Finding a Perfect Fit

By Stephen Hunt

When a new year starts, many people consider this an ideal time for new beginnings, seeing the coming year as a wide landscape full of wonderful possibilities. Maybe the term New Year’s resolution is dated, but something a lot of folks resolve to do better in 2024 is taking better care of themselves whether that’s through eating better or getting more exercise. 

Some begin this journey by formulating their own workout program and handling things themselves while others join one of Frisco’s health clubs and let trained professionals map out their fitness journey. Two popular local fitness destinations are Cowboys Fit and Life Time, great facilities offering different experiences for their members but share a goal of helping their guests feel better about themselves through improved fitness. 
Cowboys Fit opened in 2017 at The Star and now has four locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and another in Pflugerville. Besides offering a football-themed experience where members can use the same equipment in the Cowboys training room, Cowboys Fit guests can choose from a range of boutique-style group fitness classes including cycling, use a recovery lounge, personal training, and football-inspired small group training sessions. 
 “The energy and our staff, those are the two biggest things that separate us [from the competition],” said Rodney Shepherd, Cowboys Fit’s Director of Fitness. “Outside of the fact that we are part of the Cowboys organization, when you walk in, you get that sensory experience of training like the pros. Outside of the different amenities like our cool pool deck on the third floor, which is amazing, it comes down to the people. When you first walk in, [you feel] the energy.”
Like many fitness facilities, Cowboys Fit sees a bump in membership after the first of the year from those making fitness a New Year’s resolution. “We get quite a bit of resolutions. It’s more February/March when we see that growth,” Shepherd said. “It takes a while. January is tough with school, and it’s also still football season with a lot of things going on and, coming off the holidays, it takes people a little bit of time to get back acclimated to their life and schedule.”
 Life Time, on the other hand, formerly known as Life Time Fitness, is a chain of over 170 athletic country clubs across the United States and Canada which currently have over 1.5 million members. Life Time uses health, knowledge, and relationships to make its members feel valued. The Frisco location, Life Time’s 10th in the Metroplex, opened in February 2022 and features saunas, steam rooms, a resort-like pool deck, group fitness studios, pickleball and tennis courts, and a full range of the latest fitness equipment. 
“Well, what Frisco’s been missing for the longest time, and I know that Frisco has had a lot of great options, but none of them have been housed under the same roof,” said Jenn Bodnar, Studio Leader for Life Time Frisco. “What Life Time has is diversity and adaptability. Pickleball is such a big sensation right now, and we have 12 courts. We also have 226 classes included in the membership including everything from barre classes, cycle classes, yoga classes, group training classes with strength and cardio, and heavy weightlifting classes. There’s a lot of variety.”
 Life Time also sees a jolt of new members at the start of each year. “We attract the long-term person because it [their fitness] is an investment. It [membership] is only expensive if you’re not utilizing it and not getting the value out of it. We attract a more serious wellness advocate. It’s not just about being fit. We take a holistic approach through our dynamic personal training and nutrition coaching.”

Best of the Best

Understandably, since Cowboys Fit is part of one of the biggest and most recognizable brands in the sports world, the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL), many of their classes and workouts have a football theme. Among their offerings are the Cowboys Cardio Dance Party, Red Zone, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, Pro FIT Combine, which looks to develop an athlete’s speed, agility, and quickness, Sideline Strength, a full body fat-burning workout that will challenge all the major muscle groups, Tight End Barre, Total Body Blitz, which incorporates strength training, cardio, core work, and flexibility while using the science of muscle confusion to constantly challenge the body with new moves and routines so results never plateau and Pick Six, a popular circuit training program. 
 Four Quarters, another football-themed class, is currently the most popular offering at Cowboys Fit. “There’s essentially four quarters [in the workout], and they’re all in the same room. One quarter of the class is a little bit more intense and high energy, so there’s more anaerobic conditioning,” Shepherd said. “Then, it switches into more of a low-interval training, training into specific heart rate zones. It’s a pretty intense class. We have a great group of instructors. It’s a fast-paced cardio/strength circuit. They do four minutes of cycle drills followed by four minutes of resistance training. It’s essentially four rounds through each and focuses on fat burning, muscle building, and anaerobic conditioning.”
Recovery is understandably a big deal at Cowboys Fit as it offers Hyperice products like massage guns and vibrating foam rollers, a recovery lounge with infrared saunas and cocoon sauna pods, electric cryotherapy machines, HydroMassage and Normatec compression, which helps accelerate leg recovery, a heated lap pool, access to outdoor turf at the Star, and a fuel zone, where members can get smoothies to fuel their next workout. 
Cowboys Fit prides itself on offering the best equipment and the best staff. “We came back with the bulk of our trainers after the pandemic,” Shepherd said. “A lot of our clients came back too. We have a really good training team. I always get feedback from the fitness managers about how well the trainers are doing. They [our members] love their energy and how much they’ve impacted them.”

