While many fitness gurus limit their gear to traditional hand weights and medicine balls, the inspired trainers at Accelerated Athlete also incorporate sledgehammers, tractor tires, battle ropes, and ladders into their exercise classes. Far from limited to life in the toolshed, these unusual components are the building blocks of heart-pumping exercise routines that confuse muscles into becoming stronger and bodies into becoming leaner. Trainers' encouraging words play an equal role, inspiring students to sweat through boot camps, power yoga, kickboxing, and high-intensity interval training tailored to each individual’s skill level.
Named for the main river running through Venezuela, Orinoco Fitness is a studio that aims to be as relaxing as a day out in nature. Owner Ana Santos Gitzinger, a native Venezuelan, styled the studio in a way that evokes the beauty of her homeland. The walls of Orinoco Fitness are splashed with images of South American waterfalls, mountains, and rainforests in order to help clients “shake off the Midwestern wintertime blues.” Above all, Gitzinger wants her clients to achieve fitness in an environment that’s fun and relaxing. In keeping with the stress-free atmosphere, students are encouraged to relax with a cup of tea in the lounge area after each yoga, Zumba, or Pilates class.
Before establishing Couture Cupcake Cafe, owner Cathi Volante was submerged in the world of public relations and marketing. But a desire to do something sweeter in life drew her to the world of desserts, where she now churns out handcrafted cakes, cupcakes, and savory pastries from the kitchen of her gourmet shop. Cathi’s lengthy menu of collections packs in more than 60 cheekily named cake flavors—the Jimmy Choo honors the designer’s decadent styles with rich layers of Belgian chocolate, and the 24 Carrot Cake’s orange cream-cheese icing pops like its golden namesake. Cathi also whips up such delicacies as savory cakes made from lobster and caviar, entices kids with s’more and donut flavors, and crafts men-centric treats including a BLT cake filled with bacon and flannel shirts. Dedicated to her customers, Cathi will even whip up gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, organic, or 100-calorie versions of her cupcakes or crown regular treats with whipped-cream icing.
The boutique shop also pleases sweet teeth with more than 600 Italian-gelato flavors at the adjoining Ciao! gelato bar and pours out glasses of Arabica gourmet organic coffee and custom-blended iced teas. To keep the good karma coming in, Couture Cupcake Cafe also donates 10% of its proceeds to local churches, charities, and organizations.
"No boys allowed," proclaims The Underground's website. If that makes it sound more like a playhouse than a gym, that's not an accident. Inside, you won't find any rows of treadmills or the latest elliptical machines. Instead, lights fit for a dance club shine as catchy music plays through an advanced sound system. In this festive space, women of all fitness levels support each other as they throw themselves into a wide range of classes, from the Latin dance–inspired cardio workouts of Zumba to the intense cross-training regimen of P90X. In other parts of the studio, they sculpt muscles via Booty Barre classes, learn to swing from aerial equipment, and work their way up dance poles in hopes of finding the hunky fire fighters at the top.
Borrowing its name from an ancient meditative chant, Forever Om Yoga turns up the heat on classic Vinyasa flows for calorie-burning, mind-clearing workouts. Aside from warming the studio to between 78 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit, a high-tech heating system cleans and recirculates air with an infrared light, facilitating easier, deeper breaths. In each 75-minute class, Yoga Alliance- and Baptiste-certified instructors lead groups through either gentle, 78-degree Vinyasa flows or hotter, high-energy flows inspired by Baptiste power yoga. The basic yoga class features the essential Vinyasa poses, and a class focused on athletic recovery incorporates therapeutic stretching and twists to help repair sore or strained muscles and prevent future injury during all-night Twister marathons.