Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
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.
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.
With more than 11 years of cross-country dance experience, Almas Del Ritmo Dance Company LLC's artistic director and certified Zumba instructor Carmen Guynn promotes cultural awareness during a range of Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance classes, including Zumba, salsa, and bachata. The dance haven derives its name from the Spanish words for soul and rhythm, which Guynn hopes will inspire her students to summon their inner selves on the dance floor without toting along heavy x-ray machines. In addition, the studio donates money to charities such as International Crisis Aid, Feed the City, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Just Dancing's team of experienced instructors, which includes international competitors and dancers who train with former US champions, teaches budding dancers of all ages several styles, including swing, foxtrot, and salsa. Instructors offer private and group lessons for individuals and couples, dividing most group classes into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sessions so students can learn alongside those of similar skill levels. Staffers also lead nontraditional group classes such as classical Indian dance and yoga in addition to arranging special numbers for math-themed wedding ceremonies.
Unlike summer etiquette lessons or math camp, four days of baseball keep kids active and healthy while teaching them social skills and confidence. Whether or not kids go on to become players, they’ll learn the importance of sportsmanship as the friendly instructors make each day fun. Balls-n-Strikes pairs one certified instructor to every six kids. This ensures that the game will not have to go into the 16th inning before your child gets a chance to bat, and also removes the need to make up additional outfield positions such as "assistant to the regional shortstop" and "human foul pole."