At any given time of the day, Japan House may be experiencing a tranquil stillness as students quietly cycle through poses, or combat as students kick, punch, and strike padded opponents. A cultural, fitness, and wellness center, Japan House offers yoga, qigong, and Tai Chi classes that provide a physical, mental, and spiritual workout that’s also low impact, quiet, and relaxing. On the other hand, Kempo karate and jujutsu give workouts an extra punch–literally. The classes teach students offensive and defensive striking methods and takedowns to use as self-defense against bullies, attackers, and low-flying pigeons. Aikido, a non-violent form of self-defense, teaches students to use the attacker’s own force to throw them off balance and prevent an attack.
In 1975, four friends with hearts full of the great outdoors decided they needed a place to get gear indoors. This quest for adventuring equipment lead Bubba Sloan, Gerald Marshall, Denny Mays, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Outfitters as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead, while Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids. The store kits out customers for safe communing with nature with tools and togs from manufacturers including The North Face, Patagonia, and Big Green Egg, whose verdantly painted smoker grill creates hot meals in the midst of a long trip or particularly boring wait in the airport. Meanwhile, guides lead expeditionary parties along on waterborne trips down the Middle and Upper Ocoee’s burbling banks, recapturing the sun-dappled fun that inspired the store's creation in the first place.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Peter Glenn stocks its shelves with a wealth of sporting equipment and apparel for tennis, skiing, snowboarding, and water skiing. Brands such as Alpinestar, Wilson, Prince, K-Swiss, and Head line the walls of both Atlanta locations, waiting to slip over heads, armor shoulders and feet, and comfort whining tennis elbows. Tail and K-Swiss tennis garments distract opponents with bright colors and sleek designs ($35+), and a re-strung racket ($18) and new tennis balls ($2.99+) let the seed of a powerful forehand flower into beautiful aces. Springing flashily out of their boxes and leather jackets, tennis shoes ($59.99+) and rackets ($79.99+) intimidate opponents with their frightening utility and charm referees with their roguish good looks.
Craft a rope made of straws and climb the food pyramid with Planet Smoothie's menu as a trusty, yet tasty Sherpa. Thirst quenchers are grouped according to blasts, which range from the protein-rich workout blast to the vitamin-C-loaded immunity blast. For post-gym Planet Smoothie consumption, wrap your muscled eyebrows around a Big Bang, loaded with strawberries, bananas, vanilla, and your choice of protein or workout blast. If you catch a tickle in your throat, breeze through an anti-sick sampling of the Screamsicle, a pineapple-peach concoction with orange juice, yogurt, orange sherbet, and 230 percent of your daily vitamin C. To simultaneously support breast-cancer research and taste buds, sip on the Pink Promise smoothie, a blend high in antioxidants. Smoothies range in size from the after-jog-appropriate 22-ounce ($4.49) to the meal-substituting 44-ounce large ($6.55), and all drinks may be customized or supplemented upon request (try a Merlin's Mix—a protein-packed powder that turns your smoothie into a meal replacement, $2.99 additional). Planet Smoothie uses Pro-Yo, a frozen yogurt that is naturally fat free, low calorie, a friend to the digestive system, and sweetened with Stevia. The Vinings and Midtown locations also offer wheatgrass shots ($1.75–$3.25 for a 1- to 2-ounce shot).
Nothing Bundt Cakes mixes fresh eggs, genuine butter, and cream cheese into rounded risers worthy of slapping up on Mom's fridge. Choose from nine moistened cake flavors, such as ravishingly rich red velvet or swirlishly scrawled marble. The bakery’s lemon bundt cake satiates sweet teeth, and raging chocoholics can get a day’s worth of fixes with the moist and decadent chocolate chocolate chip. Every cake, from the pineapple-studded carrot cake to the streusel-like pecan praline, comes topped with thick petals of Nothing Bundt Cakes’ signature cream-cheese frosting.