One fish peeks out inquisitively from behind a lichen-covered tank. Others swim through the windows and railings of a sunken ship, passing odd artifacts such as an electric guitar or a sign reading "Tricycle parking only." Surreal scenes like these aren’t accessible to most landlubbers, but they’re part of a worldwide subaquatic playground for Dive Right In’s students and staff of certified dive instructors and instructor trainers. An SDI, ERDi, and TDI five-star instructor training facility, the shop is helmed by teachers who coach their customers to achieve RTSC standards, and employ many of the same skills they use to train police, fire department, and lifeguard dive teams.
Among the caves and wrecks of local quarries and Lake Michigan, instructors prepare their trainees to dive down as far as 60 feet, the farthest depth at which they can guarantee there’ll be no sea monsters. They also lead courses in TDI technical diving, diver First-Aid, and specialty certifications such as adventure or rescue diver. Inside the dive shop, techs sell and repair masks, snorkels, wetsuits, and gear such as dive computers, regulators, and tanks.
Nestled in the historic Flanders House, Art Cube Studios contributes to the creative community in three distinct ways. First and foremost are their all-ages art classes, available in both one-off workshops and multiweek curriculums. The classes give participants the opportunity to work with media such as ceramics, acrylic paint, watercolors, the written word, and invisible ink for the extra shy. The studio’s second contribution is as a venue where students and resident artists can sell their work during a show. Finally, anyone in the community is welcome to rent out studio space by the hour, day, week, month, or pound.
As the Plainfield community has grown, so has its park district. Although the district was established in 1966, a population boom in the early '90s led to more diversified facilities, each one with different features. The Ottawa Street Pool, for example, invites visitors to bask in 200,000 gallons of crystal-blue water with diving boards and lap lanes, while the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center offers horseback-riding lessons and neighing tutorials in an indoor arena.
The equine experts at AZ Acres Incorporated teach fledgling steed bestriders the horseback riding essentials with a series of hands-on, once-weekly lessons. Classes are capped at four students to ensure individualized attention and an intimate learning environment. Two 30-minute basic lessons help students master the fundamentals of pony piloting. Pupils practice skills such as walking, trotting, and fox trotting, spending the whole lesson nestled in the proverbial saddle.
At HomeTown Fitness, guests of all fitness levels can pinch inches in a spacious gym, more than 20 exercise classes, or personal training sessions with knowledgeable staffers. Equipment including treadmills, elliptical machines, and free weights help clients build muscles on their own, while group spinning, kickboxing, and yoga classes can also be tailored to meet each individual's fitness goals. The upscale health club caters to different age groups as well. The nationally recognized SilverSneakers program targets senior citizens, and a Kid's Korner engages children 3 months to 11 years old with games, activites, and Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions led by trained babysitters.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.