Born in India—the same land where yoga originated centuries ago—Poonam Gupta has felt a profound attachment to the ancient discipline since childhood, when her father led her through the first steps of what would become a lifelong journey. Those early sessions with her father led Poonam to spend countless hours meditating, meeting with teachers, and perusing spiritual texts. In the course of her studies, she discovered that the physical practice of yoga was only part of the equation; the process of studying and furthering her knowledge of the art proved equally self-empowering.
Poonam thought back to this breakthrough when it came time to found her own studio, naming it Yoga Gyan Jyoti, which translates to “light of yogic knowledge.” Today, her daily yoga classes help practitioners to improve their flexibility, build their strength, and overcome weight issues. The center complements its yoga classes with training in ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine that focuses on correcting imbalances that result from years of poor nutrition or one-handed pushups.
At Ideal Weight Loss, helpful technicians work with clients to develop lasting weight-loss plans using noninvasive methods—meaning no surgeries, medications, or shots. At the root of the clinic’s mission is the Ideal Weight Loss method, which begins with complimentary consultations and is nurtured via a partnership between staffers and patients. Working as a team, they attempt to set realistic goals, which can be achieved in part thanks to the provided gourmet protein diets. In addition to the four-phase long-term plan, the clinic also offers body-sculpting services such as wraps and LipoLaser.
The aestheticians at Skin Chic Spa focus all their treatments on pampering the body’s biggest organ. Their four basic facials complement the service menu’s advanced facials, which rely on technology such as LED light, ultrasound waves, and microcurrents to minimize signs of aging and hide hyperpigmentation. Dr. Randa Sawan stops by to administer injections and conduct laser hair removal, and other staffers see to airbrush tanning, slimming wraps, and sea-salt exfoliating scrubs.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company’s product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
This naturalistic approach is fully realized in Jamba Juice's selection of smoothies. Made with 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, the frosty delights range from all-fruit smoothies such as peach perfection and strawberry whirl to more indulgent creamy treats, including peanut butter moo'd, an enticing blend of peanut butter, bananas, nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and milk chocolate.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and artesian flatbreads that pack only about 320–420 calories each.
In February 1995, residents of Aurora, IL were coping with two separate tragedies. Teens Moshe Rogers and Armando Mendez, both innocent bystanders, had been shot to death in crimes that occurred three months apart. In an effort to end the violence and honor the victims, the community banded together to form Project Unity—serving as a bridge between local schools, residents, and churches. The organization held the first Back to School Fair, which aimed to ready students from low-income families for the upcoming school year with free supplies, medical exams, and haircuts.
Communities In Schools of Aurora, IL (CIS) has since taken over responsibility for the school fair, one of its many projects to ensure equal footing for all students. Operating inside the former Fox Valley Park District building, the organization partners with more than 65 local social service and nonprofit agencies to help lower student drop-out rates. This it does by empowering students to succeed, whether through tutoring sessions, literacy training, or counseling services.