Fitness is an all-inclusive deal. You sign up and immediately begin earning rewards, like heart health and physical strength, new friends and new ideas of what training can look like. Finding the right environment to pursue your goals can make all the difference.
Each month, we feature three unique, top-class gyms to showcase the wide and wonderful world of training. The three facilities we've selected for May are very different, but each abides by the same mantra that keeps us motivated: Come here, change your body, and change your life.
One gym is a world-class CrossFit box, with a competitive team that consistently places high at the Reebok CrossFit Games. Another is a Hollywood boutique, which caters to its clients to the point that they can create their own style of classes. The third gym is one of the best and most-diverse in Columbus, Ohio, one of America's fittest cities.
These gyms have earned the right to be called a Bodybuilding.com Gym of the Month.
CrossFit New England—The Best Box In Boston
Name: CrossFit New England
Founder: Ben Bergeron
# of Members: 450
Address: 15 Tech Circle, Natick, MA
Phone: 508 808-4301
Square Feet: 5,800
Trainers on staff: Heather Bergeron, Kevin Montoya, Rachel Martinez, Harry Palley, plus 5 part-time trainers
There are many metrics to gauge how well a gym works. Some measure success by the number of members, retention rates, and the ever-worldly bottom dollar. At CrossFit New England (CFNE), success is measured by how many people stick around after a Workout of the Day (WOD) is complete. If the gym has properly fostered a community and connected each member, then members stick around even after training.
"We try to create an environment of camaraderie, support integrity, honesty, [and] humility," says CFNE Owner Ben Bergeron. "It's different from a big gym club setting, where people come in, put their headphones on, and do their own type of workout. Here everyone is together, supporting each other. It's a class atmosphere, but not like a class at a health club, where a coach leads and everyone is quiet. [CFNE] like a social club with a fitness problem ."
CFNE is one of the most competitive boxes in the world. Its hard-working members have finished in the top three in the Reebok CrossFit Games Team Competition three of the past four years. CFNE even won the team comp in 2011.
"We produce results," Bergeron says, "but at the same time we're not a hardcore, in your face, chalk dust and tattoos place. Our average client is a 39-year-old female mother of two. It's not a bunch of 22-year-olds trying to become the fittest in the world."
But, members of CFNE are getting extremely fit. The box boasts impressive results thanks to great coaching, accountability, and the discipline of CrossFit itself, which includes resistance training, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and cardio. It's an amalgamation of all good things in a high-intensity setting.
CrossFit isn't just taking a foothold in the suburbs of Boston. It's spreading across the planet and may even help offset the staggering obesity levels in American households. CFNE's fastest growing demographics are children and teens, brought in by their parents or school buddies. Ben's wife Heather helps run the children's CrossFit staff.
"My Gym is Different"
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"We have a program for every age demographic, but we don't really reach out to them. They've just come to find us," Bergeron says. "Our kids program was very successful from the beginning. Heather has a great personality to help kids. That program took off very quickly."
Intense lifting may be harmful to children, so here kids learn form with broomsticks, and work on cardio endurance, bodyweight strength, and movement patterns. "We're trying to cause a neurological response, so when they go to pick up their 35-pound backpack they are safer," Bergeron explains.
Winning the CrossFit Games brought a little pride into CFNE, and some community glue. "Members rally around [CFNE] because it's their gym," Bergeron says. "We're from Boston and we love to cheer for the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots, but if you're actually training with [competitors] every day, you get that next level of pride."
While CFNE isn't set on producing incredible physiques, they're often the byproduct. "It's true that form follows function," Bergeron says. "The opposite is not true. Function doesn't follow form. If you have a sculpted body, it doesn't mean you can run a 4-minute mile and back squat 500 pounds in the same day. But, if you can do those two things, your body is going to be sculpted."
