A longtime tennis player, Mark Platt began teaching the sport as soon as he graduated from high school. However, after a brief period of instructing at local country clubs, he realized that his heart wasn’t in the work. The country clubs catered to intermediate and advanced players, and Mark wanted to teach beginners. In the absence of a satisfactory beginning tennis program in the area, he founded Mark Platt’s Beginner’s World Tennis in 1984.
As a tennis instructor, Mark has won numerous awards from such prestigious publications as Tennis Pro and Tennis Industry, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. Specifically geared toward beginners, his program combines lessons with special events including camps, leagues, and parties designed to encourage socializing—so far, his program has spawned 53 marriages. He and his small staff have big plans for the beginning tennis world; this year alone, they expect to introduce 10,000 adults, children, and marionettes to the sport.
The Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet has been plucking its way around the world for three decades, compiling a critically acclaimed catalog of recordings that experiment with and meld a potpourri of musical genres. For their December 11 concert, the energetic foursome will enchant eardrums with works by Rossini, Bizet, and other composers within the acoustically satisfying surroundings of the 560 Music Center's 1,100-seat E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall. This performance is the third of the 2010–11 season for the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, which promotes classical fretted-instrument appreciation via education and performances by local and world-renowned musicians.
Experienced staff at Quick Tone Fitness & Tanning Center takes over solar duties with a variety of services to bronze skin. During spray-tanning sessions, specialists cloak physiques in even coats of paraben- and perfume-free Sun FX potions brewed from purified water and natural ingredients. Sun FX tanning solutions react with the amino acids in skin to leave a tan with the even gold hue of King Midas' stress ball. In traditional UV-tanning sessions, guests may swaddle complexions within Level 3 beds or high-intensity Level 6 beds with 360 degrees of glowing rays. Patrons gain evening access to Quick Tone Fitness & Tanning Center, which requires only a personal security code that doubles as a Morse-code theme song.
Players defeat bosses, slam foosballs, and shoot aliens out of the sky at Game Haven STL. This gaming lounge brings together consoles and arcade games ranging from Atari to Xbox One in one safe space for kids and adults. Big-screen TVs and computers set up for LAN parties allow for group play, making it a good destination for birthday parties or as a place to make a new friend. In addition to video and arcade games, Game Haven hosts tabletop play—owner Gabriel Escobedo first became enamored with gaming after playing Magic: The Gathering in the early '90s. Participants can also use the free WiFi and enjoy concessions whenever they need a break from jumping over barrels or capturing mushrooms.
Like the CGI monster-filled remake of How Green Was My Valley, STL Cinemas combine state-of-the-art technology with classic Hollywood aesthetics. Mainstream blockbusters and independent films happily rub silver-screen shoulders on each theater's marquee, while the retro lounges and concession stands serve enough beer, wine, and classy sweets to keep movie-goers sugar-buzzing—or just plain buzzing—through any double-feature. Voted Readers' Pick Movie Theatre by St. Louis Magazine readers, the Moolah Theatre's single screen is one of the biggest in town, and cinephiles can take their pick of 400 stadium seats, plush leather couches, or balcony seating. Chase Park Plaza Cinemas—nestled inside the Chase Park Plaza Hotel building—boasts five auditoriums with luxury seating. Granite City Cinemas is brand-new with all digital projection. And exposed beams and stage lighting add a vintage touch to Galleria 6's lobby, while its bar provides a lovely backdrop for post-film discussions, screenplay pitches, or outbursts of hard-boiled dialogue and artfully lit cigarette smoke.
When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.