Ultimate Martial Arts owner Dante E. Peña, an award-bedecked tae kwan do black belt, instructs fleet-fisted self-defenders in a state-of-the-art, 5,600-square-foot wonderland. The school's schedule teems with classes that furnish men and women of all ages with the muscle-molding prowess of krav maga, boxing, kickboxing, and jiu jitsu. Ultimate Martial Arts' cutting-edge TRX suspension system gives burgeoning cores an intense resistance workout, and the school's yoga classes maintain the flexibility necessary to select hard-to-reach Street Fighter characters.
Motivating, highly trained staff and spacious facilities complement Charter Fitness's battalion of cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Huge flat-screen TVs motivate gym-goers as they lift weights, stationary bikes, and their reflections in large mirrors. Seasoned personal trainers who all hold certifications or four-year degrees in their specialty guide members through an initial personal-training session, introducing clients to the best equipment for their fitness goals. After workouts, private showers or public water fountains sluice away sweat.
The instructors at Lion’s Roar Kung Fu Academy believe that building a sound body leads to having a peaceful mind. During tai chi class, clients learn the flowing, smooth movements that make tai chi such a popular form of exercise around the world. Those practicing tai chi develop increased focus, and strengthen muscles in an almost meditative environment. Lion’s Roar also teaches Thai boxing, Lama kung fu, kali, and brazilian jujitsu in its mirror-lined studio.
Born in Bulgaria in 1959, fencer Hristo Etropolski soon traded his rattle for a saber, competing twice in the Olympic Games—including a fifth-place finish in 1980—and earning medals in two World Championships. After settling down in 2005, Hristo founded Midwest Fencing Academy, where, as head coach, he draws on almost 40 years of competition and teaching experience to sharpen students’ sparring skills. Of his past protégés, one received a gold medal in the Junior World Cup, and many have secured fencing scholarships at Ivy League universities, where their mighty swords reign undefeated against opponents' puny pens.
Midwest Fencing Academy specializes in the lightest of fencing's three weapons, the saber, whose required speed and quick thinking puts students' hearts and reflexes to the test, building discipline and good sportsmanship. The facility boasts five regulation strips, four of which are wired with electronic scoring, and includes a large viewing space for friends or parents to shout French translations of witty retorts from the sidelines.
For Urban Beat Dance founder Shannon Murray, dancing is much more than a passionate pastime. She earned a BA in Dance Administration and Teaching, and illuminated the path towards fleet-footendess for 15 years in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Having performed at concerts and in music videos, Shannon’s diverse dance experiences help her lead a staff of experience dancers. Instructors guide students toward their individual dance goals, whether they want to join an international ballet company or simply learn sashays and pirouettes to perform during jury deliberations.
Kids rev up their imaginations inside Exploritorium, transforming into little inventors, climbers, or stars of the stage. Tykes caper through a slew of different interactive spaces, including a two-and-half story play structure chock full of tunnels and slides. A waterfall provides kids with a space to play with water toys, and includes a space for toddlers to sit and play in. Visual creations illuminate a giant light brite, and an engineering station crinkles new folds into little scientifically-minded brains. Nearby, a dress-up area wardrobes kids for stints as princesses and heros, readying them to act out adventures on the nearby stage.
More formal performances occur the third Tuesday of every month. On those days, a storyteller takes over the stage and spins exciting, family-friendly tales. Holidays usher in even more events, such as a Halloween party and an Itty Bitty New Year for families.