Visitors never have to wait in line to workout at Cardio Express—each of the six clubs boasts a ton of Cybex strength-training machinery, an arsenal of free weights, and more than 80 pieces of cardio equipment affixed with personal 15-inch television screens. Compassionate instructors imbue gym visits with a human element as well, leading classes such as Core Fusion, Total Tone circuit training, and spinning sessions at the Southington, Vernon, and Manchester locations. Each year, the staff members carry the same motivational energy they use in their studios to recruit members and friends for the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour. Cardio Express has raised a grand total of nearly $400,000, and it also acts as title sponsor for the 2012 benefit.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Muvement is as much a gym as it is a physical-fitness lab. Certified strength and conditioning specialist Michael Houle and Jill Houle, who holds a BS in nutritional science, team up to invest clients with practical workout regimens and an intimate knowledge of how the body works on a physiological level. Before new clients lift their first weight at the studio, a personal trainer consults with them about their exercise and health history and runs physical assessments and lab tests to identify potential obstacles related to the immune, digestive, hormonal, and detoxification systems. Next, Jill draws on her background as a professional nutritionist to recommend a diet suited to the client’s unique metabolism, and explains how the body breaks down calories and nutrients. Even their fitness regimens take a holistic approach. Whether in group or personal-training sessions, functional movements using resistance bands, TRX suspension, and kettlebells incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints into each exercise, building a physique more balanced than two eggs riding a seesaw during the spring equinox.
Women needn’t feel intimidated by anything—especially exercise, according to Kelly Kohler, the 17-year fitness instruction veteran who helms Totally Kickin’ Fitness. At this female-focused studio, ladies work out in small groups as a seasoned instructor demonstrates moves and doles out tips and encouragement. Students of all fitness levels are welcome, from brand-new exercisers to those who can outrun a cheetah while carrying a bag of rocks.
Classes range from kickboxing routines filled with punches and kicks to total-body workouts teeming with resistance bands and bodyweight exercises. To help women build confidence as they burn calories, Kelly leads sensual dance classes that pair sexy struts and pole-based maneuvers with elements of yoga, Pilates, and low-impact aerobics. These moves can also be taught in private or during fitness-themed parties complete with decorations, invitations, and a gift for the guest of honor.
The studio’s one-on-one programs revolve around custom workouts with a fitness trainer. Those trying to shed pounds in a healthy way can enroll in a custom weight-loss program filled with nutritional supplements, education, and more support than a corset made of get-well cards.
My Fit Mommy owner and director Mary Damato is passionate about giving moms a place to get fit while they spend quality time with their kids. A mother of three herself, she saw a need for a laid-back, mom-focused workout space, where moms could interact with other adults while still participating in an intense workout. Each outdoor, boot-camp-style class is led by a certified instructor and focuses on burning calories through circuit training and toning the body using small weights.
Bikram Yoga Glastonbury's band of yoga instructors guides students of all abilities through the 26-posture practice. Students begin the 90-minute workout with a deep-breathing exercise before moving into a sequence of standing and seated postures designed to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Balmy temperatures help students sink into deep stretches, eliminate harmful toxins from the body, and keep confrontational snowmen at bay. Though challenging, students of all experience and fitness levels can tailor the poses to meet their needs, with the idea that through dedicated practice, students may see a decrease in weight, improved sleep, and greater flexibility.