In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
As a child, Kyle Mathis would try to play anything even remotely resembling a guitar—that is, until he was 10 years old. That year, his financially struggling parents bought him his first guitar, a black acoustic Harmony. He spent much of the following decade honing his skills on the fretboard. After his band won a fateful competition, he launched into the national touring circuit. Today, when he isn't busy touring as the guitarist of Parabelle, he straps on his guitar and passes on his knowledge to other budding musicians.
With gauged ears and tattooed arms, Kyle's look might skew more towards rock star than down-to-earth music teacher—yet he is accommodating, holding in customer's homes as well as his professional studio. During each one-hour class, he teaches students all the basics of guitar artistry that they must learn before they can shred, from basic chords and finger placement to the basic mid-solo kickflip.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning Center’s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chests. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids feel more comfortable in the classroom. After-school or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or wow college admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Equipment: State-of-the-art sprung floors, mirrors, and barres
Average class length: 60 minutes
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Pro Tip: Want the look of a dancer but never owned ballet shoes? Miss ballet? Then DREAM Barre is for you.
"D.R.E.A.M." stands for dance, recreation and fitness, education, arts, and mentoring, and the Family D.R.E.A.M. Center stands for all that plus community and Biblical teachings. Dance, music, and fine art classes provide space for every member of the household to learn, grow, and connect. Instructors draw on the Bible in character-building classes that teach subjects such as phone manners, transportation etiquette, and which fork to fling first at a food fight. Carrying off this ambitious scope is a "D.R.E.A.M. team" of instructors who are all degreed, working professionals in their respective fields, from graphic design to dance to speech therapy.
With 30 years of music-arrangement experience, Kevin Bigham expertly guides fingertips across piano keys during lessons held in studio, at students' homes, and even online via Skype video chat. Bigham welcomes students of all ages and skill levels, encouraging them to remain enthusiastic regardless of whether or not they’ve played in the past or showed up to the lesson wondering where the piano’s mouthpiece is. When he's not sharing skills with pupils, Bigham can often be found adding live soundtracks to weddings and events. He also blends his twin passions of music and spirituality by playing piano during faith-based events.