Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable members to work on their physical well-being with a cornucopia of fitness equipment. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength and cardio equipment, which features built-in TVs and other media diversions. For those who exercise during conventional hours, Snap's friendly, unintimidating atmosphere welcomes patrons of all ability levels, unlike schoolyard dodge-ball squads. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling. For a dose of custom advice, patrons can seek out a personal-training session with a certified coach, who helps them assess and address their fitness goals. Clients reap the benefit of individual attention as a personal trainer helps them tackle weight loss, prepare for an arm-wrestling competition, or unveil the mysteries of arcane cable-weight machines.
To Manny Sarmiento, American food isn't really American. The chef recognizes that it's the product of a number of international influences, and he draws attention to those influences in the fusion cuisine he creates at 500 Degrees. Sarmiento puts his stamp on dishes such as the "1946 Blend" burger and the Chicken a la Manny, the latter of which complements an organic, oven-roasted chicken with cherry peppers, lemon, and roasted potatoes.
The New York Times recently applauded the chef for his willingness to mix a variety of international cuisines, but no review of 500 Degrees is complete without a note on the interior. The elegant dining area alone is worth the price of admission, with a tin ceiling, exposed brick walls, and a glass terrace that overlooks the river.
One of the East Coast's best-known Members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's serves more than six million Members in more than 200 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, BJ's helps provide more selections to savvy shoppers looking to knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, Members can stock up on economy-sized groceries?including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials?grab name-brand electronics, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of BJ's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $2.2 million to charitable organizations.
Althea "Tiah" Barnes has spent years teaching liturgical dance to both kids and adults. She has switched gears at her self-named Zumba studio, where exercisers of all fitness levels partake in the energetic, dance-inspired workout. It's clear that Barnes isn't one to sit still, which may explain why she also created her own classes called Music & Movement 4 Kids, a program inspired by Zumba but tailored to preschoolers.
Having already earned back-to-back spots on Connecticut Magazine's Best of Connecticut in 2009 and 2010, Liquid Lunch keeps bellies full and spoons out of the unemployment line with a slurp-worthy twist on midday meals. Culinary Institute of America graduate and owner Fred Bialek and his wife, Michele, were inspired to open the first Liquid Lunch in 2004, when they'd grown tired of lunchtime standards such as pizza, burgers, and lightly salted printouts of old PowerPoint presentations.
Today, at Liquid Lunch's still-growing roster of locations, a rotating lineup of gourmet soups cascades across the menu alongside six staple soups, including vegetarian lentil and split pea with ham. For an extra crunch, diners can plunge fork-first into salads, or explore healthy Sammiches, which escort taste buds around the globe with names influenced by their ingredients and spear-pickles engraved with necessary passport information.