Bodybuilding.com is more than just the world's largest fitness site; it's also a vast data pool thanks to BodySpace, the largest social media site in the world dedicated to the fit-minded. We're based in Boise, Idaho, which seems like an emerging fitness capital, and it got us to thinking: How ripped are we compared to the rest of the United States of Abs?
WHAT IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?
The Strength in Numbers Study is based on data collected from our very own social fitness network, BodySpace. Our findings come from BodySpace members who successfully make progress toward a stated fitness goal, whether it's weight gain or loss. How big is this data pool? There are currently 8,235,583 members signed up for BodySpace!
So we decided to data-mine a new installment of our "Strength in Numbers" study. Using BodySpace, we identified the 10 U.S. cities that are the "most ripped." No, we didn't stalk people in gyms to arrive at this ranking. We took the number of people with body fat less than 10 percent for each city and divided it by the total number of users with their body-fat percentage recorded. In the following list, that percentage comes after the city's name.
Beg to differ? Care to argue? Plead your case in the comments below!
1 Sioux Falls, SD, 31.4%
A bustling local economy isn't the only thing strong in Sioux Falls. Its residents are building muscles and getting ripped, too. Hot summers make a getaway to one of the more than 70 Sioux Falls city parks and greenways a must, while winter snowfall is enough to make skiing, snowboarding, and tubing available to residents. Whether you're slathering on that sunscreen or strapping on your snowshoes, the outdoors beckons.
Cool Gym: dFINE
In addition to standard strength equipment, private Fitness Club dFINE, which is exclusive to only 300 members, offers everything from personal training to fitness classes from your standard boot camp to classes like "Nothing Butt" and "Daily Push." They also boast upscale contemporary decor to set the mood as you pound through those reps.
Cool Restaurant: Falls Overlook Cafe
A restored 1908 hydroelectric plant, this cafe is positioned on the east bank of the Sioux River in Falls Park. Enjoy a scenic garden view while keeping things healthy with dishes like the "Queen Bee salad," which features chopped kale, prosciutto, raisins, and shredded parmesan. Looking to up the ante? Opt for the sweet potato brisket or the grilled turkey wrap, which features both fresh-sliced turkey and black bean salsa.
Cool fitness event: Healthy Living Day
With a parks and recreation department which hosts everything from playgroups for kids to morning walking programs for all, it's no surprise that the city has designated an "Annual Healthy Living Day." The free family event brings together local fitness and health professionals to educate residents to live a sustainable, smart lifestyle.
2 Lincoln, Nebraska, 29%
Lincoln is the healthiest and happiest city in the country, according to a Gallup-Healthways poll. Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and is the perfect stop for the young and athletic. It boasts football, baseball, and hockey teams as well as the No Coast Derby Girls! Lincoln supports an astounding 125 parks connected via 131 miles of trails open for foot or bike traffic, making it very inviting for outdoor recreation.
Cool Gym: Cornhusker CrossFit
Lincoln's largest CrossFit affiliate is an 11,000 square-foot facility that caters to anyone and everyone interested in this approach to fitness. The main instructor, Jordan Klasek, has more certs than you can shake a stick at. The gym's website says: "Go ahead. Take the challenge. Make a positive change. It's your life, isn't it?"
Cool Restaurant: Lazlo's Brewery
Rated the "Best of Lincoln," Lazlo's Brewery and Grill specializes in signature burgers and world class New York steaks. To avoid the trappings of a one trick pony, their menu features popular Rainbow chicken, fresh seafood, and an array of made-from-scratch soups, salads, and sandwiches. Time to pack in the protein!
Cool fitness event: James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlon
The O'Rourke is a traditional triathlon that welcomes all ability levels as part of the "Healthy for Life" community wellness program.
