In 1986, brothers and lifelong martial artists Jeff and Jade Hockman began practicing Songahm tae kwon do, a well-rounded martial art that ranks among the world's most popular styles. After years of disciplined physical and mental training, they have earned the distinction of sixth-degree master instructors of the craft and have won multiple medals at the ATA World Championships. Today, they pass on their knowledge at four Missouri dojos that offer training for both adults and children. Numerous pupils have become masters under the Hockmans' training, including more than 500 black belts and numerous state champions.
Knights, cowpokes, jousters, and dedicated patriots all find good reason to journey to Boster Castle, a permanent Renaissance village that also functions as a film studio and year-round festival space. The castle hosts elaborately staged annual festivals, transporting visitors to eras of the distant past. Patrons may find themselves in the midst of a Wild West frontier town—where costumed cowboys play games of Texas hold’em and banjo players entertain ears with the Top 40 hits of the Gold Rush era—or in a storybook Renaissance town populated by archery tournaments, turkey legs, crooning minstrels, and live comedy shows. At each fair, attendees peruse vendors boasting authentic weaponry, period costumes, and the latest in chain-mail formalwear. The castle also hosts monthly themed socials in which revelers can sit for entertainment and fare surrounding mythical cultures, fantasy worlds, or storied periods in history.
Rifkin Professional Karate Center gives its pupils options. The basis of its curriculum is a blend of karate, tae kwon do, kickboxing, and aikido, which allows students to use a range of kicking, blocking, and strength-maneuvering techniques to burn calories and tone the body. The end result is an attempt to help students lose weight and get into the best shape of their lives. The center's founder is JD Rifkin, a black belt master instructor with 26 years of experience studying, teaching, and fighting. His talents have extended to choreographed stunt work and circuit fighting, but it was his passion for teaching that led him to open his martial-arts studio. Here, students young and old can brush up their skills in a number of disciplines.
During a 60-minute relaxation massage, Wellness Connections' muscle menders vie for merit badges in untying knots as they stimulate circulation and clear away stress from head to toe with a full-body barrage of calming techniques. Following a soothing rubdown, customers are free to slip into the rolling waters of a hot tub or clear pores in a sauna for 20 minutes. For an additional fee, clients can elect an upgraded tissue tranquilizing such as a deep-relaxation treatment or hot-stone massage that embraces back muscles with a litter of warm, cuddly pet rocks.
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.
Meditation Station incites tranquility with an eclectic stock of yoga gear, incense, and Eastern-influenced home décor. Shoppers can foster flexibility on a 1/4-inch yoga mat ($20), or garnish napes with a locally crafted hemp necklace ($15). Infuse faces with soothing scents with an aromatherapy citrus green tea facial cleanser ($20), or perch upon a Carolina Morning meditation cushion ($35) as respite from particularly stressful games of Candy Land.