Though many students come to Mathnasium having fallen behind their classmates, a mathematically advanced child sparked the learning program’s creation. As founder Larry Martinek’s young son, Nic, developed an appetite for higher-level math concepts, Larry found himself developing an entirely new teaching language to explain them in an age-appropriate way. The kind of instincts he sought to build up couldn’t be nurtured by drills and rote memorization. Instead, they required a deeper understanding of the principles at the root of mathematical operations, delivered in a way that grade-school kids could apply throughout their academic careers.
In just a decade’s time, Larry and his team have established Mathnasium centers in most U.S. states and more than a dozen in other countries. At each, highly trained tutors develop custom learning plans for students in grades K–12 based on The Mathnasium Method. The system combines an education strategy of conceptual, tactile, and visual techniques with a curriculum structure that ensures kids can count, think proportionally, and break complex problems into smaller components to solve simply. Tutors allow some time during each session to help students with the concepts in their math homework, and the centers regularly check report cards and standardized tests as further measures of progress.
Radiating at a balmy 104 degrees with 35% humidity, Heat Yoga Studio is an ideal place to sweat out toxins or thaw TV dinners. The studio plays host to one-hour classes that begin with seated positions and flow into standing poses, backbends, and other asana that challenge students to find a balance between effort and ease. As instructors coach students through sequences, they emphasize pranayama, or breathing, in order to optimize circulation and focus. The classes are suitable for students of all levels.
While other athletic clubs hibernate, Majestic Oaks welcomes Old Man Winter's frigid embrace with snow-savvy cheer. Played using golf clubs and a fuzzy tennis ball, snow golf provides nine holes of family-spanning fun and takes less than an hour to complete. Traversing the course, most of whose holes are under 100 yards, provides a reason to enjoy a brisk winter afternoon with friends while getting some light exercise. Hot chocolate and coffee (a value of $1.50 each) can keep your foursome of snow-golfers warm or can be used to punish snowmen who overindulge in mulligans.
Jam Hops Gymnastics, Dance and Cheer was formed when The Gymnastics Factory of Ham Lake joined forces with Jam Hops of Mound View in 1997. At first, they focused only on recreational and competitive gymnastics. As the talent, energy, and location expanded, however, so too did the program—they began to include dance. The inertia then became harder to contain, leading to Jam Hops' cheer program, the "leap-n-learn" academic preschool program, and even birthday parties and day camps that have further integrated Jam Hops into the community. In 2013 alone, Jam Hops scored the "Reader's Choice Award" from the Anoka County Shopper and the "Family Choice Award" from Macaroni Kid
Despite expansions in locations and classes, Jam Hops maintains its original mission: to turn children into champions of life. Nurturing young talent, the enthusiastic staff—many of whom are CPR and First Aid Certified—boost the confidence of students in recreational and competitive gymnastics programs. They work with boys and girls ranging from preschool age to 12th grade, and have even shepherded teams to the Junior Olympics nationals. Instructors in the dance programs, meanwhile, teach adults, teens, and tykes as young as two the ins-and-outs of jazz, tap, hip-hop, and ballet styles. It's not all about gymnastics or dance, though—the staffers in charge of academic preschool classes instill physical fitness and learning excellence in kids ages 3–5.
Steel Toe Brewery's founder was a home brewer, fermenting beer in his bedroom overnight, until the gurgling sounds of the carboy began to disturb his wife's sleep. Origin stories like these are just one of the attractions of Taproom Tours' brewery tours, which also explore the Belgian yeast of Boom Island Brewing, celebrate session ales at 612 Brew, and enable sud savoring in the wood-paneled taproom at Indeed Brewing Company. Visitors taste sample brews at each location, and, helped along by a knowledgeable guide, explore the breweries' inner workings until they have learned every yeast strain's first name and favorite sports team.
A tall painted portrait, illuminated from above, shows a woman standing barefoot holding a lamb. Follow her glance downwards and sideways, and you'll sight row upon brightly colored row of carefully stacked skeins of yarn from brands such as Blue Sky and Spud & Chloë. Classes teach tender-footed knitters to wield these materials with care, and more advanced offerings cover refined and specialized stitching skills. The shop also carries its own line of all-natural soaps, household cleaners, and moisturizers designed to soften hands toughened by efforts to wrestle needles away from uncooperative porcupines.