The 15 Best Gyms and Workouts in South Florida

It's the new year, and surely you've got resolutions. If those involve weight loss or toning up, here are 15 places that will make it easy to reach your goal.

Know of other great gyms? Tell us in the comments!

15. Orange Theory (Various locations throughout South Florida)
This rapidly growing fitness franchise started right here in Fort Lauderdale. Ellen Lathan, owner of Ellen’s Ultimate Workout in Davie, wanted to create a group fitness class that all levels could participate in and get the highest metabolic conditioning. With cofounder David Long at her side, Ellen has grown Orange Theory into a fitness movement — more than 400 of them are now open in nine countries. Ellen’s science-based method is called the "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" (EPOC), which causes participants to continue burning calories up to 48 hours after the workout. During each 60-minute class, you rotate through three different stations, including treadmills, indoor rowing, and the weight room. No class is exactly the same, as trainers lead you in different routines each day. Since there are only about 24 people in each class, you get the benefits of working with a personal trainer and being in a group environment at the same time. This high-intensity workout will give you results in no time.

14. Ellen’s Ultimate Workout (5173 S. University Dr., Davie)
Speaking of Orange Theory, let's throw the founder's original gym on this list. A complete gym without the franchise feel, Ellen’s Ultimate Workout makes you feel more like you are part of a family, not a movement. There is only one location, but it packs a punch. Not only do you have access to a complete weight room, but also nine different styles of classes, including pilates, hot yoga, interval training, spinning, ballet barre — even mommy-and-me workouts. With its own hot yoga studio and equipment for all different types of exercises, you don’t have to pick just the ballet barre, weights, or cardio. Mix and match your classes any day of the week with your membership. And, of course, you get to take Ellen’s signature ultimate workout, which mirrors the one you’d experience at Orange Theory. Rowing, running, and weight training are all a part of this high-impact routine.

13. The Health Colonel's Beach Boot Camp 

It's not a gym per se — it's better than a gym! You may have seen Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein yelling at groups of men and women on Fort Lauderdale beach long before fitness boot camps were a thing. With 30 years of military experience, Colonel Bob has been training men and women for ten years here in South Florida.  Both tough and entertaining, he uses everything along the beach for his workouts such as the stairs for running, the railings for squats, and the sand for crunches. “Fatigue is the gatekeeper to progress”, he says. "Squats aren't hard — they're romantic!"

12. The Gym Fort Lauderdale Beach (3001 SE Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale)
This small fitness center right next to the ocean was a bit run down for years, but in 2013 was bought and remodeled. It has all the usual stuff — weight room, classes, trainers — but the pièce de résistance is its rooftop workout area. Few things are more exhilarating than doing a sunrise spin class as you watch the sun come up over the water. Bonus: there's a smoothie bar. 

11. Pure Barre (Various locations throughout South Florida)
Yes, this is a chain (with 300 studios in the U.S.), but we're glad there's a franchise here. Dancers always seem to be in the best shape — perhaps because they train on the barre. Former professional dancer and choreographer Carrie Dorr created Pure Barre so that women could tone their most difficult areas: hips, thighs, abs, and back of the arms. This exercise system uses small isometric movements to burn fat, sculpt muscles, and create long, lean physiques. Previous dance experience is not required. All you need are leggings, sticky socks, and a can-do attitude. (Just imagine you’re Alex in Flashdance.)

10. Barkan Method Hot Yoga (2370 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 2240 NW 19th St. #604, Boca Raton)
Before Madonna turned yoga into a hobby for trophy moms, Jimmy Barkan studied the practice seriously in Calcutta, India. He opened his first yoga studio in Fort Lauderdale in 1983 and is still training yogis here today. The moves will whip you into shape but are also treated as serious mental and spiritual exercises. Your teacher will lead you in a series of poses and stretches in a heated room to strengthen and lengthen your muscles. Some of the benefits include relieving stress, uncluttering the mind, and practicing endurance. Hot yoga, in particular, is said to help your muscles stretch more easily and eliminate toxins from your body since it increases the production of sweat.

9. CrossFit (Various locations throughout South Florida)
CrossFit is not just a workout; it’s a cult. Kidding! But because it achieves great results while also bringing people together in hour-long group workouts, some people get addicted. This challenging fitness routine was started in 2000 and has since swept the nation. It incorporates high-intensity interval training, powerlifting, plyometrics, gymnastics, and other types of exercises using barbells to get you completely ripped. Certified CrossFit trainers work at licensed gyms and run you through a series of different exercises which may include climbing ropes, squatting with weights, rowing, and other moves. This workout will kick your butt even if you are in great shape. Added bonus: the co-ed classes bring together a lot of hot men and women, so it's ripe as a pickup joint, too. "Crossfit couples" are kind of a thing. There are more than 150 CrossFit affiliated gyms in South Florida alone — including CrossFit Empirical, CrossFit Riptide, CrossFit Predators, and Crossfit Playground. To find a CrossFit gym near you visit

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