15 Sweat-Worthy Fitness Spots in Grand Rapids

Getting your sweat on is one of the best feelings in the world. That euphoric moment at the end of a hard workout is always worth it! The key to real change though (we all know this) is consistency and dedication – and therein lies the rub. To help keep you motivated, here are 15 of the best sweat spots + fitness studios in GR that focus on sustainable change, serious sweat, and building a community of fitness fanatics that will keep you coming back for more!

Allegro Coachingfitness studio

A boutique studio in the heart of Eastown, Allegro Coaching believes in conditioning the body, mind, and spirit through fun and effective fitness classes. In musical terminology, Allegro means “fast and fun” and the 40 large group classes offered here weekly truly reflect their namesake. From Pilates and TRX to BODYPUMP, Boxing, Team Shred, and Tai Chi, Allegro infuses their studio with a variety of classes making the dreaded fitness plateau a thing of the past.

Title One Kickboxingfitness studio

Located in Kentwood, Title One Kickboxing will make you drip within the first 10 minutes – no joke. Their kickboxing workouts incorporate kicking with punching (yelling is optional!) for a dynamic and uber-challenging experience. They also offer Power Hour (a true boxer’s workout) and Mixed Martial Arts. Title One believes in digging deep and seeing what you’re really made of. If stumbling out of a workout in a haze of sweat and satisfaction is what you’re looking for, this is for you.

F45 Fitnessfitness studio

F45 stands for Function 45, as in 45 minutes of functional, no-nonsense, air-gasping fitness. Hailing from Australia and located near Woodland Mall, F45 training merges three separate fitness styles (High-Intensity Interval Training, Circuit Training, and Functional Training) into one heart pounding, station-based workout. The fusion of these three training concepts has led to the development of 27 different workouts that rotate throughout the gym on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a punch in the gut with a side of variety, F45 Fitness is for you.

FLEXcity Fitnessfitness studio

FLEXcity calls Downtown GR its home and is a HIIT focused studio blending leading techniques into a one-of-a-kind training concept. Built for ALL fitness levels, FLEXcity sessions are 56 minutes and interval based, incorporating cardio, strength training, and flexibility into each and every class. This signature FLEX56 workout was created to make exercise fun and effective. If you don’t have time to pick and choose between 50 different classes and want to place your chips on a sure thing, check out FLEXcity.

Orange Theory Fitnessfitness studio

Located in Kentwood near the Woodland Mall, Orange Theory Fitness takes your workout to a whole new level by incorporating data into the science behind getting sweaty. Each session is one hour and combines cardio with strength training using treadmills, indoor rowers, hand weights, and floor exercises to get serious results. During your gym session, you wear a heart-rate monitor that displays the data in real time on a screen, letting your trainer know how you are doing and keeping you accountable too. The goal is to hit the “Orange Effect” or the level where there’s increased energy and calorie burn up to 36 hours after the workout!

Grit Life fitness studio

Grit Life focuses not only on physical conditioning, but also nutrition, recovery, and mindfulness. It’s a community more than a workout class, and when it comes to fitness, there’s strength in numbers. They offer daily classes both indoor and outdoor that focus on boxing, full-body strength, and circuit training. Drop in classes are only $15.00, making it an affordable option anytime of the year.

Burn Boot Camp GR fitness studio

Ok, you’re a busy parent with a full-time job – how are you supposed to find time to work out? Enter Burn Boot Camp GR. Each class is only 45 minutes but boasts an average burn of 700 calories per session! AND they offer free childcare at select times throughout the week. They also provide members with Focus Meetings every three weeks, or one-on-one time spent with a trainer to help you track fitness, nutritional, even personal goals. It’s a true lifestyle transformation program that helps busy families make time to get their sweat on.

 MVP Sports Clubsfitness studio

If you want big-time variety and amazing amenities, MVP is your place! Offering over 400 complimentary group fitness classes each month, MVP Sports Clubs provides its members with classes to fit even the busiest schedule. From Group Power to Yoga, Aqua Fit to Zumba, they have what you need to get moving and get motivated! It’s anything and everything you would want in a workout facility.

Friction CrossFitfitness studio

It’s no secret that CrossFit has been taking the nation by storm, but have you checked out Friction CrossFit yet? At Friction, they leave the fancy equipment at the door and focus instead on great coaching and personalized attention. It’s group class, but the coaches and community at large are focused on helping you achieve optimal results by pushing you to the ultimate limit – and then a little bit further.  If you’re looking for a no-frills, personalized workout, head to Friction.

Fzique Lifefitness studio

Housed within the 616LOFTs on Michigan St., Fzique is the ultimate fitness party. If you’re jonesing for a nightclub experience (that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve been hit by a train the next morning) this is a must-do! In their indoor cycling classes, the lights go down for an ultimate full body calorie-burning workout. If cycling isn’t your thing, check out FZIQUE X, a fresh take on HIIT training. Immerse yourself in the music and get in the zone with Fzique Life.

CKO Kickboxing fitness studio

CKO offers 30 group classes per week combining kickboxing with conditional drills for a total body workout. Located in North Downtown with free parking, their trial deal is unbeatable – 3 classes and kickboxing gloves for $20.00. Get all the stress of the day out at CKO and pack it into your punch!

