Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
Since launching their flagship 10-week program in 2001, the instructors at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping have spurred more than 35,000 trainees across 42 locations toward their weight-loss goals. Classes burn fat and build lean muscle with fitness kickboxing and muscle-building with anaerobic bands. Coaches support trainees with a nutrition plan that breaks up food intake into six daily meals, increasing sustaining bodily energy and a sense of déjà vu. The founders of Farrell’s eXtreme Bodybuilding are so confident in their program that they offer a money-back guarantee for those dissatisfied with their results.
The "Amara" in Amara Yoga & Arts is a shortened version of "Amaranth," which alludes to a mythological flower that never dies. Studio co-owners Theresa Brandabur and Kathryn Fitzgerald believe that yoga brings people a step closer to that immortal flower, healing their bodies and restoring peace to their minds.
Their students tend to agree. Natural light filters in through the tall windows of the Urbana studio, illuminating these students as they work through challenging Vinyasa poses and gentler Hatha movements. Amara Yoga & Arts also offers a revolving calendar of yoga classes, including restorative, gentle, Hot and Power Flow, as well as Ashtanga.
A former dairy farm may seem like an unusual place to open a health-and-wellness retreat. Yet in 1983, Heartland Spa transformed one into a holistic spa resort and garnered national attention, due in part to one famous guest: Oprah Winfrey. Surrounded by 32 acres of woodland on a 3-acre lake, the spa has been praised for its "uniquely Midwestern, unpretentious environment" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Its five-bedroom, two-bathroom Carriage House offers a peaceful retreat each evening. And to promote healthy eating, the resident chef creates nutritious meals, such as breakfasts that may include egg-white frittatas, oatmeal, or peanut-butter-and-banana muffins. Heartland Spa & Fitness Resort’s two-to-one staff-to-guest ratio ensures all guests are supported and pampered as they unwind during their stay. The red barn and surrounding grounds house workout facilities and a spa and salon, replete with an indoor pool. An underground tunnel even connects the manor to the spa barn. Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, cardio kickboxing, and other fitness classes take place throughout the day, and a locker room fully equipped with a sauna and hot tub makes for a relaxing reprieve. Spa services also await, including an aromatherapy manicure or a Swedish massage.
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.