Today’s best new gyms are about more than just weight loss and muscle. They build community, mental strength, and athleticism, and they push you into workouts that often barely feel like workouts. The wisdom they share can still transform your body, but it may transform you in other ways, too.
ELIMINATE ANY EXCUSES
Adaptive Training Foundation
A workout at the Adaptive Training Foundation’s 20,000-square-foot gym doesn’t start with your traditional full-body warmup. Instead it starts with 15 minutes in something that founder David Vobora calls a “recharge room,” a small space where clients release frustrations about any recent struggles.
Only after this period do they step onto the training floor and touch weights. This, says Vobora, is the best way for his gym to help its clientele, wounded and disabled military veterans and others living with physical disabilities who are looking to redefine their lives. “After war,” he says, “these people need more mental training than anything.” Clients of the nonprofit gym, which is free for anyone with a physical impairment, get both mental and physical training that’s designed for their situation. Vobora built his gym specifically for the physically disabled, so anything that can aid their fitness is here. Those who can’t grip a bar because of injury are outfitted with an Active Hands strap, a specialized device that attaches to the wrist and closes around weights or handles. The wheelchair-bound routinely have weight sleds attached to their chairs, and anyone who can’t stand up to use a machine is given a resistance-band chest support to lean against.
This is the gym the country needs, Vobora says. “America doesn’t need more gyms,” but more than 40 million Americans are physically disabled, he adds, so “we need more gyms to open their doors to those who have been left out of fitness.” So far, 160 veterans have completed the Adaptive Training Foundation’s initial three-month program.
TRY THIS MOVE: Get in plank position on the floor, a towel under your toes. Drag your knees in until they’re below your hips. Return to the start. Do 10 reps.
EARN YOUR MEMBERSHIP
The Maximus Gym
This isn’t your average gym hustling for members.
Owned by tough-guy trainer Bobby Maximus, best- selling author of Maximus Body, Maximus Gym lets anyone work out once, but only focused people are invited to become members. If Maximus regulars notice you’re not training hard, you won’t be invited back. Intimidating? Sure. But it breeds what Maximus calls a “championship culture.” “You’re going to be exposed to more than sets and reps here,” he says. “You’re learning what truly makes champions and causes change.”
TRY THIS MOVE: Pick an exercise for the end of every workout—say, pushups. Do a few reps the first time. Add one rep every workout. “Microgoals are attainable,” says Maximus.
TRY A BASIC BODY SHOP
All you really need to get in shape? A garage. Need proof? Check out where Justin Timberlake, Kate Upton, and Bradley Beal train. They drive up a small hill to a 16-foot-by-12-foot garage that houses the tiniest elite gym you’ve ever seen. The Kitchen is at the forefront of a different brand of personal training. Rather than working out his clients on a crowded gym floor, MH advisor Ben Bruno, C.F.S.C., does it in this secluded space. You control every bit of your experience, from the music (hate metal? ditch it) to the selection of equipment. Create the gym you need.
TRY THIS MOVE: Hold dumbbells at your sides. Walk uphill. Hinge forward after each step, then straighten up. Do 10 reps.
BUILD MORE THAN MUSCLE
Detroit Body Garage
AT DETROIT Body Garage, power cleans help raise money for charity. Community workouts—group fitness sessions open to all comers—are part of owner Terra Castro’s quest to aid her neighborhood. Profits from these sessions go to local organizations like the Michigan Humane Society. Gym members also regularly turn out en masse to, say, clean up area trash. Castro hatched these projects shortly after Detroit was named America’s most unhealthy city in 2017. “I’m doing my part to change that statistic,” she says.
TRY THIS MOVE: Stand in athletic stance, a resistance band around your ankles. Keeping it tense, step to the right with your right foot; follow with your left. Take 10 paces in each direction.
ROW YOURSELF INTO SHAPE
Ever since CrossFit popularized the Concept2 rower, group rowing classes have been on the rise. But no gym handles things like CityRow, which uses the quieter, custom-built WaterRower. You alternate between intervals on the rower and dumbbell strength work. The blend is so popular that CityRow, which debuted in Manhattan in 2014, will open new locations in Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, and Boca Raton this year. “We’re offering a low-impact workout that’ll build strength without breaking you down,” says Hollis Tuttle, director of instructors, New York City.
TRY THIS MOVE: Do this circuit: Row 200 meters. Do 10 deadlifts, 10 dumbell rows, and 10 pushups. Do 3 rounds.