 GR Challenge Center

Located on Monroe in the heart of Grand Rapids, the GR Challenge Center is more than a traditional fitness facility. It offers challenging, sweat-worthy classes such as Yoga, Strength, and Total Body workouts, but brings a community element to the class that isn’t easy to imitate. As a member, you are embraced by a family of fitness and health providers dedicated to helping you find your best self through understanding, coaching, and training. If you don’t want to be another face in the crowd, check out GR Challenge Center. 

YMCA of Greater GR

 fitness studio

Who doesn’t love the YMCA? Nobody. With multiple accessible locations peppered throughout the Grand Rapids region, a ridiculous amount of fitness classes for any ability level, child care, robust aquatics programming (the list goes on!) there’s something for everyone here. Get your sweat on exactly how you want to, without breaking the bank, at the Y.

Fit Body Boot Camp (GR NE)  fitness studio

What differentiates this boot camp class from the pack? It’s only 30 minutes! Located in NE Grand Rapids on the East Beltline, this heart-stopping workout is designed to burn fat from the word go. Fit Body Boot Camp is home to the Afterburn workout, a group program that combines HIIT interval training with active rest training where you get high energy, fun, and challenging workouts meant to burn maximum fat and tone your entire body in 30 minutes. If you’re always pressed for time and want to optimize your sweat session, this is for you.

Armentality Movement Arts Centerfitness studio

Find a low-stress workout that stills makes you sweat at Armentality Movement Arts Center. Joy, laughter, meditation, strength, and friendship are woven throughout every program at Armentality. Offering dance, yoga, concert dance, martial arts, global culture themes, fitness classes, and more, this facility is a place where you can get fit physically while also growing mentality at the same time. Feel energized and refreshed at Armentality.

Grab a towel, water bottle, and a friend to check out one of the 15 sweat-worthy hot spots in Grand Rapids. Share your favorite workout program or place with us in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to GR Healthy Living for all our latest updates and health happenings in the GR area!


Tackle the Monday Funk with CKO Kickboxing

When Monday night rolls around, I’m always psyched to cruise over to CKO Kickboxing, where I get to sweat, glow, and challenge myself with every kick and punch!  There’s nothing better than a motivating trainer, hype music, and punching some bags to lift me out of the Monday funk.

Over the past few months, I’ve been taking classes at CKO Kickboxing and I’m officially addicted to the heart pumping cardio, combat moves, and intensity of the class. The best part!? IT’S FUN! There’s never a dull moment with the constant push to amp your fitness and lively atmosphere.  During my first class, I definitely felt intimidated, but as soon as the instructor cranked the music and got the momentum going, I found my groove and quickly caught on.  Though it takes time and commitment to truly learn the techniques, push yourself to new limits, and build strength, here are a few reasons why I absolutely LOVE kickboxing and why you should give it a shot!

It’s a Huge Stress Relief

cko kickboxing

Photo | Instagram @ckogr8

If you have any pent-up stress or aggression, kickboxing is an AWESOME outlet. Instead of internalizing a stressful event or bad day at work, take it out on the bag–or put a face on it and punch your least favorite person into oblivion. There’s extreme satisfaction that comes with hitting the bag a little harder each time or launching it further after a few powerful kicks. After just 30 minutes of class, my adrenaline and anxiety significantly subside. I feel more empowered, confident, and relish in the afterglow of the much-needed endorphin and serotonin boost.

Build Physical Strength & Endurance

cko kickboxing

Photo | Instagram @ckogr8

In addition to the mental benefits, kickboxing engages all of the muscle groups in your body through high-intensity training.  The martial art techniques combined with bursts of explosive energy can burn up to 750 calories an hour. At CKO, the trainer breaks down each technique in preparation for several combos which typically include jabs, uppercuts, roundhouses, sidekicks, and backhands.  Toward the end of class, we finish off with squats, sprints, and intense ab work. PHEW! I’m always a sweaty mess and ready to collapse during the final minutes.

Social Benefits

cko kickboxing

Photo | Instagram @ckogr8

Another awesome component of the class is the camaraderie. Not only do I get to workout with a few friends who hold me accountable, the atmosphere of CKO is highly motivating and encouraging. The instructors work with you to achieve proper form and maximum strength, the music is off da hook, and the adrenaline of each workout is enhanced by the group aspect. When John G (our Monday night trainer) shouts, “Don’t get tired, get busy!” the extra effort is contagious and keeps everyone going.

cko kickboxing

Kickboxing is an invigorating way to develop yourself physically, mentally, and socially. Since attending CKO, my back, shoulders, and arms are more sculpted and I’ve improved my cardiovascular endurance. Maybe you never pictured yourself ferociously taking out your aggression on an innocent bag, but if there’s one thing that makes us better at being human, it’s surpassing all the expectations we have of ourselves. If you’re craving something new and ready to get busy at the gym, we have a SWEET kickboxing studio right here in GR! Or you can check out any of CKO’s +65 locations all over the United States. For more insight on the benefits of boxing, read this inspiring interview with an accomplished kickboxing champMaureen Shea

yoga studios

30 Days With the Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse

What does a funky buddha, a bohemian vibe, and Eastown Grand Rapids have in common? The makings of my new favorite fitness regime. I recently discovered a $30 Groupon to try a month of unlimited classes at the Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse. I live a few miles from their Eastown location, so I figured, why not!? Despite my love for fitness, Yoga had taken a backseat to my HIIT and strength training workouts. Thus, I decided to try something new and emerge myself in the full Yoga experience.