3 Boise, Idaho, 26.6%
We'd like to say that Boise made this list because so many Bodybuilding.com employees walk the hallways with a six-pack under their shirt, but Boise screams "fit" based on numerous criteria. It ranked first in "Men's Health" magazine's "The Best & Worst Cities for Men 2013," and reached number four on the companion list in Women's Health. Heck, even the pets somehow seem healthier in this outdoorsy town.
Boise and nearby Meridian have fitness chains and other gyms, but "Edge" is the most-badass training facility in the Treasure Valley, making it a haven for high school studs looking to score D-I scholarships. The rough-hewn warehouse space is run by Matt Wattles, a 300-pound strongman and past president of the American Society of Exercise Physiology. It's by appointment only, and you won't want to argue with the proprietor.
Cool food: Capital City Public Market
This farmer's market displays the best local produce and offers an endless bounty of organic awesomeness to fuel your active lifestyle. Grab an array of fresh vegetables and whip up a veggie omelet before your midday workout.
Cool fitness event: Boise Fit Expo
Las Vegas has the Olympia, Columbus has the Arnold, and Boise has this annual celebration of bodybuilding and fitness, courtesy of this website, Bodybuilding.com. The biggest and most unique fitness-related EXPO in Idaho will be held this year at Century Link Arena on June 7. Come check it out!
4 Madison, Wisconsin, 26.2%
The state capital of Wisconsin, Madison is a rural location with a big-city culture. The metropolitan area of about 500,000 people offers an eclectic variety of activities for the visiting fitness enthusiast. Getting around isn't a problem since the streets are very bike-friendly and you can tap into a deep vein of local flavor just traipsing along the streets downtown. One of the more popular points in downtown is Monona Terrace, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Monona and join in on free Tai Chi exercises during the summer.
Cool Gym: Boulders Climbing Gym
If monkeying up rocks is your jam, Boulders Climbing Gym offers more than 8,000 square feet of indoor climbing space and hosts a number of local and national competitions for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Cool restaurant: Fit 2 Eat
Fit 2 Eat on Speedway Road is where the Madison fit set often stops for a pre-workout meal or post-workout refueling. Everything is made fresh to order, including many vegetarian and gluten-free entr?es.
Cool Fitness Event: Ironman Wisconsin
Every year the Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon is held the Sunday following Labor Day Weekend. The initial swimming leg takes place in Lake Monona, while the cycling and running courses meander through the urban streets of Madison and continue onto the roads of Dane.
5 Buffalo, New York, 25.7%
Lurking inside the sweaters of Buffalo, New York, are thousands of athletic bodies eager to show what they're made of. A consistent presence on "American's fittest city" lists, Buffalo is not only packed with gyms, it's also rapidly building renown as a bike-friendly city with more than its share of farmer's markets and healthy food options (wings notwithstanding). As an added bonus, if you're ever in Buffalo and feel like you need to lose a few pounds, just step outside and start shivering. It's all about the brown fat activation, baby!
Cool gym: Fierce Training
Fierce Training is located in a beautifully restored historic building which, in previous professional lives, has contained horse stables, a car wash, and a book-binding business (not all at the same time). From the outside, you'd never guess that a 4,000-square-foot Valhalla of heavy weights and functional training lurked within. Owner Giovanni Preziuso keeps membership limited to minimize competition for equipment, and also offers personalized fitness training, suspension training, kettlebells, Olympic lifting, and everything in between.
Cool restaurant: Seabar Sushi
Chef Mike Andrezejewski's sushi-meets-fine-dining haven has grown over the years from a local secret to one of the most coveted seats in upstate New York. The seafood gets flown in from around the world daily, and is served up in visionary rolls, salads, and entrees which combine the freshness of traditional Japanese with French-style decadence.
Cool fitness event: Mr./Ms. Buffalo
Now in its 63rd year, the NPC Mr. Buffalo bodybuilding competition is bigger than ever, annually drawing thousands of fans to the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center, located just a few walking lunges from the legendary cascade. In 1980, the show expanded to include a women's bodybuilding competition, Ms. Buffalo, and has since grown to include a bikini competition in 2009. It added men and women's physique comps last year.
