Some gyms are cooler than others. And these workout spots are changing the game to create the ultimate exercise environment.
Face it — as we get bigger, faster, stronger, and more dynamic, our gym scenes need to grow with us. No, not GloboGym. We’re talking spots where tried-and-true meets cutting edge—true innovators—and you’re a real stick-in-the-mud if you’re not itchin’ for a workout.
Onnit struck gold with Earth-grown nutrients and science-backed supplements. But now they’ve got the equipment, food, fitness know-how, and something called The Onnit Academy to get you to “Total Human Optimization”. Using unconventional methods of exercise is the name of the game for the Academy and DeFranco’s Gym (they share a roof), pushing the limits of human health with custom workouts and tools (maces, clubs, sleds, sandbags), movements, and techniques. Note: A protein shake from Onnit Cafe and Smoothie Bar and cryotherapy at the end are a nice touch.
Mountain Tactical Institute in Jackson, Wyoming can prepare you for any mountain you need to climb (literally or figuratively). They specialize in training mountain athletes — meaning the backcountry skier, the boulderer, the ultramarathoner, and those whose JOB it is to contend with the mountain (also called an alpinist). Weighted vest lunges, rock walls, and wheelbarrows full of weight abound. And if you doubt their programming, just stop. They’re also a world-class training leader for military, law enforcement, and other tactical athletes.
Yes, indoor cycling is a killer workout, but sometimes it’s possible to hang back from the pack (especially if the music isn’t your jam). Well, you know what always motivates people? Peer pressure. Healthy peer pressure, of course (aka “a team”). And you WILL NOT want to let your squad down after one ride with team green, red, or blue at Swerve Fitness in NYC and Montauk, NY. The class will be split into three teams, you’ll pedal like the wind, and real-time collective stats will light up the scoreboard. Work hard — bragging rights are at stake.
You may have heard of something called a Megaformer. It’s the torturous machine at the heart of Lagree Fitness — an amped-up mash-up of Pilates and resistance training, created by Sebastien Lagree. But now the man has gone and outdone himself, creating a Supraformer. In LA’s Lagree Fitness Studio (the only spot with Supras), you only need 25 minutes on what looks like a personal Batmobile. You’ll slide, you’ll incline, you’ll tilt, you’ll sweat, you might cry… it’s a real journey.
MobilityWOD? Ring any bells? It’s just a fact: If your body doesn’t move right, you’re gonna have a bad time at CrossFit. No one knows that better than Kelly Starrett — DPT, a coach at San Francisco CrossFit, and the mastermind behind all the mobility talk. Here, what precedes and follows the exercises is just as important as the high-intensity WODs. And the results will be all around you: The athletes here are beasts. FYI: Their Adaptive Athletics program — WODs and training for those with physical disabilities — is all sorts of inspiring.
Be honest — you’ve become comfortable in your group exercise class (that’s bad…and boring). It’s time to rethink your workout routine. Enter NYC’s CITYROW and their signature CITYROW class. This high-intensity, low-impact sweat session uses the WaterRower to whip you into shape. Or try CITYROW FLOW — a row and Vinyasa yoga combo aimed at helping you match your breathing with your body’s movement. Just know that no matter which class you choose, you’re in for a sweat-drenched, calorie-burning, total body workout. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Think about it a moment: You don’t really see many overweight surfers. The sport’s pretty demanding of the body, and then there’s the added risk of sharks, reefs, and wipeouts. No, thanks. But now you can experience all that gnar in an unreal 45-minute workout. It’s called City Surf, and it’s making waves in Austin, Dallas, Denver, and New Orleans. You’ll hang ten for the entire workout aboard a surfboard [on dry land] that rocks and rolls like the ocean — meaning that you’re in for a challenging strength/balance/cardio board meeting before the board meeting.
City Fitness is making a name for themselves in Philadelphia, now repping five hubs throughout the city (the newest in Fishtown). If their squeaky-clean facilities and state-of-the-art equipment weren’t enough, they partner with MyZone technology — in-gym wearables that beam your stats to HD boards in real-time while you workout. The classes? Oh, lawwwd the classes. Shred will have you dead. Hard Core will do just that. And WOAR? It stands for Weapons of Ass Reduction.
So you want to go run with the animals at the Brooklyn Zoo. Off to the Tiger Mountain exhibit? Ah, no. That would be the Bronx Zoo. We’re talking about freerunning with the wild, crazy-fit parkour-ers at NYC’s 10,000 sq. ft. house of movement (it should be on your bucket list).** INTERNAL: Link to National Bucket List post.** There, you’ll experience fitness in the forms of tricking, tumbling, trampoline, dancing, and you can even try your hand at their Ninja Warrior course (complete with warped wall and foam block pit).
Oh, Portland. You’re so very Portland. But we love you, and so does Mother Earth. That’s because their Green Microgym goes all-in on sustainability — it’s in their name. But it’s also in their cardio equipment. Your sweaty session on the stationary bike or elliptical literally keeps the lights on. So, you’re creating more power by becoming more powerful. There’s that, and the fact that it’s built from recycled materials, plated with solar panels, and filled with people that care about the environment probably as much as they do their own bodies.
For the Type-A personality in us all, The Movement Minneapolis lays out the facts neat. The first fact is that you’ll leave stronger, faster, and healthier. The next fact is that you’ll know it as a fact. That’s because The Movement has created a computer software that logs your every movement down to the last rep in the last set. Your next exercises in their studio are determined by the result of your last exercise — it’s a thing called progress, and it feels amazing. It’s all very science-y, but completely legit.
