Williamsville, NY. The early 20th century. A man guides his family’s horse-drawn carriage through the flurries of snow sweeping across their circular driveway before coming to a halt in front of a striking two-story home. The ride was long and chilly, but inside, homey warmth awaits. Today, teleportation discs may have replaced the horse and buggy, but travelers still traverse the same driveway in search of a warm welcome. Now the home of Parings Wine Bar, the turn-of-the-century house reflects the goal that owner Shelia Paolini shared with the Amherst Bee’s Jessica Finch: “We want it to feel like you are coming into a living room, that you are at home, not at a bar.”
As soon as guests push open the bright-red front door, they enter a space that combines the comfort of a lived-in family room with the gourmet flavors found at traditional wine bars. Lit by flat-screen TVs and a cozy fireplace, guests peruse Chef Scott Martin’s ever-changing menu, which often features mediterranean nachos, lobster mac 'n' cheese, and horseradish beef tenderloin. Resident sommelier Alphonso DiMono’s wine list, which culls vintages from global wineries from Australia to France to California, perfectly complements the chef's creations. The bar’s mixologists also shake up more than 20 martinis infused with treats such has espresso vodka, Godiva white-chocolate liqueur, and pumpkin puree. As they sip and eat, guests can also join in special event nights that include art shows, live music, and happy hours that feature 20 types of wine for just $20 per bottle.
When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first of their gyms in 1980, they chartered their gym around three values: service, cleanliness, and having owners operate their own facilities. True to the founders' original vision, each location's employees strive to keep their cardio and resistance equipment spic and span as they care for facilities. In addition to personal training, instructors lead a schedule of more than 400 group fitness classes?including cycling, Kardio Kick, and Zumba?offered each week across their eight locations. At the clubs, trainers also help guests master CrossFit functional equipment and use TRX suspension training systems to help them connect with their vine-savvy pet orangutans.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Fusion is an amazing force. It sets stars ablaze, redefines cuisine, and has even produced a hybrid of a gym and spa at Platinum Fitness. There, certified personal trainers construct individualized workout regimens or lead small group classes, pumping up muscles with Zumba, Pilates, or yoga. Therapists work alongside them, relaxing bodies with massage treatments or chiropractic manipulations, which, like an argument in Bantu, commonly produce clicking noises. After a workout or knead, members can relax in an infrared sauna or educate themselves about healthy eating with a nutritional consultation.
With multiple degrees in fitness and nutrition, Victor Dean Training’s eponymous owner has curated his gym and climbing center to focus on clients’ overall health. Victor hand-selects all the gym’s brand-name equipment for its efficacy and usefulness in a well-rounded fitness regime, ensuring clients aren’t toiling away on weight equipment and cardio machines that fail to offer results. The staff pairs standard gym memberships with options such as personalized sessions and nutritional counseling that build up health like cyborg organ implantation.
Fitness 19's founders launched their first family-oriented gyms in 2003, hoping to splash the exercising experience with local flavor and familiarity. Life Fitness cardio machines—including treadmills and ellipticals—unite with strength-training machines and free weights to help members to build leaner physiques as certified personal trainers patrol the deep-red-carpeted workout area. The expert staff can also guide clients through yoga, martial arts, and weight loss–centric personal-training sessions. Every location also hosts a kids' room, where youngsters can craft macaroni kettlebells under the supervision of a full-time staff member.