Better, Faster, Stronger
Get moving with the area’s best hot spots for toning the body, honing the mind and improving one’s overall quality of life
by Jennifer Updike

With the dawning of every New Year come resolutions, good intentions and promises to be better. For some, such self-improvement will come from the quest for finding a new job … or breaking the chains of a stale relationship … or finally penning the great American novel that has been waiting too long to be written. For others, however, making oneself better will be about how we look and feel about our physical selves—dropping a few pounds, toning parts of the body that have grown soft, or improving endurance in preparation for a physical challenge such as a marathon, triathlon or 5K. 

Of course, change is never easy, which is why many people need a little push. Fortunately, the Philadelphia area’s fitness-focused population has bountiful options for achieving whatever self-improvement goals stand before them. Our readers, by way of our website, cast their votes for the region’s best places to sweat, hone and tone—or, in matters of chiropractic care or injury rehabilitation, to prepare their bodies do so. The benefits of exercise, after all, are about more than just how we look in the mirror. By living a more active lifestyle and by simply striving to be better versions of ourselves in our younger years, one can attain not only a leaner body but also a sharper mind, not to mention the potential for a longer, more enriching life for the duration of our days.

So get moving, with help from the businesses featured on the following pages, otherwise known as our 2014 Best of Fitness.

Best of Fitness 2014
12th Street Gym
215-985-4092 |

7 Deuce Sports
Medford, N.J.
877-7272-FIT |

acac Fitness & Wellness Centers
West Chester
610-431-7000 |

Visit for details on locations in Hatboro, Warminster and Chalfont.

Blossom Yoga
215-416-3252 |

City Fitness Philadelphia
Visit for details on locations in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital and Northern Liberties neighborhoods.

Cornerstone Fitness Clubs
Visit for details on locations in Doylestown, New Hope and Warrington.

CrossFit Proven
484-947-7476 |

Dhyana Yoga
Visit for details on multiple locations in Philadelphia.

East Coast Karate Institute
Visit for details on locations in Glen Mills and Newtown Square.

Ellis Athletic Center
Newtown Square
610-355-7360 |

FACTS Fitness
Newtown Square
610-355-3236 |

Fitbody Personal Training
610-209-8047 |

Mmaxout West Chester
West Chester
610-314-5424 |

Performance Spine & Sports Medicine
215-504-2223 |

Pure Barre
Visit for details on locations in Center City, Wayne and Haddonfield, N.J.

Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey at RSM Psychology Center LLC
Lawrenceville, N.J.
609-895-1076 |

Synergy Rehabilitation & Chiropractic
215-860-9798 |

We Care Chiropractic/Lighten Up
610-873-6102 |

Yoga on Main
215-482-7877 |

Group Dynamic
Working out with others helps fitness participants “get to the next level”

Exercise of any kind can enrich the body, so William “Tra” Thomas won’t discourage anyone for going to the gym and doing solitary workouts on a treadmill. He’s a much bigger proponent of group fitness, however, which is no surprise considering his 13-year career as an offensive lineman in the National Football League (including 11 seasons as a Philadelphia Eagle), during which he pushed himself to the limit alongside some of the world’s best athletes.

He’s not alone, as evidenced by the surging popularity of rigorous group-based fitness phenomena such as CrossFit, Insanity and P90X. This might also shed light on Thomas’ decision to open his own fitness gym, 7 Deuce Sports LLC, nearly three years ago. At a 7,000-square-foot training center in Medford, N.J., he and his staff provide intensive, group-based training for “every type of clientele,” he says, from would-be professional athletes and weekend warriors to school teachers and stay-at-home moms.

“This style of training is more of what everybody seems to be doing now, and by that I something more challenging in a group-fitness setting,” he says. “You will always have people who just want to get on a treadmill—and I don’t knock it—but a lot of people are moving towards environments where you’re going to have other people pushing you and motivating you to get better.”

Likewise, Pure Barre, a franchise with locations in Philadelphia and Wayne, as well as across the river in Haddonfield, N.J., also offers group-fitness classes for members, most of whom are women. Pure Barre uses small isometric movements centered on a ballet barre to lift, tighten and/or tone the areas of the body with which many women struggle—namely, the core, thighs and seat. By helping women attain significant results quickly—within a month, or about 10 classes—in a supportive environment, the franchise has experienced tremendous growth, according to Noelle Zane, who owns the three area Pure Barre locations.

“It’s a class atmosphere in a boutique-like setting, and it’s non-impact, so it’s very safe, and the exercises are geared by and driven by music,” says Zane, who is originally from Hershey. “It’s a fun atmosphere, and you don’t think about life for an hour; you focus on yourself for an hour. Even though you leave with shaky muscles, because we work each muscle group to fatigue, you leave feeling energized. … It becomes a healthy addiction.

“We’ve had runners change their [race] times because they’ve changed their core through Pure Barre,” she continues. “We’ve had moms that have had an easier pregnancy the second time around because their core was stronger.  … The results you feel in your daily life are astounding.”

At 7 Deuce, Thomas has helped train NFL players such as Jack Crawford of the Oakland Raiders and Earl Watford of the Arizona Cardinals, as well as elite high school and college athletes who play various sports, from baseball to equestrian. Thomas’ concept utilizes three core fundamentals that have proven effective for every athlete: strength, speed and overall technique.

“If you make sure the technique is sound, and you develop the strength and agility, from all that you get stronger, and teaching the right way gets them mentally stronger,” he says. “We’re trying to bring athletes something different to get them to the next level.” —Bill Donahue