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The 15 Best Gyms and Workouts in South Florida

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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 crossfit.com.

8. The Wellness Center at Broward Health Medical Center (1600 S Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale)
This gym is kind of hidden on the on the eighth floor of the hospital at Broward Health, where there are amazing views of the city from giant wraparound windows. It's small but offers some unique perks: really clean showers, half-hour aerobics classes for busy people, nutritionist services, and cute doctors on the treadmill next to you. 

7. LA Fitness (Various locations throughout South Florida)
One magic word: childcare. LA Fitness is nothing new —- it's the mega gym that first opened in Southern California in 1984 and has become the largest fitness franchise in the United States with more than 800 locations. It's tried-and-true, and with everything you need there — weight room, indoor pool, racquetball and basketball courts, group fitness classes, a sauna, and, yes, a kids' club — there's no room left for excuses. With a membership, you can visit any location in the country, and the cost is as low as  $30 a month.

6. Prancercise 
One of the most interesting people to ever emerge from Broward County is Joanna Rohrback, the petite and gentle woman whose unique form of exercising took over the world in 2013. Prancercising was such a weird, awkward, fun, graceful, silly way of moving that you couldn't help but try it. Rohrback was featured in everything from a pistachio commercial to a John Mayer video. She's still prancing in 2016, and the exercise is still a fun calorie burner. Hardcore fans can even become certified Prancercise instructors now. 

There's no cost! Prancercise anywhere!

5. Paddleboarding 
If you're not out on the water frequently, why do you even live here? Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become quite popular in South Florida, with dozens of shops offering rentals and sales. Though the exercise looks like it would tone your arms, funnily enough, it actually has a great effect on your upper legs and abs, as you use your core to maintain balance. Plus, you'll get some good ol' vitamin D being out in the sunshine. (Bring sunscreen!) Sunrise Paddleboards even offers paddleboard yoga with instructors from the amazing and well loved Red Pearl yoga studio. Or, for a different experience, try the nighttime SUP experience at Precision Paddleboards. 

4. Indoor Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is a great form of exercise because it builds strength in your upper and lower body. A one-hour climb session can burn up to 700 calories, plus you’ll develop flexibility and boost your brain function as you learn to maneuver through different routes. The movement of climbing up a cliff requires body awareness and problem-solving skills. To shape-up your workout and have some fun too, go over to Coral Cliffs in Fort Lauderdale. They have facilities for all levels of climbers, including 87 top-roped routes, 25 lead routes, bouldering, slabs, aretes, overhangs, arches, and roofs.

3. Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex (501 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale)
This place is quintessential Fort Lauderdale. Although the Swimming Hall of Fame left the premises and promised upgrades to the facility continually get bogged down in politics, we are still lucky to have this massive facility with three pools, diving boards, swim teams, and classes. Instructors are rad watermen and -women, and admission is cheap at $4 a pop for adults. Swimming doesn't even feel like a workout when it's this much fun in this great waterfront setting. 

2. Sky Zone Trampoline Park (1834 SW Second St., Pompano Beach)
Remember when you huffed and puffed while jumping on your trampoline in the backyard? Well, it turns out it’s not just for having some childlike fun, it can also be used as a workout. At the Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Fort Lauderdale you can take Skyfitness and Skyrobics classes that burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. This is a low-impact sport, so you won’t damage those tender knees, and it combines calisthenics, core exercises, and strength-building to get you in shape. When you’re done with the class, head over to the open jump zone where you can play ultimate dodgeball, Sky Slam basketball, or enter the foam zone and flip into a giant pit of foam cubes. You might have so much fun that you burn a few more calories in the process.

1. Run or Walk along Fort Lauderdale Beach 
It's 100 percent free, and besides getting drunk at the Elbo Room, there's no experience more distinctly Fort Lauderdalian than strutting along the palm trees and neon lights of the waterfront while sucking up some ocean breeze. So if you don’t have the cash for a gym membership, you can always run all over Fort Lauderdale to lose those pounds. Need motivation?  The Runner’s Depot Run Club has a weekly run at 6:30 on Thursdays. Meet in front of the store, do a short run, and meet new people afterward during the social meet-up event.

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