Uevolution—The Do-It-All Boutique
Founder: Pascale Rothman
# of Members: 253
Address: 621 S. Spring St. Los Angeles, 90014
Square Feet: 7,000
Trainers on staff: Meghan O'Donoghue, Jeffrey Dodson, Jennifer Wyatt, and Omar Lopez
Los Angeles is home to more than 13 million people. The demographics include movie stars, corporate executives, professional athletes, and many others who want to be stars or simply live better. Catering to that diverse crowd can be difficult for a gym.
In the heart of LA, just blocks from the financial district, is Uevolution, a small boutique-style gym created by Pascale Rothman. "One day it dawned on me that we needed a new kind of gym; one that not only got you in shape on the outside , but on the inside, too," Rothman says. "We want to inspire people to take control of their lives, to enrich themselves at the deepest, most rewarding levels and feel their very best."
Uevolution keeps it simple. There are no contracts, entry, or cancellation fees. All the equipment is new, made by TechnoGym, and there's something here for everyone. You want TRX? Boxing? CrossFit? Powerlifting? Kettlebells? Dance? You can do it here. If Uevolution doesn't have your niche, you can specially request a class, and the gym will make it for you!
"Usually there is a target market," says Uevolution Fitness Manager Meghan O'Donoghue. "Here the entire community is the target. We have such a broad spectrum of clientele. There isn't a standard member, from the artist painting on the corner to investment bankers. People initially try everything. We make it so that people can go somewhere where they are not going to get bored."
To actually achieve that ultimate body and mind exercise, the facility is built as a wellness center. It offers nutritional guidance, physical therapy, a spa, locker rooms, showers, platforms, benches, and even numerous group activities outdoors via park access. And why not? It's sunny LA.
Even though Uevolution is near the Fashion District, this isn't a runway. It's a place to exercise. If you're in the City of Angels, and you need to evolve away from unhealthy lifestyle choices, stop in, get a 3-day pass, and try something new.
"True health is achieved through a balance in all areas of your life—overall wellness, strong workouts, rounded nutrition, and powerful connections through community," Rothman says. "We encourage our clients to expand their minds, open their hearts, feed their body, and nourish their souls."
Beyond Limits Training—The Fitness Mosaic
Name: Beyond Limits Training, LLC
Founder(s): Rich Lauro & Greg Woods
# of Members: 340
Address: 294 E. Long Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
Square Feet: 7,000
Beyond Limits is one of the most diverse training atmospheres in Columbus, Ohio, one of the fittest cities in America. This vast 7,000 sq ft facility is equipped to please anyone interested in powerlifting, strongman, general fitness, weight loss, bodybuilding, figure, Olympic lifting, functional strength, and conditioning.
The weight room boasts three squat racks and all the equipment you need to make your free-weight dreams a reality. The kettlebells go up to 70 pounds and the dumbbells roll to 130. You need bands, boards, chains? Get it here and get it done.
Beyond Limits has no limits. It's open 24 hours every day to people of all ages. Its brick walls give it a sense of hardened resolve, but this is no iron dungeon. The setting is well-kept and clean. Of course there are treadmills and leg machines, but look closer and you'll find various sleds and strongman equipment. Basically, whatever you like to lift, you can lift it here.
This is the official gym of the Arnold Sports Festival, which takes over Columbus for one weekend each year, but leaves a lasting impact on the economy and health of the entire metropolis. "The entire city lights up for the weekend and everyone in fitness goes home with amazing memories and friendships," Beyond Limits owner Rich Lauro says. "Meeting all different kinds of people and athletes from across the world makes it something special."
Lauro has been training for more than 20 years and lifted in gyms around the globe. He understands that, to appeal to a diverse crowd, a gym must offer diverse disciplines of exercise. Not only do different people have specialties, but each can also benefit from trying new things. Here, you can do it all under one roof.
"Our members thrive upon the diversity of training styles," Lauro says. "We challenge our bodybuilders to be functionally conditioned and our runners to increase the strength across every measure. If we are not balanced, then we have a weakness in our fitness. We want our members to be strong head to toe, fit, and look good regardless of their particular sport or training style."
Surround yourself with successful people and you will be successful. Train in an environment that both challenges and encourages you. Increase your chances of success. Go beyond your limits.