Stephanie King-Myers and Nancy Bigley founded Bottle & Bottega as a fun, artistic space where guests could, as King-Myers phrases it on their website, “feel like they’re having a party in their living room.” Established in 2009, the guided painting emporium has already expanded to six main locations in two states.
La Grange owners and dedicated community members Paul and Meg Lefaivre were ecstatic to bring Bottle & Bottega to their neighborhood. The Lefaivres, along with a slate of local artists, encourage participants of any artistic level to unleash their creativity onto the canvas, creating their own versions of famous paintings that they can hang in their living rooms or over their bathroom mirrors in an attempt to be famous themselves.
Focus Yoga's seasoned instructors lead students of all skill levels through a variety of classes. The Yoga Basics class equips students with three building blocks—breathing techniques, concentration exercises, and fundamental poses—helping them develop a solid, balanced practice. During Open Yoga, beginner and intermediate yogis build muscles and flexibility through the slow, expansive movements of Vinyasa yoga. Dynamic Yoga classes pick up the pace, helping athletes bolster their stamina with deep breaths and impromptu thumb-wrestling matches. Focus Yoga also offers specialized classes for moms-to-be, and for teens who want to be trees when they grow up. In addition to its regular schedule of classes, Focus Yoga offers teacher training and hosts a variety of special events.
The purveyors of Oasis wanted to create a space where women could work out together in a pressure-free and rewarding environment. By outfitting the health club with rowers, step mills, and ellipticals, as well as a daycare, spacious locker rooms, and an infrared sauna, they brought that space to fruition. They also stocked it with a team of fitness experts, many with degrees and certifications in the field. That crew fosters a positive attitude while leading classes such as Pilates and Zumba, or personal-training sessions that can prep members for long-distance runs away from donuts. Events such as boot camps and self-defense courses are designed specifically with women in mind, while their nutrition programs round out plans for total fitness.
The Chicago White Sox have some truly dedicated fans. In 1994, the team decided to reach out to the youngsters who worshipped their footwear. They sought to provide kids with the same conditioning and training they honed their skills with, so they started a sports-training summer camp. In a mere seven years, demand for the trainers' services necessitated that the program conduct year-round sessions in all types of sports, and the Bulls/Sox Academy was born.
Taught by the trainers who spend their life making sure that the Sox and Bulls are ready to hit the field or court, Bulls/Sox Academy's lessons bring professional techniques to aspiring athletes. Baseball programs teach functional speed movements for high-speed base stealing and help kids build the upper-body strength to knock balls out of the park and through the windshield of their least favorite neighbor's minivan. The basketball course divvies up training between shooting, skills, and defensive play. The fast-pitch softball teachers—both former professional players and longtime coaches—arm students to beat back high-velocity pitches without hurting the ball's feelings.
Circle of Stones imports fine beading materials from around the world, using baubles culled from lands such as Africa, China, and Thailand to lead 10 jewelry-making classes. Pupils can choose from a range of beads, including gemstones, crystals, recycled glass, and semiprecious rock candy, to begin their inculcation into the jewelry-making trade. During the beginning beading class, instructors reveal the proper techniques for finishing bracelets and necklaces, and students wrap and fasten earrings in wire to prevent beads’ untimely escape down open sewers. The Star of India class, also for beginners, converges seed beads into star-like shapes, and the braided-crystal-bracelet class interweaves seed beads with sparkling Swarovski gems. Tutorials on peyote and wire-wrapped bracelets teach versatile pattern-making skills to forge a delicate necklace design. Prospective students can peruse jewelry samples made during previous workshops online. To prevent bead cross-contamination, Circle of Stones requests that students purchase all of their class supplies in-house.
Flying High Sports & Rec Center started in a small, converted office space. After over 20 years of business, the family-friendly center now boasts more than 1,000 students and has grown into two facilities that house a wide variety of programs. Inside, the qualified instructors lead gymnastics, martial arts, and dancing for all ages, mentoring tykes as young as 18 months old. In the cheer program, youngsters learn choreography and tumbling moves, and in gymnastics courses, kids learn to execute eye-dazzling flips and to navigate balance beams and the uneven bars, depending on their skill level.
The staff also hosts open-gym sessions, in which two foam pits, a rock well, four trampolines, and an inflatable obstacle course await those looking to burn off some energy or to network with potential lemonade-stand partners.
Red Lobster, Wicker Park’s Mirai Sushi, and Lincoln Park punk bar Delilah’s are three seemingly disparate venues. However, they have something in common—all three have hired graduates of American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois to mix their drinks and man their bars. The schools have been landing graduates at notable Chicago establishments for more than 60 years, but their connection with alums doesn’t end with their first gig. Graduates receive lifetime, personalized job-placement assistance and can call the school’s career hotline 24 hours a day to find out about job openings or trade meatloaf recipes.
The schools' focus on employment also shows in their bartending classes, which are modeled after on-the-job training and led by teachers with an average of more than 20 years of industry experience. Taught at bars complete with realistic faux liquor, the sessions cover topics from mixology to presentation and etiquette.