Spawned by gung mao kung fu, a form of martial arts developed in 19th-century Okinawa, Gangi kung fu arose in 1985 thanks to Master Soshihan Joe Gangi. He held a black belt in gung mao kung fu, goju karate, jujitsu, and many other forms of martial arts. So he combined ancient and modern components of MMA to create something new: Gangi kung fu. The method married yoga-inspired conditioning moves and meditation with sparring. At Gangi Martial Arts & Fitness, Master Gangi and his assistant teachers continue to promote the unique practice through their martial-arts classes.
Paramount Grove’s head trainer Molly McAdow welcomes eager horseback riders to her 30-acre countryside headquarters, where they’ll find two outdoor arenas, one indoor arena, and a hunt field ready for trotting and galloping. McAdow has honed her expertise throughout a lifetime of horseback riding—a career that includes numerous salt-lick tastings and medals in both the equitation and hunter rings as a junior. Riders learn from her wisdom during lessons, in which she sheds light on proper technique and helps students achieve their goals.
Steeds’ safety is also of high importance to McAdow. Fire-safety sprinklers protect every private stall, and the barn and indoor arena are heated during the winter. This prevents horses from getting cold and snowmen from wandering inside to taunt the animals with their noses.
Six national flags representing sovereignties such as Germany, the United States, and Great Britain hang valiantly from the rafters of Pine Grove Equestrian Center’s indoor arena. At 63’ x 168’, the heated space provides ample room for riders ranging from beginners to advanced equestrians to pairs of Shetland ponies in trench coats. Students enjoy one-on-one attention from passionate instructors during lessons that focus on developing proper technique in the saddle as well as a bond between rider and horse.
Some consider golf a slow sport, perhaps even antiquated. But Golf Nation brings the traditional pastime into the modern age with the most contemporary technology and tools, including true-roll indoor putting and chipping greens and virtual golf simulators. The simulator transports golfers to more than 50 legendary courses, including Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Old Course at St. Andrews. Golfers can also read up on the latest golf-training materials, perfect their game at true-roll indoor putting greens and multiple chipping short game areas; an indoor bunker area made of real sand ideal for green and fairway side shots; or they can venture outside for driving-range practice from heated bays.
With 25,000 square feet of space, Golf Nation also houses a fitness club stocked with quality cardio equipment and extra space for group yoga and spin classes. A café and lounge claims the remainder of the space, brimming with the aromas of healthy food and sound of convivial chatter.
Sheltered within the picturesque expanse of the Lake County Forest Preserves, Countryside Golf Club gives players a choice between two courses that roll through scenic terrain certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Before taking to either course, golfers can tee off on the driving range, where 30 hitting stations are trimmed with natural turf and synthetic grass grown fresh each season from seedlings of recycled sneakers. The club’s Prairie course and Traditional course are each marked by unique terrain features and challenges. The Prairie course is the longer of the two and eschews trees for wispy shrubbery and open vistas. It demands both hearty drives and accurate approach shots to greens hugged by sand bunkers and unemployed yetis. Through slightly shorter, the Traditional course tasks players with striking precise tee shots from bentgrass tee boxes overlooking tree-lined fairways.
Diamond Edge LLC's head instructor, Samantha Swanson, got her start as an equestrian when she was just four years old. Because her parents lived on a dude ranch, Samantha started out with Western riding before transitioning to English riding at the age of six—a discipline that would carry her to prestigious circuit championships all the way through high school. Today, with her competition years behind her, she grooms new legions of riders to compete at the same high level. She starts beginners out with the basics of communication with the horse—including vocal commands, body language, and love letters written in hoof tracks—until they're ready to move on to entry-level jumping and showing in intermediate lessons. Students can also fine tune their skills in advanced lessons, and truly push themselves to perform their best if they're willing and able to take on the challenge of show team lessons.
Any martial-arts education involves hard knocks and tough falls, but U.S. Elite Martial Arts & Fitness Center cushions the blows with its 4,000 square feet of matted floors. Atop them, trainees exchange blows in boxing and muay thai kickboxing classes. Brazilian jujitsu, wrestling, and judo fighters perform takedowns as elegant as they are brutal, following up with holds and joint locks that immobilize an opponent’s body. The center also trains children in self-defense, tying their lessons into school to raise grades and impart nonviolent antibullying techniques, such as calling a playground summit.