PAY YOURSELF TO TRAIN
Reebok HQ Fitness
Taking up two floors and 30,000 square feet of an eight- story renovated Army storehouse, Reebok’s in-house gym leaves the company’s 750 employees no excuses. They pay $75 a month but get a $7.50 credit every time they take a class or just work out on their own. (The gym is also open to the public for $300 a month.)
New 15-minute, 20- minute, and 30-minute workouts are posted daily, so lack of time can’t be your excuse, either.
TRY THIS MOVE: Short on time? Squeeze in this workout. Go hard for 2 minutes on a rower, spin bike, or treadmill; do 1 minute of burpees; do a 1-minute plank. Rest 1 minute. Do 4 rounds.
LIFT YOUR OWN WEIGHT
The Gravity Vault
What if a workout was just plain fun? It’s an idea that’s increasingly the focus at the new wave of climbing, parkour, and American Ninja Warrior–style gyms.
At the Gravity Vault, you’re not lifting weights (although you can do that in a corner of the gym). You’re scaling massive, textured rock walls 40 feet high, firing up your core and forearms in ways even bodybuilders don’t expect. That was the vision that owner Zach Barber always had for a gym. You make friends, too. It’s not uncommon to be ten feet up, unsure of how to progress, and have somebody use a laser pointer to show you a hold you missed. It takes a village to take on the Gravity Vault’s toughest routes. That’s half the fun.
TRY THIS MOVE: Start in a high plank. Shift to a side plank, then an opposite-side plank. Hold each for 30 seconds; do 3 sets.
CREATE MUSCLE WITH VR
Mayweather Boxing + Fitness los angeles
Floyd Mayweather’s days as the world’s finest pound-for-pound boxer are over, but he’s still putting all that ring knowledge to use in his latest project: kicking your ass into shape. At the boxing legend’s new gym, when you want to spar, you don’t always need a partner. Instead you can put on an HTC Vive VR headset, a weighted vest, and weighted gloves with resistance bands attached and step into the ring to begin a 12-week virtual- boxing program, with a digitized Mayweather as your trainer. (You can also skip the gloves and vest to get started.)
“There’s mitt work, bag work, and full sparring once you’re up to that level,” says programming coordinator Reid Silverman. Virtual Floyd pushes you through zero-impact drills, so you break a sweat without battering your joints. Not that you’re stuck doing only VR training. A 60-minute group fitness class called Championship Boxing lets you go at a real bag for 12 rounds, again borrowing from the ideas that Money himself used.
TRY THIS MOVE: Learn the Mayweather situp: Do a situp. Lean forward, press up through your heels, and stand. Throw a right jab. Squat and return to situp position. Repeat, throwing a left jab. Do 15 total reps.
SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP
Mastering your body includes knowing when you aren’t moving properly—and correcting the issue. Walk into the Movement and you’ll see the office where the on-site physical therapist works with all members. (The first PT visit is free.) A coach may notice you laboring in a deadlift and, if needed, send you to the PT to see if there’s a problem. “That communication keeps you healthy,” says founder David Dellanave.
TRY THIS MOVE : It’s called the Jefferson deadlift. Stand over a barbell, right foot in front of it, left behind it, knees bent. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, torso at a 45 degree angle, core tight. Straighten your legs, lifting the barbell. That’s 1 rep; do 4 sets of 5 to 8 per side.
YOUR ULTIMATE HOTEL GYM
The Aria, Las VegasYou won’t find a more tech-ed out hotel gym than the one in the halls of the Aria. Driven by brand new Technogym gear, every single weight machine can connect to your iPhone and track your workout, calculating everything from reps to calories burned to the rhythm and pace of your reps. It’s a game-changer for OCD trainers who want to know everything about their traveling clients’ workouts. Not into weights? The Aria’s Technogym-powered cardio equipment is just as nuanced, with treadmills and ellipticals that also connect to your iPhone and track performance. And rowing fans will love the Technogym Skillrow machine, which is sturdy enough to survive the most powerful of rowing strokes but smooth enough that you’ll still feel like you’re on the water. Expect other hotel gyms to follow the Aria’s lead and eventually deliver more connected experiences.
PUMP UP YOUR PILATES
Katherine Mason knows exactly how the bench-pressing crowd views Pilates. “Men usually think it’s for women,” she says. Her solution: Blend the Pilates Megaformer with a vicious CrossFit mainstay, the nonmotorized treadmill. “Guys think our combination of machines is interesting,” she says. The mix gets guys sweating like crazy first, then zeroes in on their abs when they’re fatigued, a challenging formula you can’t help loving.TRY THIS MOVE: Struggling to focus? Find five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. Your focus will return.