Basic Training Academy programs?captained by personal trainers who have either earned or are completing their NFPT certification?enlist the power of positive reinforcement to keep patrons sprinting toward their fitness goals. The 60- to 90-minute sessions, which trade in the shrill screams and sarcastic parrot sidekicks of a drill sergeant for supportive mantras, focus on flexibility, strength, and conditioning. Three levels of boot-camp classes put physiques through challenging calisthenics, torching fat while attendees hustle through picturesque landscapes and vault over elk in parks and forest preserves.
People who want to augment their training experience can enlist in Basic Training Academy's AZPAC (A-Z Physical Assessment Consultation) program. Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients to assess lifestyle patterns before creating personalized long-term fitness strategies. To cement the bonds of workout camaraderie and give students a chance to bask, the academy also holds an annual retreat to Devil's Lake State Park, where participants escape the noise of the city and learn that Devil's Lake is just like a normal lake, only with more chocolate in it.
The neon lights and bright colors at Grande Jake’s Authentic Mexican Grill’s three Chicago-area hubs hint at the menu’s dedication to spicy eats. Chefs scoop grilled steak, chorizo, and chicken into burritos, then douse them in melted chihuahua cheese and salsa ranchera. Homemade tamales burst with pork or chicken, and the pollo asada al carbon tops a 12-ounce char-grilled chicken breast with mole or green sauce. Refried beans, spanish rice, and chips serve as supporting actors to entrees, and the creamy Mexican-style custard in flan finishes dinners more sweetly than a dinner mint delivered by a troupe of newborn kittens.
Snap Fitness, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneakers to treadmills or lift their first weights, staff meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting personalized fitness plans based on clients' strength, cardio condition, and bionic-limb manufacturers. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthful eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists. Staff also forestall exercise-routine boredom by working individually with clients on a routine basis.
The horseback lesson takes place at Sunflower Farms, which boasts 170 acres of pristine wooded lakefront farmland, ideal for galloping horses and running a mildly successful Internet business. Start the two-hour session with an hour-long ground lesson that helps riders get to know their horses, covers the basics of riding equipment, and teaches horse-grooming methods. Once riders feel comfortable enough around a horse to not be overwhelmed with the desire to challenge it to a staring contest, they'll saddle up and ride for a full hour, outfitted with a certified helmet from Saddlers Row. Sunflower Farms instructors will work with riders of any skill level, from beginner to competition level.
Jimano's Pizzeria's deft dough-tossers craft homemade crusts, succulent sauces, and pies layered with fresh ingredients for an oven-fresh menu of Chicago-style pizzas. Top a thin-crust cheese pizza ($15.80 for a 16") or piñata-pack a pan-baked deep-dish cheese pizza ($17.95 for a 16") with a panoply of ingredients, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, or pineapple ($2.10 per ingredient for a 16" pizza), ensuring that modest pizzas don't have to arrive at the table undressed. Cooks also create stacked delights such as the italian beef ($5.85) or the crispy buffalo chicken sandwich ($5.99); baby back ribs ($16.99 for a full slab, $14.99 for a half slab) offer carnivorous sustenance coated in a homemade St. Louis–style barbecue sauce. The pizzeria's famed bread sticks ($3.99) satisfy carb cravings alongside a slew of pasta dishes, which arrive with sides of saucy banter and cheesy dialogue.
When not busy tending future landscape champs culled from their lush greenhouse plants, Floral Acres' florists furnish stunning floral arrangements. Make a lasting ocular impression with the Delightfully Daisy bouquet, as lavender competes with daisy spray chrysanthemums for face time from the see-through confines of a clear, glass bubble bowl ($29.99+). A vase of white and yellow daisies ushers in upcoming solstices bedecked with a cheery yellow ribbon ($29.99). Floral Acres supplies the flowered greenery for myriad occasions, commemorating milestones ranging from a sister’s new baby to a brother’s new Burger Time high score with specially designed displays.