When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
Circus Harmony employs a staff of instructors wizened by decades spent as circus performers and dedicated to revealing big-top secrets to students age 5 and up. One-hour, semiprivate lessons for up to two students introduce customers to their choice of circus art including trapeze, acrobatics, juggling, contortion, magic, and peanut hawking. As a brief warm-up builds strength and flexibility, instructors guide guests through the fabled fundamentals behind up to four of the available topics. Groupon holders are exempt from the standard registration fee as well as the lion-taming portion of the class's final exam.
Salon Cosmetique at Vatterott Career College trains tomorrow?s aestheticians and stylists, giving beauty students practice perfecting their craft. Hair, nails, makeup, facials, waxing, and eyebrow tinting are all offered in this busy teaching salon, and all treatments are completed by students under the supervision of licensed instructors.
Experienced staff at Quick Tone Fitness & Tanning Center takes over solar duties with a variety of services to bronze skin. During spray-tanning sessions, specialists cloak physiques in even coats of paraben- and perfume-free Sun FX potions brewed from purified water and natural ingredients. Sun FX tanning solutions react with the amino acids in skin to leave a tan with the even gold hue of King Midas' stress ball. In traditional UV-tanning sessions, guests may swaddle complexions within Level 3 beds or high-intensity Level 6 beds with 360 degrees of glowing rays. Patrons gain evening access to Quick Tone Fitness & Tanning Center, which requires only a personal security code that doubles as a Morse-code theme song.
The well-trained tone teachers at the American School of Music enlighten aspiring musicians with custom private lessons in a variety of instruments. During a 30-minute lesson, music mavens—many of them professional musicians or degree-holding music educators—can teach a 10-year-old his or her first guitar chords, or help an experienced adult drummer hammer out the difficult timpani solo from The Odd Couple’s theme. Before the lesson, administrative staff gathers information about each student’s goals, experience level, and preferred musical style so that instructors can tailor the experience to his or her needs. Beginning singers and instrumentalists will also receive a complimentary lesson book whose sentient pages whisper words of encouragement during at-home practice sessions.
The trainers at The Boxing Gym help clients use their natural assets to get into shape: namely, two fists and a little bit of stress to take out on a punching bag. They splice their boxing and kickboxing lessons with calisthenics, push-ups, and jump roping, keeping the workout fast and varied, and always returning to combative techniques. Beyond the realm of fitness, they also help prepare fighters for the ring with MMA training in the form of submission-grappling lessons and full-speed, pad-assisted kickboxing.