Owner and senior wine instructor Dani Cross created VinBoutique with a mission to introduce palates to the best French wines. A certified level-III sommelier, Cross personally travels to France to hand-pick vintages from small production companies and develop relationships with local vintners, ensuring her customers enjoy a collection of reds, whites, and bubbly that is exceptional not just in craftsmanship and taste, but also in value. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
A strong belief that wine should be enjoyed and shared with others inspires VinBoutique's tasting classes, where Cross and other wine experts share insights into different varietals, food pairings, and wine-making techniques. Using an approach designed to be both fun and unintimidating, Cross also includes a question-and-answer section, as well as easy-to-follow tasting notes, making her classes accessible to everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. As Dani continued to try new wines and savor her favorite French vintages, she became dismayed. Often, the wines she bought had been stored improperly or for too long, destroying the bouquets and noses that she loved. "Born of frustration, I decided to start my own [wine boutique]." And thus she curated a selection of French wines for VinBoutique. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
In addition to bottles of red, white, and bubbly, Dani and a team of instructors offer wine classes suitable for everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. Each class comes with notes and take-home materials, and is taught by a teacher who can both go into great technical detail or give thorough overviews so that student's don’t "get cross-eyed."
Nobody should have to suffer through a workout, say the fitness pros who helm Studio Thrive. So, to make exercise as enjoyable as possible, they design group classes that are fun, social, and suitable for all skill levels. Most instructors bring an extensive dance background to the classroom, filling classes such as Zumba and TRX. Personal-training sessions often center on functional-training tools such as TRX suspension straps and kettlebells, both of which foster flexibility and core strength. In addition to designing highly customized workouts, certified personal trainers perform body-composition analyses and fitness assessments to track their clients' progress.
When they're not leading classes or personal-training sessions, Studio Thrive's staffers host private Zumba parties in the spacious studio, lined with oversize mirrors, a polished wooden floor, and a cobalt-blue ceiling. Upon request, they can also bring Zumba sessions to offices, apartment buildings, or painfully quiet libraries.
When Tabetha Landt Hastings opened the box of painting supplies, she could barely hold back the tears. Her sister had been an artist and avid painter, and Tabetha was trying to cope with her passing when she picked up the brushes she inherited and put paint to canvas for the first time. The sensation was almost indescribable to her: she instantly felt an intimate sense of familiarity with the art form despite never having attempted it before. She knew then that something more was going on within her—a new connection was forever made—and she dove into painting with her sister in mind.
Years have passed since that first stroke, but Tabetha maintains the same fervor that marked her beginnings in painting as she sells her own art and leads classes. Her three-hour workshops invite students to see where their imaginations can take them while interpreting a chosen work in a group setting. She also hosts a paint club, which gathers artists of all skill levels to paint together.
The owners of Qi pool their experience to design innovative, unique exercise classes. Leading a staff of personal trainers and experienced instructors, the club maintains meditative training studios where yoga and cycling fuse in courses such as QiCycle-Yoga, and Qi Ryders, which uses RealRyder bikes.
The resulting roster of classes have earned Qi a second- and third-place spot on 5280's 2011 readers’ choice awards for Health Club/Gym and Yoga respectively. Such classes include Qi Yoga, a unique focus on core energy and muscular strength, and QiCycle-KORE, a cycling program blended with a bootcamp workout. The commitment to healthy living extends beyond the gym, with community programs, such as the free running club, a group that meets regularly to jog through City Park, Congress Park, and local Thanksgiving dinners.
Denver Patio Ride's party bus moves through the River North arts district and downtown by way of pedaling—any willing pub-crawlers can power the party forward as the sober driver steers and brakes. After jump-starting at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs on Larimer and Broadway, the bus cruises at a low-key 5 miles per hour, stopping at a smorgasbord of bars, many of which pour $5 specials of one shot and one beer. Guides infuse jaunts with historical tidbits, trivia, and prizes, while the solar-powered sound system’s iPod hookup allows pedalers to blast their personal collection of upbeat audio books. No weather other than rain or snow prevents tours, and the bus’s capacious storage space accommodates any party accessory except beer, which is not allowed on the bus. Revelers can rent out the whole bus for large parties, or buy seats on a weekly schedule of public pub-crawls.
Beginning in Columbus and now painting the town red in various cities throughout the county, Colors & Bottles scratches the creative itch of the public with its themed art classes that leave no blank canvas unvarnished. The mobile painting service, which The Ellen DeGeneres Show tagged as a "hip, new, and fresh" activity, stages its events at local bars, wineries, restaurants, and art galleries, helping boost neighborhood economies while creating a hard-to-follow trail for begrudging pottery wheels. During three-hour classes, an artist plucked from the local art community leads students through the creation of a themed painting, such as a city skyline or something more abstract. For an extra splash of inspiration, some venues allow students to bring their own drinks, while others have refreshments available to purchase.