6 Fort Wayne, Indiana, 25.3%
Indiana's second-largest city made our list for good reason! In 2001, "Self" magazine listed Fort Wayne as the fourth-least-fit city in the United States. Since then, the city has built a fit, active community that puts health first. With 2,000 acres of parks, 68 miles of trails, many gym options, and a multitude of healthy restaurants, Fort Wayne makes fitness fun and easy.
Cool gym: Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
Take a break from your usual cardio session and train for an hour in a trampoline park! The floor-to-wall trampoline courts offer fun for everyone—you don't have to be a kid to enjoy the freedom of being airborne. Grab a team and play dodgeball, bring your kids for a day of fit family bonding, or just bring your exercise gear for some cardio that's so fun you'll forget you're working out!
Cool restaurant: 3 Rivers Natural Grocery
Treat yourself to some natural foods at the Fort Wayne Co-op! There you can purchase your favorite organic groceries or stop at the hot food bar for a meal. No matter your dietary restrictions, tasty, healthy, organic choices await.
Cool fitness event: Fort Wayne Health and Fitness Expo
Although 2013 was its inaugural year, the Fort Wayne Health and Fitness Expo will only get bigger and better. There, you can meet other fit-minded friends and visit vendors to learn about the newest fitness products, training methodologies, and nutrition information. You can also watch or participate in the exciting expo competitions like Strongman or CrossFit.
7 Columbus, Ohio, 25.1%
Once upon a time, the fittest people in Ohio's capital city were the athletes at The Ohio State University. Today, they've got plenty of competition. Every year in late February or early March, pro and amateur athletes of all types pack venues around the city for the Arnold Sports Festival, competing in everything from bodybuilding to CrossFit to table tennis. To the west lurks Louie Simmons' legendary Westside Barbell and Dave Tate's Elite Fitness compound. MusclePharm founder Cory Gregory's Old School Gym is the same distance to the east. Just north of downtown, Rogue Fitness outfits strength athletes around the world with high-quality American-made equipment and maintains a legendary gym at its HQ.
Cool gym: Too many to count
Where to begin? Option one: Go see Louie or Dave if you dare—and if they'll have you. Other popular powerlifting dungeons include Dogg Pound and Lexen Extreme. Rogue's gym is closed to the public, but the city abounds with well-equipped CrossFit boxes. The Old School Gym is an absolute steal at $35 a month if you don't mind the drive. For a change of pace, consider Ohio Krav Maga, which combines CrossFit curriculum with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other situational combat training. In a city this strong, you need to be able to defend yourself.
Cool restaurant: Hyde Park Prime / Fit Food Meals
Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse in downtown Columbus is a favorite haunt of post-contest bodybuilders—rumor has it Flex Lewis brought his 212 trophy in with him last year—but it's not a sustainable option for hard-training athletes on a budget. The in-house delivery restaurant Fit Food Meals, on the other hand, lends a high-end chef's touch to lean eating. The menu changes daily and can be tailored to people with special dietary needs.
Cool fitness event: The Arnold Sports Festival
The Arnold Classic bodybuilding championships and the Fitness, Figure, and Bikini Internationals may get the headlines, but the Arnold Sports Festival has plenty more to offer than just bodybuilding. Olympic sports like fencing, swimming, boxing, and table tennis are all featured prominently. The strongman competition is one of the most prestigious in the sport, as are the arm wrestling, powerlifting, and highland games. If you're up to the challenge, you can even compete in the annual "5k Pump and Run," a bench press and running biathlon that always sells out quickly.
8 Saint Paul, Minnesota, 25%
Never mind the ice-cold winters—this is a surprisingly athletic state. The city of Saint Paul offers many gym options, healthy restaurants, and athletic events held year round for the fitness-minded. From frozen 5ks to blisteringly hot summer triathlons, Saint Paul has something for everyone and in every season.
