In the Old World, castles were places to live, govern, and seek shelter. Today, there are still places designed to keep the outside world at bay, but rather than standing as bastions of military defense, they serve as oases of relaxation, fitness, and fun. Riviera Country Club and Sports Center is one such getaway. There, members can explore a vast campus of athletic and recreation amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, a full gym, and a spa. Though the club’s organizers leave plenty of time for individuals to play in each space, they also host organized events, including regular group fitness classes such as boot camp, kickboxing, and Latin dance. They maintain a vast array of sports courts, as well, allowing members to feed their competitive sides in basketball, tennis, and racquetball arenas. As adults young and old sweat during their chosen forms of play, staffers help tykes explore their creativity in a play space known as the Sandbox, which combines education, arts and crafts, and computers to produce a secret army of glitter robots.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
The owners of Evolution Music have been a fixture in Chicago's music scene for years. They've operated several music venues, recorded albums for area bands, and organized concerts for more than 5,000 local and national acts. At their Orland Park studio, they help musicians of all experiences to develop their skills with guitar, bass, piano, and drum lessons. Visitors can also peruse instruments in an onsite shop or schedule an appointment in the onsite recording studio.
For more than 30 years, the ladies at Women's Workout & Wellness have cultivated a supportive environment in which women can focus on health, fitness, and wellness. Whether grooving through Zumba sessions, pushing weight sleds, performing lifts, or sweating, students find plenty of challenges in the center’s classes. Staffers gauge fitness level by analyzing BMI and testing cardio, strength, flexibility, and the ability to karate-chop airborne cucumbers. Experts also lend advice on nutritional intake and help clients set personalized goals. Before and after sweat sessions, ladies can suit up and cool down in the spacious showers and locker rooms at each location. Daycare is available at some locations for a nominal fee.
The Chicago White Sox have some truly dedicated fans. In 1994, the team decided to reach out to the youngsters who worshipped their footwear. They sought to provide kids with the same conditioning and training they honed their skills with, so they started a sports-training summer camp. In a mere seven years, demand for the trainers' services necessitated that the program conduct year-round sessions in all types of sports, and the Bulls/Sox Academy was born.
Taught by the trainers who spend their life making sure that the Sox and Bulls are ready to hit the field or court, Bulls/Sox Academy's lessons bring professional techniques to aspiring athletes. Baseball programs teach functional speed movements for high-speed base stealing and help kids build the upper-body strength to knock balls out of the park and through the windshield of their least favorite neighbor's minivan. The basketball course divvies up training between shooting, skills, and defensive play. The fast-pitch softball teachers—both former professional players and longtime coaches—arm students to beat back high-velocity pitches without hurting the ball's feelings.
A cadre of accomplished students mans hp: the college's three Chicago-area salons, where they learn the beauty trade while enhancing client appearances for less than at standard studios. Founded in 1979, the college instructs fledgling stylists in the latest trends and aesthetic remedies with products from Moroccanoil, Wella, and Dermalogica. At all three locations, sleek black styling chairs contrast with colorful bottles of hair products and OPI nail polish set amid the comfort of plush pedicure chairs. As students ply their skills on ravishing haircuts and clarifying facials, aesthetics pupils use carefully blended botanicals to add aroma, hydration, and palm-sized zen gardens to manicures and pedicures.