Samuel Clemens lived a life so full that it encompassed two names. He was a riverboat pilot, a silver prospector, and a newspaperman?and it was in this last trade that he first used the name under which he would author some of America's greatest fiction: Mark Twain. In works such as Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? Twain cast a wry spotlight on the political and industrial changes of the 19th century, from westward expansion to the end of slavery to the birth of ground-breaking technology such as the mustache comb. In much the same way, the very space where Twain wrote?the Hartford home where his family lived from 1874 to 1891?illuminates the times as well as the personal life of the man behind the letters.
These days, that home is a National Historic Landmark that serves as half of The Mark Twain House and Museum. Comprised of 25 rooms, including a glass conservatory and grand library, it has been open to the public since its 100th anniversary in 1974. Inside, visitors explore not only the billiard room where Twain penned novels such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but also nearly 16,000 Twain-related artifacts, such as his last pair of spectacles and photos of his daughters putting on plays. Even more objects and information fill the nearby LEED-certified museum, where rotating exhibits focus on subjects such as the Twain family's servants.
A member of the World Affairs Council of America, the World Affairs Council of Connecticut (WACCT) was founded in 1924 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that educates the public on global affairs and provides open dialogue on contemporary issues. With an individual membership, ponderers can be challenged with important questions surrounding the direction of the world, from how to solve the impending water crisis to what television channel to project onto the moon. Each member gains instant access to the WACCT's excellent lineup of programs, including the Executive Forum series, the Global Women's Issues Forum, and a lecture series. Such internationally renowned past keynotes have included former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, NBC news anchor Ann Curry, and former secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger.
"Her words changed the world," reads the website for the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. "What will you do?" As the author of the 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe's moving prose helped expose the brutal reality of slavery in the United States. Today, her family home still stands in honor of her memory, welcoming guests as a museum and historic site.
Visitors step into the past via the front door, stopping by the front parlor to see where the Stowes gathered to take tea, play games, and debate the pressing issues of the day. The ground floor also houses some of the Stowes' original furnishings, including a dining room table and Harriet's own oil and watercolor paintings. The second floor offers a more personal look at the author's day-to-day life through touches such as her hand-painted furniture, as well as a terrarium that reflected her love of nature. Guided tours can provide further insight into the life of a woman who, in a time period marked by prejudice and turmoil, nevertheless spoke in favor of equality and change.
The air was chilly and the sky was still dark one wintry morning in Hartford, when five women huddled around Racquel, awaiting instruction at the very first Racquels Addiction Fitness boot camp. But as hard as that first workout may have been, it obviously inspired something positive in the women who attended. From that day forward, word spread about the workout that group fitness instructor Racquel had put together—a powerful routine that targeted problem areas such as the hips, thighs, glutes, and abs and quickly transformed them with little to no help from cumbersome workout equipment.
Today, Racquel and fellow fitness instructor Betsy have branched out from just boot camp. At Racquel's Addiction Fitness, they also teach Piloxing (a blend of Pilates and boxing), Zumba, and Hot and Bothered on the Bench classes, which blast calories with help from a step bench and weights. And, in their quest to make fitness fun for everyone, the studio also hosts many exercise-themed special events, including chair dance fitness parties, pole dancing parties, and sultry potato sack races.
Starting in 1998 in the Philadelphia suburbs, the women behind Art of Exotic Dancing have strutted and hip-rolled their way to the forefront of a surge of interest in fun, sensual movement. Dedicated to fostering a comfortable space where all participants feel safe, the certified instructors proffer encouragement and reassurance as they teach dances that emphasize self-expression, personal power, and natural movement. Women learn to dance to a full song during the 90-minute CoreMoves class, while the Signature Workshop fortifies confidence via flirtatious techniques such as sensual walking and slow-motion winking.
PHIT Pilates Studio’s experienced instructors help students strengthen abdomens, backs, and resolve with training that focuses on individual goals and abilities. Owner and certified Pilates teacher Susannah Israel-Marchese and her team lead pupils through the discipline’s series of low-impact movements Monday–Friday. Using joint-friendly techniques, students augment strength in the abdomen, back, shoulders, and hip joints to achieve the goal of subbing for the vacationing Bulkeley Bridge. PHIT’s boutique-style studio maintains a noncompetitive atmosphere and a cheerful, personalized approach to working out. Proximity to the Real Art Ways theater allows newly straightened postures to pull off previously unattainable pranks, such as blocking views of people sitting behind them at art exhibits and independent films and sticking a flippant Post-it note to the top of Shaquille O'Neal's helicopter.