When Aikido instructor Elliot Freeman discovered martial arts as a teenager, his interest knew no bounds. He searched for and attempted to master as many forms as he could find, including Kendo, Tae Kwando, and sword. When he heard rumors that the mysterious style known as Aikido could grant practitioners the ability to throw people across the room without touching them or secretly attaching their pant legs to a trebuchet, he knew he found what would be the bedrock to his entire career. He eventually studied under acclaimed Aikido masters, earned top ratings in the National Karate Assocation and American Karate Association, and formed various programs and dojos. In 1993 Freeman journeyed to St. Louis to study with action-film star Sensei Steven Seagal at his Aikido summer camp. Seagal became so impressed with Freeman that he asked him to open a new school in St. Louis. Freeman readily agreed, founding Three Rivers Aikido where he still acts as chief instructor alongside many other Master Instructors. Freeman, along with 12 other Aikido instructors, welcomes students of all ages to come and train within the 3,500-square-foot dojo.
In addition to the martial-arts training offered at the dojo, Yoga instructor Alyona Komolova, a former Russian ballerina, offers classes to help students increase flexibility. Tai Chi Instructor Justin Meehan, a martial-arts veteran of 38 years, instructs attendees in tai chi, a relaxing flow of prescribed motions that balance body and mind.
Master Ken O'Neill, who has been practicing martial arts since 1969, and has experience with Aikido, Mauy Thai, Filipino Kali-Escrima, jujustu, Russian Systema, and more.
Towering alongside Clayton Road, the Tropicana Lanes sign has a vintage, weather-beaten look acquired after more than 50 years of welcoming visitors. Three generations of Richmond Heights bowlers have ventured into the facility during this time, scattering pins across the same 52 lanes that have hosted the nationally televised Professional Bowlers Tour. Owner and PBA Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bluth oversees the day-to-day operations of the alley?which, despite its retro disposition, sports modern extras such as automatic scoring and singing shoelaces. Between frames, bowlers can kick back inside the cocktail lounge, play in the game room, or munch on wings, nachos, and hot dogs from the snack bar.
GolfTEC has two convenient locations in Charlotte, both staffed by experienced golfing professionals and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the Three Laws of golfing robotics. Motion sensors and high-speed cameras monitor your swing and break down your form on a high-definition video display. GolfTEC’s PGA specialists point out your flaws, strengths, and coach you on how to permanently improve your game, from tee to green. Sensors chirp with approval when you’ve executed a perfect stroke or cracked an especially witty golfing joke.
Happy shouts from climbers to their belay partners. The cool scent of pool water. Center of Clayton bustles with activities of all sorts, all fueled by the equipment and athletic facilities filling the 149,000-square-foot complex. At the Center's aquatic center, swimmers freestyle along the 25-yard lanes of the competition pool, plunge down a curvy water slide at the leisure pool, or let back-massaging jets knead muscles in the hot tub. A 31-foot climbing wall awaits grappling hands and probing feet to ascend the colorful holds, and the safety offered by top-rope style harnesses encourages climbers to try out particularly challenging routes or overly familiar nicknames for boulders.
Before sweating through fitness classes or pickup basketball games, parents can drop youngsters ages 6–13 off at the youth activity center. There, kids stay active with Nintendo Wii fitness games and equipment, and supervisors arbitrate disputes about whose father can actually beat up Batman. To further streamline the process of working out, locker rooms, towel service, and a food court with a Subway and a café allow patrons to stop in while running errands or on lunch.
Studio Altius’s owner, photographer David J. Cerven, drew on his background in theater to create a new approach to portraiture. Like directors and actors, or producers and theater critics who owe them a favor, Cerven’s photographers and clients work collaboratively to create defining moments. Along with fellow photographer Shawna Ventimiglia's background in fashion design, Cerven creates personal, compelling images of children and families, high-school seniors, brides, and couples, as well as professional headshots and sexy boudoir images. Clients can pose in either his 3,000-square-foot studio or outside the studio in a picturesque outdoor setting. In addition to working with clients, Cerven teaches his methods to other photographers in portraiture workshops and classes, and maintains an on-site art gallery.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.