Funky Buddha Yoga

Image | Instagram @funkybuddhayoga

I pre-registered for my first class, Power-Flow w/Music, with the Funky Buddha app. The app lays out the weekly schedule and is easy to navigate. I arrived about 10 minutes early and relished in the Bohemian-Esque studio complete with an artistic chalkboard wall, strung lights, and lively color. It was happy hour on Friday, so members were especially chatty and friendly. For an added touch, they burned a little incense and played upbeat, acoustic music–just what I needed after a long week.

Funky Buddha Yoga

Image | Instagram @funkybuddhayoga

At the start of class, the instructor introduced herself and her assistant. She exuded a calm, helpful demeanor. We first settled into Balasana, Child’s Pose, and focused on our breathing. It occurred to me that I rarely breathe consciously and my mind immediately entered a quiet, calm awareness. Despite my lack of experience, I felt comfortable and invigorated. Within a minute of class, they cranked the heat and I braced myself for a sweaty mess. Thankfully, I came prepared with 2 towels: 1 to place over my mat and a bath towel to wipe off added sweat. As the heat intensified, I let my feelings of self-consciousness, along with beads of sweat, melt right off of my body as I focused on my practice.

Funky Buddha Yoga

Image | Instagram @funkybuddhayoga

We spent the 1st part of the class in standing poses, then gravitated to poses either lying or sitting on our mat. The instructor gave clear, step-by-step directions throughout the entire duration. Finally, we ended with  Savasana, where you lie on your back, close your eyes, and breathe long and deep. I forced myself into a relaxed, meditative state and found my inner zen.  After an inspiring “namaste,” I walked away feeling energized and fulfilled. It was not easy, but it was one of the best workouts I’ve ever done. At this point, I decided to make Yoga a regular practice in my health and fitness journey.
Funky Buddha Yoga

Image | Instagram @funkybuddhayoga

During my trial with Funky Buddha, I took 19 classes and was never disappointed. Two months later, I’m officially a member and striving to improve my practice. When I want to switch things up, I find a scenic setting outside or attend a community class. Since sticking with Yoga, I’ve increased my flexibility, strength, and coordination. Beyond the physical rewards, Yoga has also taught me to:

Embrace things both in and outside my comfort zone
Stay in the moment and be present
 Simply breathe and relax
Find new ways of approaching life

Funky Buddha is a gem in the Grand Rapids area. If you haven’t tried it yet, go for it! They have 3 locations in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Forest Hills. Sign up for new customer specials, check out one of their events, or take a class for beginners. Happy bending!

barre studio

6 Grand Rapids Barre Studios That Will Make You Feel the Burn

The secret’s out – workouts don’t have to be full of push-ups and high knee runs to see serious results. (Hallelujah!) The Barre studio movement has arrived in full force around West Michigan, showing everyone that tiny, pulsing movements that are hyper-focused or long fluid motions that are repetitive and centering are just as, or even more, effective than any boot camp. Using a combination of postures inspired by ballet, yoga, and Pilates, barre studio classes focus on isometric strength training (think fiery pulses) combined with high reps and small movements.  Spend a sweat session in any local barre class and we guarantee you’ll stumble out satisfied and ready for more. Here are our top 6 Grand Rapids Barre Studios worth checking out!

Studio Barre

barre studio

This girl walks into a barre…

That’s the catchphrase of this trendy boutique barre studio located in Breton Village. Think all of the fun and none of the hangover as the “barre-tenders” serve up roughly 5 classes a day focused on exceptionally effective and personalized barre workouts for all fitness levels. The musically driven 60-minute sweat session makes you dig deep physically while the energetic instructors keep you mentally “in it” until the end. Looking for a fun place to go with great music and a results-centered workout? This is it.

The Barre Code

barre studio

Live by the barre code and find strength in the struggle. We think this place has what it takes to become a GR mainstay and you will too when you visit the newest addition to the local Barre circuit. Located in historic Heritage Hill Downtown, the Barre Code’s signature class is a 50-minute session focused on lengthening and strengthening your muscles, incorporating the best of Barre and challenging you to the max. Beyond Barre, the studio also offers Barre-dio, a class that combines heart-pumping cardio movement with dynamic pulses to bring you the best of both worlds and Brawl, recognized by Self Magazine as one of the best workouts in the country! If you’re an old hat at Barre and you’re interested in switching it up and trying something new – the Barre Code is perfect for you.

Beer City Barre

barre studio

Who knew beer and working out went hand in hand? Located on Monroe in Downtown GR, this sweat centric class incorporates yoga, Pilates, and dance elements into a fast-paced workout. Pulse like crazy till fatigue, then ramp up your heart rate with large range movements to make every minute count. Low impact? Yes. Huge results? Oh yeah. Have fun with weights, balls, bands, rings and your own body resistance to create long, lean muscles while you refocus your mind for the week ahead. Beer City Barre’s first trial class is only $20.00, and you get the second class free! That’s $20 for two classes – a great deal for anyone interested in trying out the Barre method for the first time.

Pure Barre

barre studio

Tried and true, Pure Barre Grand Rapids is probably the most well-known of the Barre programs around the area. Located in Knapp’s Corner, this intimate and friendly studio offers approximately 7 different classes a day (that’s a lot!) and is one of the fastest, yet safest ways to change your body. Each class is similarly structured, focusing on warm up, arms, toned thighs, seat lifting exercises, core work, and a nice cooldown. It’s low impact, so your joints won’t feel it the next day, and helps you strengthen and tone without the pain. If you’re looking for a stable workout routine, that’s effective and fun, this is for you!

