Absolute Pilates?s instructors are far from old-school. Though they each boast extensive training in traditional Pilates?and teach classic mat classes?they focus largely on incorporating modern equipment into the ancient practice. Pilates Reformers, Towers, chairs, and even the barre are used during classes, often in combination with each other to optimize workouts and results. The equipment helps students of all levels maintain their balance and target dormant muscles, transforming standard Pilates into a more effective workout. But teachers still maintain the welcoming, personal environment long attributed to Pilates studios and grandma?s doomsday bunker.
Glowing neon-red-and-blue wall accents complement the staff members' bright attitudes at American Bodyworks gyms. They strive to make connections with each member, remembering their names and favorite prime numbers, as they guide them through rows of cardio equipment—each with an attached LCD TV screen—and strength-training machines affixed with illustrations on their use. Guests can work out in the daytime hours or swipe their membership key for nighttime access, pushing through free-weight reps while personal trainers sleep inside their resistance-band cocoons.
Source4 Fitness delivers comprehensive exercise programs and professional health and nutrition advice in a state-of-the-art facility. The two-month membership (a $29 value per month) includes access to boutique fitness facilities and enrollment in group fitness classes ranging from Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and boxkicking to Mom and Me, a joint class for mothers and children ages 2–4. A FitPro will guide eight 30-minute personal training sessions (a $30 value per class) that help clients achieve long-term health goals through custom exercise programs and nutritional consultation. Each 30-minute, tailor-made workout is designed to achieve Source4 Fitness' tenets—energize, inspire, rejuvenate, and improve—reaching well beyond the quick fix in an effort to bring about sustainable health improvement. A FitPro will also help members develop a customized nutrition plan (a $39 value), meeting twice per month to help shape an effective plan of attack and discuss which Muppet is the most lovable. These 20–30 minute sessions cover lifestyle issues and include weigh-ins, measurements, and supplement consultation.
Bodyplex Fitness boasts a 28,500-square-foot facility, equipped with group classes, modern equipment, and personal trainers to whip burgeoning muscle mavens into shape. Health-hunters can attend three selections from a schedule of more than 50 classes, slurp down a complimentary smoothie from the in-house bar, test out a bevy of Life Fitness and Precor cardio equipment, and train for spontaneous, t-shirt-tearing flex-offs in the free-weight area (a $44 value). Meanwhile enjoy body-pampering amenities such as a 30-minute massage (a $45 value) and unlimited 30-day access to the 200-watt tanning systems (a $33 value).
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
At Fusion Dance & Fitness Studio, experienced instructors help booty shakers harness the body-slimming power of boogie through a variety of dance routines. Zumba is a dynamic dance workout that combines Latin and international music with aerobic interval training and easy-to-follow dance steps. Keeping up with the instructor's fancy footwork will furrow brows, activating sweat glands and calorie Bunsen burners to sculpt and tone bodies. During a three-hour pole-dancing workshop, inversion experts teach athletes of all levels a tasteful striptease. The sexy moves and sensual choreography relieve insecurities and peel away stress as if it's a no-longer-relevant Baby on Board sign.