At Bumbershoot Aerial Arts, instructors guide students through a wide array of suspended workouts, from strengthening trapeze-and-silks classes to ones where pupils use hoops, ropes, or even chains to lift them off the ground. After -spending hours exercising in midair, students can train to be on the next mission to outer space, or stay in this atmosphere and gain the upper-body strength required to be a successful aerial artist.
On a normal day at Climb So iLL, climbers scale a giant eyeball, a purple elephant, and a giant tulip reaching toward the sky. These structures, inspired by Lewis Carroll and created by an architectural firm, reflect the gym’s unique aesthetic and a whimsical vision. The walls range in color from slate gray to bright purple, and accent lighting adds to snaking mezzanine levels and a well-stocked pro shop. The gym's modern design, which includes countertops and shop displays crafted from bamboo and recycled car hoods, blends into the original brick interior of the old power plant—from which designers salvaged steel and other debris to fashion the interior.
On each guest's first visit, a staff member escorts them around the facility to get them acquainted with safety protocol. Climbers scale 40 top ropes hung down from walls reaching up to 55 feet, along with smooth angles and overhangs across varied bouldering terrain. In a members-only 24-hour training zone open to all climbers during the day, they can practice navigating small overhangs and other problems. On-site personal trainers and instructors also help hone skill and movement techniques through basic belaying and lead climbing classes. An accredited route-setting team regularly tampers with the gym's routes to keep climbers alert and extra gecko-like. An advanced ventilation system circulates and cools the air by maintaining a constant indoor pressure, and tall windows and skylights keep vertical pathways well-lit.
The crowd's roar flooded the streets of Chicago as Darcy Zenker crossed the finish line of her first marathon, clocking in at 3:35. After she had been running for years—placing among the top finishers at four half-marathons and competing on the Southern Illinois University track team—she decided she needed a break. She then immersed herself in a new athletic pursuit—group fitness instruction.
Three years later, she became the head trainer of her own boot-camp fitness program, NowFitness, where her years of athletic training and certification in fitness instruction shine through in her workouts. In parks throughout the local area, she and her staff of fellow trainers lead groups through high-intensity workouts that take advantage of their surroundings. She motivates patrons to scale stairs, do crunches on benches, and hoist planks across grassy fields. The trainers also offer a stroller-based boot camp for moms, in which participants blast through cardio and strength-training exercises that incorporate their stroller with baby or a watermelon they've dressed up to look like a baby in tow. In addition to hosting classes, NowFitness pairs patrons with certified lifestyle and weight-management coach Amanda Bickel for a comprehensive five-week nutrition program.
Covering everything from algebra to physics, the lessons taught on Virtual Nerd include all the dressings of a real-world classroom—teachers, whiteboards, note-taking devices—plus the distinct advantage of pause-and-play learning. The site boasts many useful tools, including the Dynamic Whiteboard, which keeps a running list of notes that students can use to review or to dive even deeper into the subject at hand. Students can also examine symbols and formulas as lessons progress. Virtual Nerd offers two distinct types of learning: month-long instruction and online boot camps. The former includes tutorials and study materials that supplement traditional classroom learning. The latter is intended to present students with a grab bag of study materials, including a customized list of tutorials, practice problems, and quizzes. Regardless of subject matter, all lessons support Virtual Nerd’s mission to provide convenient, interactive learning for a fraction of the cost of hiring a tutor or kidnapping a Teletubby.
Capturing True Emotion is driven by a dynamic band of instructors who rove across the continent with cameras and teaching skills in hand. By fusing their narrative, tech-savvy minds together into one oversize head, the educators provide comprehensive guidance on both camera operation and creative visualization, giving participants complete control over all of their camera settings. During the hours spent in the company of other pupating shutterbugs, students convene at a tantalizing location to practice skills such as controlling depth of field by adjusting the aperture, composing a family portrait so there's not always a burning zeppelin in the background, using alternative angles to avoid red eye, and other techniques.
When camped out at a picturesque St. Louis spot—from an old barn to the iconic Arch—Brian K. Owens sees more than just the opportunity to take a pretty picture. The fine-art photographer and owner of STLPhotoArt grasps for stories in each of his photos, stories that he seeks to bring to his clients through commercial shoots and instill in his students during photography classes. The shutterbug guides beginning shooters through Forest Park and the St. Louis Zoo, dispensing photography know-how along the way. Owens also lends his talented eye to elegantly capture moments at weddings, engagements, and knight-christening ceremonies.