Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.
America’s Mattress of the Carolinas' show rooms brim with plush, pillow-top, and memory-foam mattresses that vary in firmness and coil structure to help any sleeper find a match. The staff invites clients to try out a nap or enchanted slumber upon one of the store's own brand of budget-friendly mattresses. The selection also includes Tempur-Pedic models and Serta models, such as the iComfort with gel-infused memory foam.
To accessorize their purchases, clients can peruse a selection of bedroom furnishings, memory-foam pillows, and mattress protectors that seal in a mattress's naturally smoky flavor. Clients can enlist the store's staff to help haul away old bedding and set up new purchases.
In the kitchen at Mario’s Pizza, chefs heap cheese, steak, and sun-dried tomatoes onto oversize New York–style and sicilian pizza crusts. A white pizza covered in ricotta cheese, fresh garlic, and mozzarella reminds taste buds of eating a delicious snowman, and comes in sizes ranging from 10 inches to as large as 19 inches. Baked pasta and sandwiches, such as a philly steak or veal parmigiana, round out the menu.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend human rights" and "Protect our planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to a UK-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the Blue Corn 3-in-1 deep-cleansing scrub mask often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, and other national publications.
In the dark arena, space-age corridors glow violet, blue, and green. Plastic tubing snakes up along the walls past incandescent alien-like symbols. A low fog creeps along the floor and pulse-pounding music masks the sound of oncoming footsteps. Through these sci-fi environs, teams hunt down the opposition, decked out in futuristic vests and armed with flashing laser guns. At Lazer X, this is just one of their games that requires skill, strategy, and accuracy. In their laser maze, gamers must call on their best Mission Impossible moves to slide, slink, and shimmy under, over, and around a thicket of glowing laser beams. In between battles with or against laser, they keep guests challenged with arcade games, skee-ball, and air hockey.
At The Mattress Capital, a knowledgeable staff of salespeople guides visitors through firm or downy mattresses that are all eager to go home and snuggle up to their new owners' slumbering forms. Guests consult with staff members before receiving a personalized tour as salespeople demonstrate the knowledge they gleaned by training one-on-one with experts until they knew each mattress like a horse trainer knows sugar-cube melting points. All of the store's mattresses, including brands such as Tempur-Pedic and Simmons, come with a 90-day comfort guarantee.
Since 1949, the Monahan family has roasted peanuts, experimenting with recipes to cultivate a slew of tasty variations on the salty snack. Classicists munch the simple flavors of mixed nuts ($18.95/20 oz.), and bold noshers salivate at the array of flavored nuts, such as tangy, smoky barbecue ($10.75/22 oz.). Indulge a craving for a cayenne- pepper-covered beehive with a jar of hot honey peanuts ($16.95/40 oz.), or test taste buds’ spice threshold with jalapeno peanuts ($10.75/22 oz.). Sweet teeth delight in myriad dessert nuts, including chocolate-covered almonds ($18.95/22 oz.) and decadent honey-roasted cinnamon pecans ($18.95/18 oz.). More chewable than pound cake and more durable than a pound of deli meat, a can of peanut brittle ($12.50/16 oz.) delivers a welcome gift any time of year.