When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number more than 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
The fleet-footed instructors at Vargo’s Dance impart ballroom-dancing skills to beginning or advanced students in custom private lessons and fun, social group classes. Whether students want to learn a variety of dance styles or just brush up their macarena, each lesson is customized to meet individual goals. In addition to styles ranging from the waltz to the hustle, Vargo's Dance offers body-toning Zumba classes for all ages and sizes. Classes are led by licensed instructor Tom Lafser, who lost more than 100 pounds himself through Zumba's fusion of upbeat music and Latin-inspired dance moves.
Sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows drenches the spacious studio as dancers sashay across pale hardwood floors. A long, high mirror allows students to check their form and ensure their tutus are on straight as instructors demonstrate techniques.
Between constant pants and grunts, it can be tough to belt a few song lyrics. But at S&L Tri-Cycle Fit Studio, students strive to do just, spinning feverishly while singing into handheld microphones during karaoke cycling class. The musical motif carries over to the studio's other cycling classes, such as pedal parties, whose colored lights, thumping beats, and disco ball recreate the experience of a nightclub without the mean bouncer drawing mustaches on everyone's IDs.
All these unique class concepts sprout from the mind of owner Leslie Grosshauser, who's worked in the fitness industry for more than 25 years. In S&L, Leslie cultivates a place to get fit, have fun, and fulfill a competitive edge while experiencing plenty of variety—a key component to keeping routines fresh.
At YK Martial Arts, students train and learn in a rigorous yet supportive environment where instructors marry technique with the principles of respect, discipline, and compassion. A 6th dan black belt in tae kwon do and a 5th dan black belt in hapkido, Grandmaster Yong-ki Yoon leads a seasoned group of instructors. Classes can help develop the motor skills of children aged 3 and older and work with adults to challenge and improve flexibility, fitness, and energy levels.
Breezes drift east off the Fox River and through the tree lines of Pottawatomie Golf Course, a spectacular layout recognized by Golf World as the No. 15 nine-hole course in America in 2010. The course traces its roots back to 1939, when legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. capitalized on the area's natural splendor to design a course that originally charged golfers a quarter to play and was best conquered by clubs made from stale baguettes.
Recently, the par 35 course has been the subject of a vigorous renovation, including efforts to reshape greens and preserve native habitats for the deer, foxes, and egrets that populate the grounds. These conservation efforts were rewarded in 1997, when Pottawatomie Golf Course became the first nine-hole course recognized as a fully certified sanctuary by Audubon International.
The course's picturesque conditions are on full display at the par-four third hole, where a curving fairway vanishes into the river and golfers must launch approach shots onto a water-surrounded green. After a day of fore-hollering fun, golfers can peruse the pro shop for the latest gear and clubs to replace irons that ran away to chase dreams of one day growing into a cell-phone tower.
Course at a Glance:
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.