When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first of their gyms in 1980, they chartered their gym around three values: service, cleanliness, and having owners operate their own facilities. True to the founders' original vision, each location's employees strive to keep their cardio and resistance equipment spic and span as they care for facilities. In addition to personal training, instructors lead a schedule of more than 400 group fitness classes?including cycling, Kardio Kick, and Zumba?offered each week across their eight locations. At the clubs, trainers also help guests master CrossFit functional equipment and use TRX suspension training systems to help them connect with their vine-savvy pet orangutans.
Environmental preservation, rehabilitation, and education abound at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, a sanctuary harboring more than 80 nonreleasable animals from around the globe, a number of which have made on-screen appearances with the likes of Rachael Ray and Conan O’Brien. In its 25th year, the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization hosts more than 2,500 educational programs and numerous events showcasing its panoply of raptors, wildcats, and barn owls, that, since 1994, have blossomed thanks to Hawk Creek’s barn-owl-breeding project. Hands-on activities place visitors face-to-face with the facility’s feathered residents—including a bald eagle—and an onsite gift shop brims with ornithological souvenirs and signed headshots of Big Bird.
Originally sculpted into the rolling terrain of western New York in 1920, South Shore’s 18-hole course invites golfers of all stripes to conquer its pristine fairways. The grassy monolith stretches across 150 acres of scenic, parkland terrain, where players must shape their shots around babbling creeks, mature trees, and lakes where discontent golf balls live out fantasies of becoming submarines in search of Atlantis, the Utopian land responsible for the Arnold Palmer drink. A pro shop and clubhouse sit on the scenic hillsides, beckoning players with post-round beverages, upgraded golf accessories, and slice-prone spirits yelling “fore” at one another.
The chopper controllers at Western New York Helicopters steer flight instruction that ranges from one-time introductory experiences to complete pilot certification. The resident fleet of R44s and S-300Cs gamely trucks the earthbound on any aeronautic needs, from local tours to power line patrols to diplomatic negotiations with the owl kingdom. Launching from Hamburg Airport just 15 miles south of Buffalo, the happy hoverers direct air traffic from both Canadian and stateside pilots-to-be.
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed exclusively for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottle to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Snap Fitness's easyFIT monitor is a small, clip-on accelerometer that helps keep track of daily exercise. Unlike pedometers that merely measure steps and spy on daydreams, the easyFIT monitor senses the intensity and duration of physical activity, transmogrifying those stats into simple, numerical points that help assess activity levels from sedentary to peak performance. In addition to tracking exercise in real time, easyFIT monitors can connect to the wearer's personal web portal to upload data and create fitness graphs that help show progress, snag exercise suggestions, and stave off the temptation of living next to a hamburger farm. Watch a video about the easyFit here.