title Boxing Club in Kansas in 2008. The club’s boxing and kickboxing classes were such a hit that they opened two more locations, and in 2010, the first franchise location opened in Prairie Village, Kansas. Today, more than 100 nationwide locations house the same fitness classes and personal-training programs that earned the admiration of reporters from The Columbus Dispatch in 2012.
During each session, students tape up their hands and don gloves before aiming jabs, crosses, hooks, or kicks at evenly spaced bags as instructors lead them through a cardio workout designed to burn calories and build muscle. Training sessions also include conditioning with medicine balls, which are more effective at boosting health when lifted than when swallowed.
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed exclusively for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and manage arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help to manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottle to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lifting and lowering motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses pushing and pulling motions to develop toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
The coaching staff at D1 Sports Training refuses to discriminate between professional athletes and everyday exercisers. They scale the strength and cardio workouts of their group boot-camp classes and one-on-one intensive courses to individual abilities, bringing out the best in each student regardless of their workout history. The typical D1 gym houses modern indoor turf fields with adjoining weight rooms, giving instructors the space to invent expansive obstacle courses that may require students to lift tires or tug 747s. In both the boot-camp and Total Fit programs, coaches meet with students one-on-one to discuss athletic progress and find ways to improve further. Each facility also houses a sports therapy clinic, where expert therapists ease muscle injuries through rehabilitation programs and strength-restoring exercises. Many professional athletes implicitly endorse D1’s program by staking their claim in some of the company’s indoor exercise complexes; Peyton Manning, MLB athlete Chipper Jones, and quarterback Philip Rivers count themselves among facility co-owners.