Alkalign Studios 

barre studio

Alkalign takes barre to whole new level, offering classes that focus on targeting strength, alignment, cardio and nutrition training to let you find your own dynamic life balance. They combine barre, yoga, Pilates, and nutrition consultation to offer a fun and well-balanced way to stay fit and have fun. A community focused studio located in Ada, they even provide a supervised playroom for children birth – 10 years, so busy moms can still feel grounded with a holistic health-focused workout.

The Dailey Method

Variety, that’s what comes to mind when we talk about the Dailey Method. A welcoming, purposeful place, the Dailey Method in Eastown starts with the basic, then ramps up to an action-packed, heart beating workout. Here, clients receive individual education and a hands-on holistic approach that makes a real difference. And who knew you could cycle AND practice barre at the same time? Their Daily Cycle class does just that, integrating elements of both into a well-rounded hour of power. For local moms, they also provide an infant and kids’ room, so you can get a workout in while your kiddos have a playdate. Win-win!

Get your best barre outfit out of that closet and hit the pavement to check out these awesome studios. Did we miss an amazing studio in your neck of the woods? Did you try a class? Let us know by commenting below. We would love to hear from you. Be sure to subscribe to GR Healthy Living for all our latest updates and health happenings in West Michigan.


yoga studio

14 Incredible Yoga Studios in Grand Rapids

Finding the right yoga studio can be tough to navigate. Some appreciate meditative, calming yoga, while others prefer sweltering heat. Fortunately, the yoga movement is thriving in Grand Rapids and there are plenty of fantastic studios where you can practice. With our list of 14 tried-and-true list places, we’ve made it easier for you to find your flow!

Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse

yoga studios

Funky Buddha Yoga was the first hot yoga studio in Grand Rapids and has since become an institution in West Michigan. They offer hot yoga that is ridiculously fun, sweaty, relevant to everyday life. This place is all about getting active: you will sweat, and you will work! The studio has a Bohemian-Esque studio complete with an artistic chalkboard wall, strung lights, and lively color. Given the popularity, the classes are typically packed, so get there early. During the summer, they host free yoga in the park and stand up paddleboard yoga. You can find a Funky Buddha studio in Holland, Eastown, and Forest Hills.

AM Yoga

yoga studio

Through service, community, and love, AM’s mission is to help you discover who you are by removing what you aren’t. As their name says, AM is practicing the state of I AM – Sadhana (daily spiritual practice) + Satsang (sacred gathering) + Seva (selfless service). The 60-minute Vinyasa classes are the perfect balance of stretch and strength training. If you’re in need of a longer, deeper stretch, then try out Yin Vinyasa. Find time to meditate with classes like Meditation Vinyasa and New Moon Meditation. They also offer community classes in beautiful spaces like the GRAM and other trendy spots.

Yoga Fever

yoga studio

Yoga Fever combines the ancient science of yoga with contemporary warm and hot vinyasa yoga classes. The tastefully decorated studio has a spacious lobby and practice room. Their vigorous classes deliver exceptional results and continual advancement in a supported environment. You’ll have room during class to focus your energy and get stronger in each pose. The instructors take the time to explain what your body should be doing. They pay particular attention to the actual history and philosophy of yoga. Their practice is inclusive, diverse, creative, and positive!

Kula Yoga

yoga studio

Looking for a downtown studio where everybody knows your name? Then Kula Yoga is the place to be. They aim to provide quality yoga instruction and it’s great for those on a budget. Kula is an inclusive, judgment-free zone. Yogis are encouraged to explore their practices under the guidance of knowledgeable and nurturing instructors. They offer different types of classes as well as frequent workshops designed to enrich your knowledge, practice, and foundation of yoga. The historic space is beautiful and the authentic instructors encourage students to explore and discover their personal practice.

Twisted Hot Yoga

yoga studio

If you want to turn up the heat, head to Twisted. Twisted’s hot yoga classes are 99 degrees and 45% humidity, to be exact! Their Push and Chill classes are not heated, but there is residual heat, which keeps the room nice and warm. They also offer an encouraging environment and their instructors are friendly, positive, and genuine. Each teacher has a slightly different specialty, but all are knowledgeable and passionate about yoga. The studio is the perfect balance between not too big and not too small. And the cool lavender towel they place on your forehead at the end of class is heavenly.

Grand Rapids Healing Yoga

yoga studio

If you’ve experienced trauma or want to use yoga as therapy, then GR Healing Yoga is the place for you. They encourage self-care, learning to befriend the body, and connection to the present moment. All teachers strive to protect students from physical, emotional, and psychological harm. The instructors are carefully trained and follow a complete code of ethics. They will empower you to feel stronger in your body, mind, and spirit.

From the Heart Yoga & Tai Chi Center

yoga studio

This studio is guaranteed to give you a fun, challenging, and potentially eye-opening workout for both body and heart. Founded by Behnje Masson and Rick Powell, From the Heart was one of the first studios opened in Grand Rapids. The expert instructors attract multiple internationally known teachers every year. The alignment-based principles will make you stronger, more flexible, and empowered. From the Heart is a beautiful and serene space with a welcoming atmosphere. They offer explicit instruction, a great workout, and time to get focused and relaxed. You will learn yoga in a way that prevents injury.

The Yoga Studio

yoga studio

The Yoga Studio instructors are trained in the Iyengar system of hatha yoga. They focus on precise alignment and uses props (blocks, straps, bolsters, blankets, the wall), so there is less risk of injury. Teachers of Iyengar Yoga are held to a high standard of knowledge that is rigorously maintained through ongoing study. The Iyengar philosophy connects both the body and mind through its holistic approach. Class sizes are small, so each student receives individual attention and guidance. The Yoga Studio will encourage your pursuit of self ­knowledge while providing a well-rounded practice.

