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.
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.
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.
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.
Inside Bikram Yoga Plainfield’s cozy studios, soaring temperatures allow students contorted in muscle-building postures to deepen their stretching and expel toxins through perspiration. Expert instructors lead students through a series of 26 postures, each building off the next to help them build flexibility, strength, and enough confidence to never again be intimidated by a pretzel. Parents can drop off mini-yogis for childcare five mornings a week before stretching out muscles on their own mat or one rented from the studio.
Katie O'Connor's churns out a medley of American pub grub alongside traditional Irish staples on a menu that harmonizes with beers and libations from the full bar. Pub wings by the pound weigh in with six flavors from savory roasted-chipotle-garlic to sweet mango-habañero ($6–$21.75). Flat-screen televisions mounted on exposed brick walls rev diners for sports games and a round of bangers and mash, a customary dish that beds pork sausage in a pillow of gravy-slathered mashed potatoes ($10.45). Sate further Irish inclinations without smooching the Blarney Stone by canoodling with a reuben boxty that nestles lean corned beef, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing inside a traditional irish potato pancake ($7.50). A new york cheesecake with or without strawberry sauce ($4.95) provokes post-dinner chatter about whether the dessert technically classifies as a pie, a cake, or a pizza.