The exposed-brick walls of Iron Cycles speak to the straightforwardness of its employees, who prefer to focus on riding, not attitude. This judgment-free approach leads to unbiased treatment for every cycle. The staffers treat well-worn heirlooms with the same degree of care and dignity as they do snazzy titanium builds or a custom-crafted commuter. Perhaps their respect for bike diversity stems in part from their disparate cycling backgrounds: founder Brandon is an off-road racer, Ben was a bike messenger, and Steve has more than 25 years of both pedaling and mechanic experience.
Regardless of the bike brand or model, each of the shop’s services adheres to the mission of safer, savvier trips. Repairs address basic adjustments as well as complete overhauls, furnishing customers with new saddles, kickstands, and even handmade tires imported from overseas. The staffers oversee fitting sessions that fine-tune parts to suit the bike's function and the owner's body type. They can also build custom cycles that correspond to clients' goals, whether they want a frame that can hit high speeds or wheels that can store several decks of playing cards at once.
Inspired by a love of fitness and a passion for travel and tourism kindled within him by his late father, Jeremy Lewno founded Bobby's Bike Hike to create an interactive Chicago biking experience. He named the company after his dad, Bob, an Arkansas bus-tour operator who taught him to focus on service quality over quantity. That advice has clearly paid off, as the business's guided tours have earned a number one ranking for activities to do in Chicago on TripAdvisor and the title of Best Organized Bike Ride from the Chicago Reader in 2010.
During the tours, which include rented bicycles, guides lead groups of about 20 riders past Chicago icons in Millennium Park and on the Museum Campus, or direct them to samples of pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes, and beer in and around Wrigleyville. The crew has designed a Tike Hike tour for kids 10 and younger, a historic Hyde Park tour that pedals past the home of President Barack Obama, and a mansion-studded lakefront tour, during which riders may glimpse Oprah waving or handing out complimentary helicopters at her main residence. Patrons can also rent Schwinn, GT, and Cannondale Comfort bikes, mountain, road, cruisers, and tandem bikes to explore the city on their own.
TourBound Golf Academy fosters score-shaving improvement for golfers of all abilities with the latest PGA Tour simulators and professional instructors. The immense screens of simulators line the walls, vividly bringing to life the verdant landscapes of 50 of the world's most famous courses. To allow for realistic play, the highly detailed simulator experience takes into account factors such as wind currents, ball spin, and excessively sweaty palms to inform the outcome of each swing. Offering a more hands-on kind of swing sprucing, the academy offers sessions with the TourBound robot, which can correct common swing imbalances, such as having too steep a backswing or failing to transfer body weight through the swing. The long arms of the robot physically guide hands through the proper motions, giving players a feel for the proper technique while making sarcastic remarks about human mortality.
For those looking for less structured practice, the academy also offers hitting bays that foster rote swing mechanics. Between time spent peering into the murky depths of their golf swing, guests can relax amid plush leather seats and spacious locker room.
USA Karate Federation Hall of Fame honoree and four-time Panamerican Karate champion John Fonseca teams up with three-time world karate champion Elisa Au Fonseca and a cadre of talented instructors to lead their charges through martial-arts and fitness classes that strengthen minds and bodies. Though the martial-arts program mainly focuses on shotokan and shito-ryu karate, the sensei also offers aikido, judo, Gracie jujitsu, muay thai kickboxing, and wing tsun classes. Bushy-tailed neophytes start at the beginning, learning the basics of their chosen form, whereas advanced students delve into such mind-focused arenas as chi energy training and personally apologizing to every punching bag they have ever hurt.
Instructors also lead fitness-centered sessions that build muscle and burn calories. Cardio-kick classes merge elements of martial-arts, boxing, and aerobics to form an ever-changing cardiovascular workout infused with heart-pumping kicks and punches. Boot-camps delve athletes even deeper into whole-body fitness by challenging them to nonstop military-style drills for a full 45 minutes, or approximately the time it takes to jump rope through an entire episode of Magnum, P.I..
Wading through indoor heated pools, the instructors at British Swim School teach independent swimming skills to learners aged 3 months and older, adhering to a curriculum devised by British national swimmer Rita Goldberg. The 30-minute one-on-one sessions and small-group lessons, containing six or fewer swimmers, elucidate essential techniques for water safety and the importance of speaking fluent manatee. Swimboree (ages 3 months–3 years with parents) and Young Minnows sessions (ages 1–3 years without parents) teach wee swimmers basic water-survival skills, such as the back float. Turtle One and Turtle Two classes focus on freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke maneuvers, honing more structured swimming skills in older kiddos. British Swim School's Shark courses enhance stamina and speed and teach even more demanding strokes, such as the butterfly and little-known mountain-goat flail. Certain British Swim School classes require parents to participate in the water or to supervise from the pool deck, and adults-only lessons allow grown-ups to refine their own abilities without the supervision of a toddler.
A nonprofit educational organization, The Peace School promotes tranquility of mind, body, and spirit through yoga, tae kwon do, and meditation courses that welcome students of all ages. Originally established in 1972 by Grand Master Myungsu Y.S. Kim, the school has been recognized by the United Nations, developed senior and nursing-home programs, and helped establish Peace Day, an annual Chicago celebration of peace and cultural institutions.
At the school, a coalition of experienced instructors—all of whom have trained for at least 10 years—leads students in three levels of yoga, traditional tae kwon do, and other exercises. Group practice, discussion, and lectures divulge the fundamentals of peace breathing meditation, while a hands-on self-defense for women class opens up discussion of attitude, confidence, and safety issues. Massage classes emphasize acupressure technique and deep breathing, while courses in infant massage can help babies sleep better.