After setting its wheels to the pavement in the early 1930s, South Side Cyclery today operates three stores in the St. Louis area that cater to cycling enthusiasts, with two-wheeled steeds, tools, and accessories by brands such as Giant, Specialized, and Schwinn. The ride-wise staff at each location guides riders to new mountain, road, or children’s bikes suited to any size, skill level, or fear of unicyclists. Visitors peruse more than 800 bikes in stock, enjoying free on-site assembly before wheeling their new toy off the lot. New rides include complimentary adjustments for one year, whereas all services—including tune-ups, flat-tire fixes, and chest bumps on the way out the door—also carry a 90-day warranty.
The team at JitterSwing Dance Clubs constantly assures their clients that “JitterSwing is our name ... it is not a Dance.” Thanks to film and music videos, swing dance conjures images of acrobatics and leaping bodies, but JitterSwing’s instructors are popular for their approachable St. Louis Imperial style, which is slower-paced and accessible to students of any age. They lead couples and singles through group and private sessions that cover many other types of swing dance as well as country two-step, the cha-cha, and the river waltz. Partners preparing for a wedding dance can take advantage of private lessons, and youths aged 10–16 are invited to the juniors program. In addition to the multiple locations where instructors conduct their sessions, JitterSwing staff members also come out to private events to instruct guests of all ages.
With Y-kiki Divers' Discover Scuba Diving class, aspiring aqua explorers can get a taste of navigating the sea's depths under the tutelage of one of Y-kiki Divers' trained staff members. After mastering basic scuba skills and concepts, each diver experiments with the weightlessness of underwater existence. Diving in the safe, supervised, chlorinated cradle of a swimming pool almost entirely prevents peanut butter and jellyfish incidents. Students must sign a liability release and fill out a medical questionnaire available on the Y-kiki Divers' website. Skippers as young as 10 can participate in this experience, but all those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. The Groupon includes all equipment except bathing suit and towel. View the schedule to see when and where classes will be held. Though not included in this Groupon, those sold on the powers of the in-ground seas can progress to open-water diving courses with Y-kiki Divers.
When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
The sounds of flailing feet and fists correctly striking padded opponents pervade Absolute Martial Arts’ 3,600-square-foot facility, where students learn how to lose weight, tone up, and defend themselves simultaneously. Atop a large mat that the staff disinfects daily, professional instructors lead structured muay-thai kickboxing classes that slowly introduce exercisers to the fundamentals of the 1,000-year-old sport, which is similar to kickboxing and dissimilar to napping. Many of the trainers, including Thai-native Master Toddy, boast years of extensive training and practice, pushing students beyond their perceived limits but always keeping their safety in mind. It also offers Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed-martial-arts classes to allow students a chance to explore new forms or augment their muay-thai practice.