In the decade following World War II, the only grand opera to be enjoyed in West Michigan was when a touring company passed through or a local Viking was carried away by valkyries. That's why, in the mid-1950s, a group of opera enthusiasts started the St. Cecilia Music Society, focused on modest productions with high-culture aspirations. Meanwhile, a group known as Opera Association Committee began laying the foundations of something larger by seeking partnerships with Grand Rapids Civic Theater and the Grand Rapids Symphony. By 1966, these organizations joined their formidable forces, and Opera Grand Rapids was born. Today, under the direction of Artistic Director Robert Lyall, who's held that position since 1989, the opera specializes in full-scale productions of classic masterpieces such as Madame Butterfly and newer works such as A Streetcar Named Desire.
Coaches of Renewal Body Bootcamp coaxes hard work, discipline, and buckets of sweat from fitness-seekers during her intense, full-body workouts. One of her specialties is TRX resistance training, which involves suspending students by their arms, legs, and torsos from straps and harnesses dangling from the ceiling. Exercises require participants to fight gravity and their own body weight to build muscle. Coaches sometimes combines TRX with Pilates core-strengthening work or a rigorous plyometric regimen, mixing up workout routines daily to maximize effectiveness. In addition to physical training, she supplies students with nutritional counseling that measures appropriate caloric intake by the day, creating balanced diets that supply ample energy without extra carbs, fats, or whatever compound butter is made of.
Eco Pedicab melds eco-friendly travel with engaging urban tours. Its squad of cyclists and city guides usher riders along city streets in pedicabs that eliminate the release of harmful emissions produced by cabs or buses. Knowledgeable guides share the sights and tastes of the area during tours of historic locations, chic eateries, or local breweries. The bike pilots are also on call throughout the week to take riders for quick trips around town and to save them from having to track down a taxi or weightlifters willing to give out piggy back rides.
Within an intimate studio characterized by exposed-brick, Tiffany-box-blue, and burnt-orange walls, Allegro Coaching stirs with a bustling schedule of more than 20 different group fitness classes per week. During warm months, coaches lead outdoor boot camp classes at parks around Grand Rapids. Certified instructors, many of whom hold degrees in exercise science and have trained MMA fighters, shepherd both exercise-uninitiated and seasoned athletes through the cardio and strength-training exercises of boot-camp sessions or muscle- and definition-building TRX-suspension-training, Pilates, or boxing classes. The studio's personal trainers also travel to local businesses, where they enlighten employees with wellness counseling and onsite coaching and offer practical tips for staying active in the office that move beyond typical exercises such as crab-walking in circles around cubicles or shadow-boxing the water cooler.
At the Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse, yogis of all levels practice within a space maintained at a balmy 95 degrees, a temperature ideal for releasing toxins, warming leftover lasagna, and boosting flexibility. Seventy-five-minute cardio-heavy classes tone muscles and keep hearts steadily pumping blood through the body. Senior instructors lead Absolute Beginners classes, teaching the fundamental poses and terminology of Vinyasa sequences so pupils can eventually move on to more advanced Power Vinyasa courses.
The Elbow Room's cozy neighborhood confines welcome grub-guzzlers and fryer fanatics for spirited rounds of conversation and culinary consumption. Plop into a cushy green booth and sidle up to the menu, bedecked with a bounty of bar favorites that are served till 2 a.m. nightly. Turophiles can take leave from composing their Piave-themed opera and enjoy the dairy deposits of cheese-slathered items such as the chicken quesadilla ($7.25), deluxe chips and cheese ($7.25), chili-cheese-loaded fries ($6.25), or cheese pretzels ($7.25). The Elbow Room's savory wings ($7.25 for nine, $10 for 15) send poultry patrons aflutter, while the bacon cheeseburger ($8.25) impresses meat historians with its monumental merging of previously warring proteins. Vegetarians can opt for a large green salad ($5) or a garden burger ($6.75).