Truly Something for Everyone

 Life Time realizes that Frisco is a young community full of families and lots of children, so it makes sense that 10,000 square feet at its Frisco property is dedicated solely to kids. “It’s not just a daycare where you drop them off and put them in front of a TV. We offer about 100 classes a week for kids including sports skills, and martial arts,” Bodnar said. 
“We have a tumbling studio. They do dance classes. They can do the same workout as mom and dad might be doing in the kids’ version in their studios downstairs as well as academic labs, board games, and stuff that’s interactive. That’s something that really differentiates us and attracts who we’re after anyway, families. We want you to embrace a healthy way of life from a very young age all throughout adulthood.”
Life Time’s Aurora programming offers classes and programming geared specifically toward those 55 and older, creating what Bodnar calls “a generational experience for kids, mom and dad, and grandparents” where they can all come into their clubs and enjoy all that Life Time has to offer. 
 Offering pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in America for several years running, on its 12 courts at the Frisco facility, is yet another way how Life Time differentiates itself from the competition. The company is a big sponsor of professional pickleball and regularly hosts tournaments at its facilities. 
“It’s something that everybody can do. I will go out there [to our courts] and see people who regularly attend yoga, and they’ve joined the pickleball leagues,” Bodnar said. “It’s very user-friendly. You can be competitive, but you don’t have to be super athletic [to play]. It’s something that everybody can enjoy as long as you get in the right group and the right education. That [education] is something we’re big on at Life Time. We offer entry-level introduction to pickleball where you come out and learn how to play. We’re going to explain the rules, so you know exactly how to play, and then you’ve got private lessons. It’s fun.”
Another area where Life Time excels is in its small-group training classes. One reason these offerings are so popular is that by using the Life Time Training app, members can see exactly what they will be doing each day before arriving for their classes so there are no surprises. Among their offerings are GTX, a class that is a 50/50 blend between strength and cardio, and Alpha Advanced Strength and Lifting, an offering designed so its participants never hit a plateau through a mix of Olympic-style lifting and strength training. Life Time also earns high marks from members for its yoga studios.
 However, for anyone wondering why Life Time has been so successful for over three decades and has a legion of long-term customers, it comes down to one word. “It really comes down to community,” Bodnar said. “Some people will coin it as their third place. You have your home, your church, and then you have the third thing that you do.”
“We have people that come, they stay all day long, and they come every day. When somebody walks out the door, we don’t say ‘Goodbye.’ We don’t say, ‘Have a good day.’ We say, ‘See you tomorrow,’ and we mean it. A lot of times, it’s a question like, ‘See you tomorrow?’ We want to see them again.  They want to see us again. They want community, they want accountability. It feels good to be around like-minded people, and a lot of them will just say, ‘Life Time has changed my life.’ If you ask anybody what their job is at Life Time, it is to empower others to live healthier and happier lives.”
So, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or a desire to better yourself at any other time of the year, give either Cowboys Fit or Life Time in Frisco a shot. These two elite fitness-themed facilities do offer something for everyone.
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