Custom Workouts might feel a bit smaller than your average chain gym—that's part of its appeal. The private setting allows gym-goers to work out on top-notch equipment without feeling intimated or overwhelmed. Staying true to its commitment to the individual, the gym also offers personal training with a reasonable price tag. But those who crave the motivation of peers can opt for group classes such as Zumba and spinning.
In 1973, when Ramona Clayton was 19, she moved to Germany where she earned a PhD in molecular biology and worked with sterile medicines. But she also began making pottery—a hobby that would become her profession when she moved back to the United States in 2004. Rather than going through the licensing hassle necessary to work as a microbiologist in the States, she opened terramonary stoneware & porcelain, where, in addition to making stoneware and porcelain pieces to sell, she teaches others her craft. The studio's name—and Ramona's reason for returning to California—comes from her husband, Terry. Starting out as high-school sweethearts, they lost touch not long after graduation. After 22 years apart, Terry found her on the Internet, called her, and asked if she remembered him. She did. "He signed his love letters with 'Terramonary,' which is just an anagram of 'Terry' and 'Ramona'," she recalls. To Terry's delight, she thought it would be a catchy name for the business and even used her science know-how to break down the parts of the word into Latin and alchemic roots that symbolize the four elements. Ramona fires her long-lasting pieces in the kiln outside her studio, which sits on a concrete porch where she and her students also glaze their pieces. Inside, the wheels and workstations are in a separate area from her showroom, which brims with decorative pieces as well as plates, cups, and serving pieces that are safe for ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and time machines. "My goal in life is to make pretty things useful—or useful things pretty," she says. "If it's too delicate or it's just decorative, people are afraid of it."
Anytime Fitness, which boasts 2,300 clubs worldwide, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fit seekers challenge themselves on cardio and strength machines by brands such as Precor and Life Fitness and hoist free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or bop into one of the onsite tanning booths.
Though Ardy Conway and her staff of certified trainers at Ardy's Pilates Studio work primarily with three apparatus—the Reformer, the Cadillac, and the chair—they are well equipped to weave more than 500 Pilates exercises into their custom workouts. Ardy draws on more than 20 years of experience as she and her team tailor private and semiprivate sessions to individual goals, such as relieving joint pain or improving at golf. The instructors also host group Reformer classes, which max out at six students to keep classes personal and allow competitive sextuplets to remain at the same fitness level.
Walnut Pier Health Club's cardio and strength equipment is utilized throughout 15 courses that get bodies moving. The accommodating daily schedule begins at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays, making it the ideal choice for fishermen who prefer to cast their hooks in outdoor heated pools that host aquatics classes. Stationary bike wheels rotate clients into healthy leg orbits during the Cycle classes; Zumba pumps Latin-inspired beats to inspire soaring heart rates; and myriad other aerobic classes usher members into the robust, perspirational world of fitness. In the on-site sauna, tuckered muscles recover and rest after vigorous workouts, energetic classes, and flexing for giggling courtesans.
Louise's Kitchen Table came about by accident. Louise saw cooking comforting meals and house-baked desserts as simply a way to bring her friends together, but her aspirations stopped there. Over time, her friends began to rave about her cooking to their other friends, and soon Louise had strangers requesting catering services for business events and dinners. When she was unexpectedly laid off from her corporate job, she gained the courage to delve into the world of professional cooking. Today, Chef Louise lends her culinary expertise to personal-chef services, event catering, and food delivery for new mothers. When beckoned to cater an event, Louise handles the shopping, prep, cooking, and cleanup. Personal-chef services can cater to families with choosy eaters or special dietary needs, and meal delivery for new moms helps them settle into motherhood without having to prepare balanced meals for the whole family and any lingering storks.