Cool gym: GreenBody
Nestled just outside of downtown Saint Paul, GreenBody houses nine trainers in a studio with a home-like feel. They offer personal training and challenging group fitness classes which alternate being held indoors and outdoors, depending on the unpredictable climate of Minnesota. From learning to make your own probiotic-packed kombucha at home to swinging kettlebells, GreenBody teaches healthy, harmonic living.
Cool restaurant: Brasa Rotisserie
This restaurant prides itself in getting all its ingredients from Minnesota and its neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa. Brasa offers fresh, delicious meals which come from chemical and hormone-free farms, along with the added reassurance that no additives, MSG, or high-fructose corn syrup are in any of their dishes. Try the homemade pulled chicken or tender smoked beef!
Cool fitness event: Twin Cities Marathon and Fitness Expo
Held each fall since 1982, this notoriously beautiful course begins in downtown Minneapolis and winds through 26.2 miles of roads and stunning lake views, finishing at the capital building in downtown Saint Paul. More than 300,000 fans gather along the course each year to cheer on runners of every ability and age. Additionally, the health and fitness expo is free to the public and offers many discounted deals and goodies to shoppers.
9 Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 25%
This is one of America's hottest cities, so breaking a sweat isn't difficult. Situated atop the "bluff" rising above the Mississippi River delta, Louisiana's capital city flourishes with a dynamic mix of collegiate enthusiasm and modern industry. More than 20 percent of its residents are students at one of Baton Rouge's four universities.
Cool Gym: LSU Recreation Center
For overall value, size, equipment, and variety, the University Recreation Center at Louisiana State cannot be beat. It's currently undergoing an expansion that will make it 250,000 square feet. It has an outdoor aquatic center, a three-story cardio and weight fitness area, a climbing wall and challenge course, numerous fields, courts, and exercise rooms. Everyone is welcome.
Cool Restaurant: The Chimes
People come to Louisiana for the atmosphere, for Mardi Gras, and for the food. Baton Rouge houses some of the best seafood in the country. It has amazing Cajun cooking and raw sushi. You can find quality food everywhere, but The Chimes (three locations in the city) knows how to handle the unique and diverse flavors of Southern cuisine.
Cool Fitness Event: Mardi Gras Mambo
Like most major cities, Baton Rouge hosts a number of races and runs throughout the summer. The Summer Hump Series, Fat Boy 5K, Freedom Mile, and the Daddy, Daughter, and Son 2-mile Relay are just a few. But the best race of the season is the Mardi Gras Mambo, a 10k or 15k road race through beautiful Baton Rouge. More than 1,700 runners danced the mambo to the finish in 2013!
10 Billings, Montana, 25%
If you yearn for outdoor adventure, natural inspiration, and endless recreation, Billings, Montana, is your place. Known as Montana's trailhead, Billings provides nearly limitless opportunities to embrace Northwestern culture. The Magic City offers a stash of healthy dining options, robust farmer's markets, and several gyms to quench your thirst for fitness.
Cool gym: Granite Fitness
Granite Fitness is as tough as, well, granite, and comes stocked with everything a fitness enthusiast could ask for. Group fitness classes are taught in abundance thanks to a solid aquatics center, full-size gymnasium, and a full line of weights. Get pumped up on life and fitness at this all-in-one fitness mountain!
Cool restaurant: The Fieldhouse Cafe
The term "all-natural" gets thrown around loosely, but the Fieldhouse Cafe lives up to its reputation as a locally owned establishment that only cooks homegrown food. The Fieldhouse Cafe is a certified green restaurant that makes everything from scratch and takes pride in its customer service.
Cool Fitness Event: Montana Marathon
Formerly known as the Montana Governors Cup Marathon, the Montana Marathon starts in the community of Molt, west of Billings, and is broken into a full and half marathon, a 10k, and a team run. The Montana Marathon combines hilly terrain with pavement throughout to test the best runners under grueling circumstances.