PeaceLab Yoga

yoga studio

The Mission of PeaceLab Yoga is to create a warm, inviting yoga community where yogis of all experience levels can come together to share in the Art and Science of Yoga. They aim to empower each student on their path towards wellbeing, growth, and personal fulfillment. PeaceLab Yoga strives to offer the highest quality yoga programs in a serious, yet playful, environment. They accept you as you are and know when to challenge what you thought you couldn’t do. PeaceLab will also help you slow down and deepen your practice, work on peak poses, and learn about the elements of yoga history and philosophy. You can find a PeaceLab studio in Grandville!

Yoga Blue Studio

yoga studio

This studio’s admirable mission is to support the police, fire, medical professionals, their families, and the communities they serve. They offer a counterbalance to high-intensity, high adrenaline work days through breath and mindfulness. A unique feature is that they provide Broga, yoga for men, which combines core-strengthening, muscle-toning, cardio-working, stress-reducing, clarity-enhancing yoga postures with functional fitness exercises.

Renew Mama Studio

yoga studio

With a niche focus on motherhood, Renew Mama Studio provides a variety of classes, services, and resources to both prenatal and postnatal mothers. Their classes are taught by instructors who are specifically trained in this area. They also aid in the physical and emotional demands of labor, birth, and motherhood. Come in for a little “me time” or bring your baby for a great bonding experience. Renew Mama Studio is hyperfocused on building community and supporting women during their motherhood transition.

Seva Yoga

yoga studio

Seva offers a variety of classes that can be physically challenging or more calming and meditative. The teachers, atmosphere, and culture of Seva are all-inclusive and nurturing. The studio has a lively energy, like-minded people, and fun music! It’s a wonderful space for a breath-based, soulful practice. Great teachers, community, and the studio itself is beautiful and relaxing. No matter your style, no matter your experience level, there is a class for you.

Cascade Yoga Studio

yoga studio

At Cascade Yoga Studio, the teachers work from their heart. Each class offers a different kind of practice (vinyasa, gentle, therapeutic, etc), and they’re all beneficial. The relaxed environment, positive vibes, and special classes (yoga with live music, meditation) all make this studio unique.

Iyengar Yoga Center of Grand Rapids

Iyengar Yoga Center

Iyengar yoga develops strength, endurance, and optimal body alignment, in addition to flexibility and relaxation. The Iyengar method also focuses on self-awareness, intelligent evaluation, and profound inward reflection. All classes at the Iyengar Yoga Center are taught by experienced, dedicated, and rigorously trained Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYT). The Iyengar Yoga Center has a beautiful new facility and the classes will leave you feeling refreshed and energized.

MVP Sports Clubs

New Year, New Fitness Goals? Tips for Staying on Track

At the beginning of the New Year, it’s safe to say most of us will be setting fitness goals or resolutions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, by the end of January, many of us fall back into our former routines and our everyday streak of working out diminishes. We spoke with Dave Nykerk, Director of Fitness at MVP Sports Clubs, to find out how to make our fitness goals and resolutions last. He offers realistic and inspiring advice on what it takes to feel accomplished, healthier, and stay on track for good. And if you’ve already thrown in the towel on your resolution, don’t sweat it! It’s not too late to bounce back!

Meet Dave Nykerk, MVP Sports Clubs Fitness Director

MVP Sports Clubs

Tell us about yourself.

I Attended the University of Michigan where I played baseball and earned my degree in movement science. During my time at UofM, I had three different surgeries, which got me involved with physical therapy and more focused on fitness. When I graduated, I started personal training at the MVP Holland location for a handful of years and then became the fitness manager for another 3-4 years. I loved being around athletes, fitness, and just people in general and making their lives happier. From there, it grew into the different facets of fitness, and I realized how much of an impact you can make not just in the athletic world, but in someone’s life through weight loss, better movement, and changing their habits. Consequently, I became more passionate about the fitness realm and not just sports performance. I recently stepped into the Fitness Director position at MVP Sports Clubs.

How to Stay on Track

MVP Sports Clubs

With the new year, we all know people are more enthusiastic about setting fitness goals and hitting the gym. How do you encourage people to maintain their fitness regimen and not fall off the wagon?

Start with the why. Ask yourself why do you want to be around fitness? What are your goals? For every person “the why” is going to be different. Some people it might be to look better; for some, it might be so they can keep up with their kids; for others, it might be so they can walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. It’s important for everyone to realize why they want to be involved with fitness.

The second step is developing realistic short and long-term goals. Realistic goal setting is super important, just so they’re obtainable and you don’t get burnt out. By a short-term goal, think a month or under, that way you can feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete those goals. Also set a long-term goal, three months or longer, so you have something to continue working toward throughout your fitness journey.

Finally, find a support system, so when you do hit those valleys, and you don’t feel like working out, you have accountability. Whether it’s family or friends, a friend that you met at the gym, a personal trainer, or a group exercise instructor, you have someone pushing you through those times when you don’t want to work out.

How to Get Started

MVP Sports Clubs

What advice do you give to those just starting their fitness journey?