We’re going to assume that stress exists in your life. (Top of the morning to ya, anxiety!) So we’re also going to assume that you don’t meditate enough. We suggest booking a cushion at NYC’s MNDFL. Sit any of their classes — Mantra, Emotion, Sound, 101 (for newbs) — and learn to shut your brain off. MNDFL’s expert teachers will show you the way, prop you up, and even wake you up if you doze off (it’s smiled upon in their Sleep class). Fitt tip: Wear something comfy — so, obviously sweatpants or yogis.
Why is a running company innovative? After all, we’ve been running from tigers and snakes for centuries. But Heartbreak Hill Running Company goes further, offering coached studio workouts on treadmills to improve your speed, strength, and form. The name alone should spark funny feelings for anyone who has run the Boston Marathon (Heartbreak Hill is no joke). From the murderous intervals and strength work of the Killer 3s class to the all-treadmill Deerfoot Dash, these run-loving Bostonians will have you ready for that damn hill.
In 40 minutes, things are going to get crazy. You better hold on to something! The wall? No. The Wall is practically lava. That’s because at Fitwall (in Cali, Michigan, AZ, and Colorado) will have you doing a fun and challenging workout on an innovative, wall-mounted apparatus. When you first meet your personal wall, you’ll be like “ah, what a nice bookcase.” But then the resistance bands, wall pull-ups, and climbs come into play. Then you’ll meet the floor.
‘Monkeying around’ at the gym is usually reserved for people who hog dumbbells or whatever the heck they’re doing at Planet Fitness. But Monkey Bar Gymnasium (founded in Madison, WI) just calls it movement. And it’s now a movement of movement; you can jump, crawl, run, climb, and swing your way to a healthier body at numerous stops across the US. And the Mile High Monkey Bar Gym in Denver might just be king of the jungle. Their bright, muraled space will have you swinging kettlebells, working the rings, and, yes, rocking the monkey bars.
We’ll lead with this: Most classes at Vibetality are only 15-20 minutes. How is that any sort of effective, you ask? The foundation to their yoga, kettlebell, and restorative classes are the whole body vibration (WBV) pads that you’ll be working on. That instability is said to stimulate muscles for improved (and expedited) strength, balance, and flexibility. And if you feel shaken to the core after class, pop into their sensory deprivation float tank for some stillness (and to totally tune out 2017).
Come on — it’s their job to be innovative. CrossFit’s top coaches don’t just train themselves! Reebok’s HQ and CrossFit hub Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, Massachusetts is a private facility (the Reebok employees are very, very lucky). But that doesn’t mean you’ll never set foot on their cutting-edge campus. On special guest days, you can join Reebok’s staff for their Noon WOD to experience world-class training and top-quality equipment — you know, all the [dumb]bells and whistles.
Watch a lot of Mark Wahlberg movies, and you’ll think everybody fights in Boston. Though, at EverybodyFights, a club founded by George Foreman III, they’re getting fighting fit. Taking experience from his boxing career (plus some wisdom from his pops), he’s adding in a splash of holistic, high-intensity fun to train harder and be better. And he pulled out all the stops on the workout of your life, creating 12 classes from four disciplines. We like TRAINx360 (12 stations of battle ropes, boxing, biking, and more) and BAGxBEATS (hittin’ the heavy bag to music).
You know those “fantasy camps” where a bunch of normals get to pretend like they’re part of the big league squad? Yeah, there’s no pretending at Tone House in NYC. Here, you get to train like the athlete of your dreams with extreme, athletic-based group fitness. You’ll get psyched up, warmed up, built up, and beat down during one session. Game-changer: You’ll recover like an athlete too with cold tub sessions, foam roller and trigger point classes (that hurt so good), and NormaTec Pulse Recovery Boots — a compressed air massage that makes leg day less dreadful.
It seems like everybody did gymnastics as a kid, but now that we’re older we seem to have lost touch with things like “stamina” and “grace”. And this recent Olympics taught us that gymnasts are strong (synonymous with Simone). Awaken Gymnastics in Denver is for adults like us who want back to the sport…for fitness’ sake. All focusing on GST (gymnastics strength training), classes here range from fundamentals (beginners start here), movement, and flexibility to handstands, rings, and tumbling. Fitt tip: Learn to laugh at yourself; gymnastics are hard.
This appointment-only iron gym in Columbus will literally build strength (we’ll get to that). Ludus Magnus offers program expertise, nutrition fixes, and enough weights to put a dent in the Earth. Here, you’re in good hands with Matt Wenning, owner, powerlifter, and consultant for US Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. And those same hands build custom strength equipment for his gym and yours (like the popular belt squat) with steel, and sweat, and brawn. Saying “hell yeah” here just feels right.
If you want to be a star, first you have to eat some humble pie. And a workout at EXOS’ 10,000 sq. ft. facility in Phoenix will feed you seconds. Elite is the word of the day here, every day. They’ve got the tools (like Woodway Curves and Keiser functional trainers) and services (physical therapy, body screenings, nutrition team) to have your body at peak performance. That’s probably why US special forces, Olympic athletes, and over a quarter of the 2017 NFL Combine class chose to work out here. But don’t worry — your initial functional movement screening will probably have you in a group more your speed.
Yoga and hip hop were practically made for each other. How it took humans this long to figure that out is a mystery. But now we have Trap Yoga, Namasdrake, and maybe a peaceful savasana with Childish Gambino. That trend didn’t come out of nowhere, folks. Y7 in Brooklyn has been doing that since 2013 (they’re the RUN–D.M.C. of beats + yoga). During a 60-minute, candlelit We Flow Hard Vinyasa session, you’ll pour sweat during a bumpin’ flow in the intimate, heated space. And it is hot…probably because the tracks are straight fire.
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