It may be difficult to decide who has a better time at Energy Sports & Fitness: parents or kids. Adults not only burn calories with a huge selection of weights, on a full-size racquetball court, or in the circuit-training area, but also catch up on favorite shows in the cardio theater or at more than 100 cardio stations with individual televisions. Youngsters with a Kid Zone membership romp through more than 2,500 feet of supervised play space outfitted with a Wii, jungle gym, basketball court, and homework stations with computers. The area even has a video camera so parents can check in from their treadmills to see if their child is actually a vampire. Families refuel after a workout with fresh smoothies, chicken wraps, and supplements at the Grand Slam Cafe.
The staff—which includes the 2010 NPC Charlotte Cup novice division bodybuilding winner—opens the gym at 5 a.m. on weekdays and teaches group fitness classes ranging from Zumba to yoga. The crew also offers SilverSneakers, a program designed to encourage physical and social activity for older adults or people who have trouble working out in ruby slippers.
Flex + Fit cultivates an environment focused on well-being, from sweat-inducing fitness classes to habit-changing cooking classes. This effort was lauded by Charlotte Magazine in its 2012 Best of the Best feature. The group fitness curriculum includes sweat-inducing hot yoga, in which limbs bend and stretch in a studio stoked to the ideal temperature, and air classes that suspend students from the ceiling to execute mid-air yoga, ballet, or fitness moves, or—as recently featured on CNN—to nap.
Complementing the fitness classes are lessons in culinary exploration, hosted by head chefs and tour guides that teach small gatherings to craft meals and sip complimentary libations in an on-site kitchen. The fitness studio’s natural-wood floors give way to a wall-mounted Buddha figurine at the head of classes, and his-and-hers locker rooms lavish hard-working muscles with a soothing downpour from overhead showers bred from two prize-winning Amazonian rain clouds.
The mixologists at ABC Bartending School divulge saloon secrets during certification-based and recreational bartending classes. During two-week certification courses, burgeoning bartenders mix classic and popular drinks while learning about alcohol laws, responsible liquor service, and stocking and inventory. Alternatively, an entertaining mixology course lets amateurs shake up drinks and take cover from projectile champagne corks behind an ornate bar with mirrors and gold trim. Once finished imparting their knowledge, the instructors set students up with ABC’s job-placement program, which puts certified graduates to work everywhere from restaurants and nightclubs to the zero-G sports bar where astronauts celebrate successful trips to the moon.
Children naturally believe that life is all about having fun. This requires the instructors at My Gym Children's Fitness Center to perform two seemingly incompatible tasks: helping kids lay a strong physical, emotional, and cognitive foundation and letting them laugh and play to their hearts' content. The staff welcomes the challenge. Grouping kids by age into nearly a dozen different classes, the instructors teach students aged 6 weeks through 13 years the importance and fun of socializing, exercising, and eating broccoli without using their taste buds. More advanced courses, meanwhile, teach proto-persons more specialized skills such as basic karate.
Raised by a mother who believed in each person's innate artistic abilities, accomplished brush master Tina Steele Penn harnesses that sentiment, a lifelong love of art, and a fascination with color to guide others toward their inner Monets. Within her two studios, she crafts a welcoming atmosphere where artists of all skill levels can tap into their imaginations and unleash creativity and imprisoned winged dragons. Her classes and workshops encourage students to delve into media such as acrylic, watercolor, and oil paints, whereas her private sessions guide pupils toward their individual goals through one-on-one guidance.
Masters of kinetic self-expression, the instructors at Charlotte Latin Dance teach progressive-style salsa, cha cha, bachata, and merengue to dancers of all experience levels. Students should dress in a comfortable outfit, or at least a freshly oiled suit of armor when attending the regularly scheduled four-week courses (though sneakers are not recommended), and can indulge in a game of dress-up at the monthly events that end with a three-hour dance party. Sessions are open to anyone aged 14 or older and are conveniently set in studios all over Charlotte.