Born in Bulgaria in 1959, fencer Hristo Etropolski soon traded his rattle for a saber, competing twice in the Olympic Games—including a fifth-place finish in 1980—and earning medals in two World Championships. After settling down in 2005, Hristo founded Midwest Fencing Academy, where, as head coach, he draws on almost 40 years of competition and teaching experience to sharpen students’ sparring skills. Of his past protégés, one received a gold medal in the Junior World Cup, and many have secured fencing scholarships at Ivy League universities, where their mighty swords reign undefeated against opponents' puny pens.
Midwest Fencing Academy specializes in the lightest of fencing's three weapons, the saber, whose required speed and quick thinking puts students' hearts and reflexes to the test, building discipline and good sportsmanship. The facility boasts five regulation strips, four of which are wired with electronic scoring, and includes a large viewing space for friends or parents to shout French translations of witty retorts from the sidelines.
Tri-Fitness's duo of certified trainers help clients, from athletes to those who have never exercised, build their personal fitness through both functional and sports-specific training methods. As the conditioning and speed coach for the Chicago Force women's football team, Tri-Fitness founder Ron Munvez specializes in helping athletes such as runners, golfers, and baseball players fine-tune their bodies for peak performance. He and fellow trainer Brian Lyons lead a vigorous boot-camp program and TRX Suspension classes whose exercise machines use the exerciser’s own body weight to build and tone muscle, accommodating clients of all ages and fitness levels. The recently expanded facility houses a collection of modern fitness equipment, including weighted kettlebells, Schwinn stationary bikes, and giant steel hamster wheels.
Long before the UFC turned mixed martial arts into a caged spectacle, Kensho Martial Arts founder Roger Luri was melding myriad fighting styles into a coherent method of self-defense. Thirty years of teaching martial arts have shown him that, in a self-defense situation, trained fighters will resort to whatever moves and faked tuberculosis symptoms come the easiest. Instead of inculcating a rigid structure for kicks and punches, he devised a technique that allows students to draw from multiple influences. These include disciplines such as karate, kickboxing, jujitsu, and Western boxing.
Luri built his self-defense technique from his broad experience scrapping in multiple styles. In the 1980s, the seventh-degree black belt developed an iron grip over judo and kickboxing while studying under Grand Master Fred Degerberg, a pioneer of mixed martial arts. Since then, Luri has developed mastery over Thai and French boxing, for which he received the Silver Glove from the French Federation of Boxe Francaise Savate.
There's a lot of solid muscle and experience behind Train With Ron, whose crew includes Ron Potocnik, a former Valparaiso University footballer and a frequent Masters Track and Field contender; Dale "DB" Barr, a triathlete with an Ironman 70.3 under his belt; and Matt Ulrich, who spent two years with the Indianapolis Colts. With the aid of licensed dietician Laura Bleiman, these trainers set calories on fire and awaken slumbering self-esteem, tailoring always-changing workout routines to match the fitness levels and personal goals of their clients. A 5,000-square-foot facility gives them ample room to work—the space, which features 40-yard turf runways, is dotted with enough exercise equipment to sink a small battleship. In addition to tempering the human body, Ron and company also temper the human spirit by organizing running challenges for charity.
It’s fitting that Citywide Superslow’s weight-lifting classes take place in a former furniture factory—where carpenters once shaped wood into sturdy tables and chairs, certified trainers now shape lax forms into chiseled bodies. Each workout uses specialized MED-X equipment, and emphasizes slow, frictionless movement and heavy weights to push muscles to their limit. Athletes take typically 10 seconds to lift the weight and 10 seconds to lower it, working muscles to the point of fatigue but keeping them from giving letters of resignation. The experienced staff is proof of the results that can result from the regimen, keep in strong physical shape in the minimal amount of time. Trainers remain on hand to offer recommendations on technique, and offer advice on diet plans that help facilitate recovery and digestive health.
Teaching hips to swivel to new circumferences, dance instructors impart their masterful moves unto students in the respected tradition Arthur Murray has upheld since 1912. Students dance with a partner, or the instructor, who provides a greater understanding of the dance style of their choosing with either method. Protégés may find their new moves applicable in a number of settings, such as when prepping for a wedding dance or blending into an airport crowd that breaks out in a cha-cha. Embodying the three-count time of a stately waltz brings partners in close; rumba moves and swing steps add vibrancy and playfulness to one’s repertoire. Arthur Murray Dance Centers provide a warm, aesthetically sound environment for engaging in private and group dance lessons superbly suited to slicing and dicing a rug until it is no longer recognizable.