Start slow and don’t think you need to jump into everything all at once. Make sure you find activities that you enjoy–if exercise isn’t fun, or fun to some degree, it’s not sustainable. A common mistake is that people jump in, are super motivated and excited, and they plateau and get burnt out fast because they start at a pace that they’re not able to sustain.

Be confident and don’t compare yourself to others in the gym and don’t worry about what they’re thinking about you. Go back to your why. Think about why you’re there and focus on that. Don’t be so worried about what other people are thinking or what they’re even doing.
Often people are discouraged by setbacks and failure. How do you recommend people stay motivated and bounce back after neglecting their fitness routine?

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone goes through those valleys and lows where they’re unmotivated. Just realize it’s perfectly natural for someone to go through this. During those times, focus on fitness as a lifestyle choice–it’s not a temporary decision to be fit–it’s a long-term lifestyle choice. Concentrating on the lifestyle component helps people get back on track quicker, minimizes the lows, and gets people motivated to continue working out.

Also, mix up your exercise routine, so that when you do feel like you’re hitting those lows, find something new and exciting. Whether it’s in a group exercise class at one of our MVP Sports Clubs locations or trying a new program, switching things up will help kickstart your workout routine if you’re finding yourself in a low.

Don’t be Intimidated

MVP Sports Clubs

The idea of fitness can be intimating or misunderstood. Many believe that you need to look a certain way or be a die-hard gym fanatic to be fit. How do you think people should perceive fitness?

Fitness is a solution to helping you live a healthier, happier life. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to fit into one mold of lifting weights, take group exercise classes, or swim, play basketball or tennis. As long as the activity makes you feel better and gets you moving, that’s what’s important. Fitness is a means to a healthier life. Again, going back to fitness as a lifestyle; there’s not just one form of fitness or one right answer.

What MVP Offers

MVP Sports Clubs

With the new year, how do you encourage people to achieve their fitness goals and see results? What does MVP offer to help people achieve their goals?

It’s essential that when you start fitness, to make sure you find a couple of different ways to track your progress. One way is to measure your initial weight, your body fat percentage, or get circumferences done around your body with a trainer. It could also be doing a physical assessment, so seeing how fast you can run a mile. That way, you can measure your results.

Everyone views success differently, so having a starting point is essential. Somone might lose 10 pounds by doing exercise, and someone else might not lose any weight but lose 3% body fat. It comes down to how a person feels, and not the tangible numbers that you see on paper.

MVP Sports Clubs

Ways to Get Started at MVP:

1) A game plan session. When a new member signs up at the club, they get a 1-hour consultation session with a trainer to help get them on the right path to reach their goals. This is the perfect time for MVP members to obtain some measurements if they feel like it’s a good fit for them.

2) Another option for someone is personal training, especially if they need more individualized attention.

3) Take group exercises that we offer. We have over 20 different types of group exercise classes that are free with your membership. Some group exercises that are more popular right now are TFW (Training For Warriors) and our Zone Training class because it incorporates heart rate monitoring and immediate feedback through technology. Yoga is becoming increasingly popular because people are gaining a better understanding of the mental and physical benefits.

4) The MVP eight-week challenge coming up in February called the Activate Challenge, which is geared toward members that are new to the fitness world.


MVP Training for Warriors

If you love a motivating and challenging high-intensity fitness workout, then you must try the MVP Training for Warrior’s Program. Before I break it down and what to expect, here’s how it all got started.

TFW Founder: Martin Rooney

MVP training for warriors

An internationally recognized trainer, speaker, author, and pioneer of strength and conditioning, Martin holds a degree in health and exercise science. Not only has he earned impressive credentials, but he also trains experienced fighters, world-class athletes, and coaches. He’s written eight books, regularly contributes to Men’s Health Magazine, and develops NFL training programs. Featured in several media outlets, TFW is now nationally recognized.

About Training for Warriors

MVP training for warriors

TFW was designed for participants to develop muscular strength and mental courage to take on challenges in their life. This holistic approach includes a proper warmup, strength, endurance, flexibility, and speed training taught by a certified TFW coach. TFW encourages participants to make an effort in all of the following areas: strength, metabolic, and speed training, nutrition, and flexibility. MVP Sports Club offers two types of TFW classes with distinctive styles of training.

TFW Strength

MVP training for warriors

TFW Strength concentrates on developing muscular strength and mental endurance. This holistic approach includes proper warm-up, strength, endurance, flexibility and speed training. When I took the strength class, we used various weights and machines. The instructor taught us how to use more complicated equipment, which was very helpful, as heavyweights typically intimate me and I haven’t prioritized learning how to use them.

TFW Hurricane: Metabolic

MVP training for warriors

MVP training for warriors

TFW hurricane is comprised of energy circuits, Tabata training, and actual hurricane workouts. Each training session incorporates an element of speed training and is also designed to develop muscular strength and mental endurance. Exercise science has conclusively shown that turning up the intensity yields higher results, in a shorter amount of time — from increased muscle gain and fat loss to improved cardiovascular fitness and performance.

MVP training for warriors

I especially appreciate this class because we use different equipment each time, including medicine balls, TRX, ropes, treadmills, and the sleds. The challenging intervals are guaranteed to make you sweat, and the class will be over before you know it!

MVP training for warriors

The Turf

Another impressive element of TFW is the turf space. Each class is set apart on the turf and uniquely designed for this area. Whether it’s sprinting to a different yard line or hitting the turf for some abs, the grass adds some cushion and is an excellent way to reduce the chance of impact-related injury. Compared to hardwood floors, artificial grass aids in shock absorption, so jumping, landing, and cutting is less risky.

