In Stuart Alexander's perfect world, every garden is a wonderland. Blades of grass form an undisturbed carpet of green, flowers burst with intense color and fragrant smells, and trees provide shady havens for weary travelers. Now, after spending years as an event planner and designer, Stuart works his artistry outside as part of 5th Room Landscapes. Working with seasoned landscapers and garden experts, Stuart's team oversees all facets of domestic plant life, from designing and installing gardens to maintaining creations throughout all seasons yet to come. Their spaces are as usable as they are beautiful, encouraging homeowners to spend more time barbecuing in the summer, leaf-peeping in the autumn, and protecting the yard from territorial hockey players in the winter.
It isn’t uncommon for the vastly different worlds of charity fundraising and pole dancing to collide at various local philanthropic functions throughout Iowa. That’s because staff members at Wicked Enchantment Pole Dancing & Fitness Studio continue to prove that pole fitness can benefit their community as well as raise money for organizations such as Children's Miracle Network and Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. They channel this same spirit of support during their group and private classes back at their ladies-only workout venue.
They restrict their pole-based classes to six people, fostering an intimate and supportive environment for women to master climbs, grips, and twirls. Their curriculum also hones in on the healthy aspect of the art, listing classes that target arms, abs, and cores as well as full-body boot-camp workouts. They teach several levels of pole dancing and corresponding choreography classes, building fluid routines by augmenting maneuvers with transitions and lubricating arm joints with 10W-40.
Though many students come to Mathnasium having fallen behind their classmates, a mathematically advanced child sparked the learning program’s creation. As founder Larry Martinek’s young son, Nic, developed an appetite for higher-level math concepts, Larry found himself developing an entirely new teaching language to explain them in an age-appropriate way. The kind of instincts he sought to build up couldn’t be nurtured by drills and rote memorization. Instead, they required a deeper understanding of the principles at the root of mathematical operations, delivered in a way that grade-school kids could apply throughout their academic careers.
In just a decade’s time, Larry and his team have established Mathnasium centers in most U.S. states and more than a dozen other countries. At each, instructors with high level math skills develop custom learning plans for students in grades K–12 based on The Mathnasium Method. The system combines an education strategy of conceptual, tactile, and visual techniques with a curriculum structure that ensures kids can count, think proportionally, and tell the difference between a multiplication sign and a plus sign by scent alone. Instructors allow some time each session to help students with the concepts in their math homework, and the centers regularly check report cards and standardized tests as further measures of progress.
Farrell?s eXtreme Body Shaping helps clients of all ages, lifestyles, gender, and athletic ability achieve their fitness goals through results-orientated training. Long-time taekwondo competitor and teacher Lance Farrell developed the program to combat obesity and assist people develop healthy lifestyle habits by incorporating the fat-burning, strengthening and endurance building aspects of competitive martial arts training into a course for those less interested in traditional sparring or contact drills. During 45-minute sessions hosted six days a week, Farrell uses fitness as a catalyst for improving overall health, wellness, and athletic abilities. A 10-week program can result in visible changes sparked by discipline and nutritional commitment.
Drawing upon eight years as a U.S. Army Ranger and a career in Washington state law enforcement, Larry R. Kolontar teaches students the skills and knowledge necessary to safely own a firearm. During his two- to three-hour sessions at Common Sense Firearms Training, the NRA-certified instructor maintains a low-key, unintimidating atmosphere where students can feel comfortable asking questions. Though catered to women, his class imparts basic firearm knowledge to any pupil, ranging from proper grip to care and maintenance.
Mary Mayer's career in Irish dancing started when she took her first lessons in Ireland while staying with her grandmother in the early '70s. She loved it so much that when she returned to Chicago, she—as well as her brother John—began taking lessons at a local Irish-dance school, where they danced with such people as Lord of the Dance creator Michael Flatley. Both Mary and John eventually starting placing at regional and national championships.
In 1980, they founded the Mayer School of Irish Dancing. It began in a basement with only five students—two of who were their younger brother and sister, Paul and Julie Mayer. These two followed in their older siblings' footsteps by placing in championships and even landing roles in Road to Perdition. Paul trained actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and danced with her in the film. Julie also trained many actors and performed alongside Paul Newman and Daniel Craig.
Though John has since retired, Mary continues to teach classes six days a week in Villa Park and Galena. Paul and Julie man two of the school's additional locations, which now span four states. Their students have placed in regional and national championships. Some have even traveled to Ireland to put their skills on display at the All-Ireland Championship and see if any snakes have found their way back yet.