Led by martial artist Bill Essex, a Shaolin kung fu and tai chi black belt, Shaolin-Do Martial Arts trains children and adults in the time-honored Eastern discipline of combat. At Shaolin-Do, students can prepare to become black belts or train for competitions, but that’s never the main focus. Instead, the instructors hope to instill confidence and skill through a fitness activity they can practice for life. Shaolin-Do blends hard and soft arts to develop internal and external strength simultaneously. Along with kung fu and tai chi classes, students can also participate in month-long boot camps that incorporate martial-arts moves and other exercise techniques for full-body workouts.
The instructors at Lush Pole Fitness have always loved to dance. That, combined with owner Lisa's curiosity for all things taboo, was the catalyst for Lush Pole Fitness, a studio where ladies of all ages and sizes build core strength and tone legs and arms during invigorating pole-dancing classes. They also invite students to frolic together during parties that elevate birthdays and bachelorette celebrations.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your 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.
Though the staff at The Brass Tap take beer very seriously, they've nevertheless turned drinking it into a game. Customers get a single point for each of the pub's 300 craft beers that they try. At certain milestones, they'll receive gift cards or a t-shirt with a new title, all the way from rookie to beer guru—and, if they conquer the challenge three times, they can win the coveted Repeat Offender 900 shirt.
Thankfully, the bar makes it easy to sort through its 300 beers. The menu is divided up into different beer types, which go deeper than the basic delineation of ale vs. lager vs. water that's been dyed amber. Guests can peruse listings of bottled barleywines and porters, or have a resident beer aficionado fill their mug with an imported brew on draft. Beer even permeates the food: the chipotle mustard on the house-baked pretzels is made with pale ale, just as the cheese dip is made with Samuel Adams. All of the burgers, sandwiches, and pretzel pizzas also have recommended drink pairings.
As for entertainment, each Brass Tap books a variety of local bands throughout the week. Trivia, bingo, and happy hours find regular spots on the schedule, and some locations have outdoor patios and cigars for purchase.
At Shapes Total Fitness for Women, the instructors strive to make working out as easy and fun as possible. That's why—in addition to providing access to free weights and cardio machines—they host more than 67 group training sessions per week, with options ranging from yoga to indoor cycling. That way, clients can get in shape using whatever means work best for them. Some of the eclectic classes have zero impact on joints, too—specifically the ones in the on-site pool. These include 45-minute water cardio classes and versatile aqua aerobics sessions, which are ideal for athletes with arthritis and other special needs. The most completely flexible workouts at the gym, however, are the personal training sessions. The one-on-one workouts are designed purely around the client's goals, whether she wants to lose weight or grow strong enough to carry her favorite dumbbell home with her.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.