MVP training for warriors

MVP offers TFW classes at all of their facilities. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete, you’ll find success with the program.  After training with TFW for two months, I’ve increased my weights and push myself harder each time.

MVP training for warriors

It’s the perfect time to try a new workout regimen, and the MVP Training for Warriors program may be just what you need. Martin recommends doing the TFW program four days a week. Two of those days, complete resistance training or strength work, and on the other two, crush hurricanes or high-intensity interval training. Regardless, starting somewhere will only bring you closer to your health and fitness goals!

Top Outdoor Fitness Destinations in Grand Rapids

Getting active doesn’t have to be a hassle. This summer, I have made it my goal to find affordable ways to get fit without going to the gym. So far, I have found that the best alternative is the great outdoors. You heard it right! There are so many ways to get active outdoors, and it’s free!  Summers can pass quickly in the mitten, as many of you probably know, therefore you don’t want to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine. Here are some of my favorite outdoor workout spots and how I utilize the space around me:

The Stairs on Division and Belknap Park

There is a flight of stairs near my house that I like to utilize for some High-Intensity Training. I tend to do about 10-15 sprints bottom to top. This workout always makes me super sweaty, but it’s really beneficial. If you engage your muscles correctly, it will work your entire body; your core should be firm and your arms and legs should be pumping. If you do not have access to stairs, you can always substitute with hills or bleachers. They will still engage the same muscles and give the same results! You can find stairs or hills in almost any neighborhood. Utilize the bleachers at your local high school or find a sledding spot. A few popular destinations that you should definitely check out:

  • Stairs on Division located downtown.  After a few sets, this incredibly steep set will leave you a sweaty, breathless mess. 
  • Belknap Park has 2 awesome hill slopes behind the baseball field. These are also great for lunges and intense hill training.

The Stairs on Division

Stair Workout

Downtown & the Grand River

I enjoy taking a run around my local neighborhood, but one of my favorite places to run is right through downtown Grand Rapids. You can run past the infamous Blue Bridge, stop to stretch in Rosa Parks Circle and maybe even stop for a crafted beverage or coffee after your run. There are many different routes you can take so it never gets boring or repetitive—plus you get to see the beauty of downtown.

Rosy Mound Nature Trail & Millennium Park

One of my favorite hiking spots is Rosy Mound Nature Trail, which is near the lakeshore. I enjoy hiking this trail because I am able to hike to a gorgeous view while still getting a solid workout in. The trail has a challenging terrain, from stairs to inclined paths, and I am able to engage multiple muscle groups. If this is too far, no worries!  Millennium Park, closer to downtown, has more scenic paths to run or jog. It’s a quiet park that cuts through the woods and near a few lakes, making it a great place to clear your head and get active.

Millennium Park

Riverside Park

A local park can be as functional as a gym. Parks have a lot of green space for you to do some stretching, yoga, and circuit training. Personally, I love using my own body to work out, which can be referred to as Calisthenics. I am able to do these workouts virtually anywhere, like a park or my backyard. The playground set can also work as a CrossFit-style gym. For example, you can use monkey bars to do pull-ups or hanging ab crunches, or you can use the park bench to do some tricep push-ups. The park has a lot of potential, if you’re creative!

On top of all these wonderful outdoor fitness destinations, Grand Rapids also provides many free outdoor fitness classes throughout the summer. Funky Buddha yoga studio even holds free yoga classes in select parks, which is awesome.

Exercise can be simple! You don’t need expensive memberships or fancy yoga clothes. Embrace what the universe has given us and get active outdoors. These are my personal and favorite places to get active outdoors, what are yours?

Meet the Author

Meet local blogger, Alyssa Waid, the creator & owner of Pretty, Young, & Motivated.  Alyssa’s goal is to reach young women who struggle with self-confidence and finding comfort in being who they are. A senior at GVSU, she loves exploring what the world has to offer, traveling, and meeting new people. Her blog offers health, fitness, & lifestyle advice while encouraging women to be confident in their own skin. Stay tuned for more from Alyssa, who will be regularly contributing to GR Healthy Living. Also, you can find her on IG: blogger_alyssa.

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Trail Running:  Manna for the Soul

The other day, I went out for a run with one my favorite fitness muses. Our plan was open–we just wanted to get a few miles in before a busy social weekend. Luckily, serendipity intervened, letting me be stroller-free, so we opted to run the trails surrounding my home instead of the roads and neighborhood streets. Suddenly, I found myself in the mentor position after years of being the learner. Which, in turn, allowed me to be present and enjoy the experience even more! Trail-running is absolutely my most favorite form of exercise. Road-running is second, with hot yoga taking a close third. They all have their purposes: trail-running fills my runner-soul; road-running gets the job done when I need a quick pick-me-up; hot yoga is a special “treat-yo’self” session I fit in when I can. Once you run the trails a few times, you’ll know what I mean. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over my many years of loving the trails:

Image result for trail running

#1: Start Slow: As with any new skill you’re learning, it’s best to start slow. Trail-running is no joke. Especially when you’re new, you need to pay attention to the trail’s curves, roots, uphills, and downhills. Not only that, but you’re also just going to be way slower than out on the road, so put away your speed-demon expectations and let yourself enjoy the ride!

