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.
The gym can be an intimidating place for unexperienced exercisers, which is why Better Bodies introduced its Healthy Start training program. During the initial session, the staff uses a computer program called the Virtual Fitness Planner to reveal basic biometrics and calculate the likelihood of health risks such as type-2 diabetes. Once you're informed, you can take action by signing up for a personal-training session, attending a group-fitness class, or lifting on
the fitness floor's Hammer Strength machines. For busy parents or particularly ripped nannies, Better Bodies also provides complimentary childcare services for members.
If variety can spice up life in general, Inhale Exhale Studio's owner Hao Ly figures it's also a great way to keep exercising interesting. She, and her 20-plus teachers, leads a regimen of more than 50 group fitness classes held across all seven days of the week. Students might show up on Sunday and shape glutes in a barre-based fitness class or drop in on Monday to sweat during warm Vinyasa flow yoga lead by Hao herself. Other days feature similar options, as well as multiple forms of Pilates, boot camps, and even the occasional spinning class. To help fend off soreness and aches, Hao says the studio offers Thai bodywork, an assisted form of stretching with many similarities to yoga.
Equipment: Pilates Reformer apparatus, RealRyder bikes
Students should bring: hot yoga towel, bottle of water, yoga mat, spin shoes, hand towel
Average class length: 60-90 minutes
Number of Staff: 11?25
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
When Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he imagined a much-coveted golden ticket that granted access to myriad wonders and unveiled the inner workings of an entire industry. MetaBody created a real-life version of that ticket with the MetaBody Yoga & Fitness Pass, though it applies to fitness instead of candy. The pass grants access not to a single gym but to classes at a variety of local studios, specializing in everything from yoga to boot camp. With the freedom to move from location to location, students can sample different regimens, instructors, and styles of exercise to cobble together a program that fits their needs and goals. MetaBody's nutritionists supplement class packages by coaching clients in healthy eating, recipe cooking, and speed-reading nutrition-fact labels.
Eastside Wellness Connections’ studios offer a range of core-strengthening workouts. Stationary bikes form rows inside one room for spinning classes led by a certified instructor. Laminate floors provide the stomping grounds for yoga classes, where students on mats bend, twist, and somersault their way into a series of poses. And Pilates students use mats and reformer machines to build long, lean muscles.
Some athletes want to focus on endurance. Others want to unlock their competitive spirit. Still others hope to get their chakra energy flowing. At Cycle Bar, there's a spinning class for all those goals and more, each with its own light show and music. It's not just any music, either. Class playlists are high-octane, carefully-curated mixes of top 40 hits and indie tracks, starring artists from Iggy Azalea to Phantogram.
Regardless of theme and tunes, all sessions have one key thing in common: high-tech stationary bikes, which the Cycle Bar team dubs "intelligent." While not quite self-aware enough to be vain about their handlebars' symmetry, the cycles do store each athlete's workout stats, allowing for long-term fitness tracking.