#2: Expect to be in Oxygen-Debt: Speaking of a “ride,” like a roller-coaster, trails usually have a lot more hills at a steeper grade than you might be used to if you spend a lot of time on the road. Even when you reduce your speed, you’re going to be engaging muscles you don’t normally use, making your body work harder at a slower pace. When you work harder, your breathing will become more labored, a sure sign of the oxygen-debt that happens in an anaerobic workout. Basically, you’ll be able to get more fit in less time.

#3: Reduce Your Distance: You don’t need to run as far or as long to get the same fitness perks with trail-running. Even when I’m training for a road-race, I like to get in a solid trail-run at least once a week to keep my muscles interested and on-point.

#4: Your Running Gait Will Change: What I mean by this is that the terrain is so different, that you will be running differently to keep up. This is a good thing, even if it’s hard at first. You’ll find yourself more on your toes; running more in a line (if the trail is narrow); conversely, running more back-and-forth (when you’re avoiding roots, rocks, and holes); using your arms for balance when running downhill (chicken-elbows, anyone?); picking  up your knees (more root-avoidance); and engaging your glutes a ton more to power up hills. It’s totally invigorating–after a while.

Image result for trail running

#5: Enjoy it! This should really be the firsttip. If there was one thing I could choose about hitting the trails that I love the best, it’s the sense of peace and calm that comes over me when I’m out there. There’s always a moment where I feel like I can finally lift my head up, look around (for a second or two anyway..always be on the watch for roots and rocks!), and take a real deep breath of thankfulness and peace.  It is truly manna for the soul.

#6: Don’t Worry About What You Wear: Trail runners are notorious for their grungy running gear. Old, torn-up tees; 10-year-old puffy shorts; sweat-stained hats (to keep off the biting flies and bugs in the summer); and black socks (with or without holes) are the name of the game. There ain’t no shame in well-loved running gear that just feels good! No one’s going to see you anyway, right? If you feel like wearing your nice stuff, that’s okay too. Trail runners are a welcoming bunch; they know that once the bug hits you, you’ll convert eventually.

About the Author: Janelle is an avid runner of all terrains, educator of all learners (specifically English to 16-year-olds), and lover of all things books, woods, and music. Five years ago, she became a BAMR (bad-ass mother runner), and the world hasn’t been the same since. Exploring ways to find peace and joy in her life, all the while laughing at her mistakes with humility and grace is her mission. In Janelle’s free time, you’ll see her playing with her toddlers, laughing at her husband’s jokes, reading a myriad of novels and nonfiction, and hitting up Twitter for great ideas in the classroom, in running, and in leading a peaceful life. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter: @janellemiles

YMCA’s Les Mills BodyPump

If you struggle with working out solo, are a beginner at the gym, or need motivation, then group fitness is an excellent solution. From Spin to Yoga to Tabata, I’ve attended hundreds of group fitness classes. Even after a long, exhausting day at work, joining a group of people ready to move is energizing and motivating. I especially appreciate group fitness instructors who light a fire under your butt and encourage you to bring your best.

Getting Started with Les Mills BodyPump

Image via @bodypumpofficial | Instagram

One of my fav instructors, Teresa, is a certified BodyPump instructor at the YMCA and I’ve attended several of her classes. Not only does Teresa make exercise fun, she gives the support needed to build confidence and stamina. I asked Teresa all about her experience as a BodyPump instructor, and she provided some awesome insight on the benefits of the class and why you should give it a try.

About the Program

Image via @bodypumpofficial | Instagram

BodyPump, a Les Mills International Program founded in New Zealand, is a group barbell workout class that tones and sculpts your entire body. The choreographed moves are based on scientific research set to motivating music, with the support and encouragement of the instructor. It’s possible for members to burn 540 calories or more as they work through each set with lower weights and higher repetitions. From the warm-up track which gets the body loosened up, all the way to the cool down track (10 tracks total), BodyPump keeps members motivated and hungry for more reps and improved results.

Teresa began her journey as a BodyPump instructor 5 years ago and finds it incredibly rewarding. It may sound cliché, but behind the 60-minute block of reps, sweat, and music is so much more than what meets the eye!

Benefits of the Class

Image via @bodypumpofficial | Instagram

BodyPump brings people together!  Each member is unique and has various reasons for joining the class. Some simply want to tone up, get back into shape, or maintain/gain strength, while others just appreciate making new friends. BodyPump brings in both men and women, young and old, athletic and non-athletic, students to working adults, and all races. Teresa has made many quality lasting relationships with members through instructing that she would have never gained otherwise.

BodyPump builds strength! If you’re not familiar with resistance training, you’ll be in a great position to learn classic weight lifting exercises safely. The choreography includes bottom half pulses, isometric holds, and squats. Members who consistently attend class will see results;  the higher repetitions tone muscles and build endurance. Teresa demonstrates proper form, monitors participants to ensure safety, talks you through each exercise, and is a definite pro!

BodyPump always has fresh choreography! The choreography changes with each new quarterly release. The scientific research created by Les Mills ensures that each new release will utilize different exercises to leave the muscles confused and strengthened. Also, the music is entertaining, energizes the room, and keeps the group motivated.

BodyPump builds confidence! Through new friendships made in class, increased strength and muscle definition, peer-to-peer encouragement, and members holding each other accountable, participants can start to look and feel their best in, and out of class. Since I began BodyPump years ago, I’m now more comfortable working out in the weight section of the gym and have learned some foundational exercises that I incorporate into my daily routine.

So, next time someone invites you to a Les Mills BodyPump class make sure to attend! Build confidence, gain strength, make new friends, sweat to great music, all while challenging your body, mind, and spirit.