Music Education Centers of America’s melody makers spark musical discovery in students of all ages and experience levels with lessons in vocals, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, brass, woodwinds, and string instruments. Whether students are forming a rock band or composing a series of jingles for the local blacksmith, they can hone their talents under the guidance of established performers and educators. The center offers private lessons six days a week, tailoring times to customers’ schedules. Teachers help burgeoning musicians select instructional books to purchase, while seasoned artists may bring their own material and lists of potential stage aliases. In addition to lessons, MECA houses a full-service music store, stocking print music, accessories, guitars, and stray quarter notes seeking adoptive homes. Upright pianos, grands, Yamaha digital pianos and keyboards, and Lowrey organs are also available to be specially ordered. MECA also provides a variety of on-site rentals. The centers’ Fun Over 50 program offers lessons to seniors, offering grandparents an opportunity to develop their musical talents and bond with grandchildren by rapping over complex barbershop harmonies.
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.
Several times a day, students flock to the 105-degree studio of Bikram Hot Yoga in St. Charles and Palatine, striking confident poses under the direction of experienced instructors. Each 90-minute class helps students find inner peace and outer health as they sweat out toxins, lengthen muscles, and find respite from packs of predatory hockey players. The studio welcomes students of all abilities, as the balmy heat helps even the tightest of tendons sink into Bikram’s 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
The shutterbug instructors at Shoot Like A Pro cement photographic know-how into their clients’ craniums through technical lessons and onsite practice. During workshops and excursions, students first learn to manipulate their own cameras, picking up tips about ISO, f-stop, shutter speed and composition before testing their skills during two hours of shooting time. Shoot Like A Pro’s events lend themselves to all types of digital cameras as well as to beginner photographers and more experienced students looking to refresh their skills.
Atmosphere is an essential part of fine dining. Crowds frequent five-star restaurants not only for their food, but also for the mood created by their décor. That's why in-home chef service Cooks For Your Kitchen brings a posh atmosphere to their patrons' homes in addition to their cooking utensils and groceries. Linens, china, silverware, and stemware decorate tabletops, where candles flicker and fresh flowers waft fragrances that please loved ones or pet bumblebees. Four-course dinners revolve around entrees such as chicken lemonata or lobster in creamy champagne sauce, and finish with rich desserts such as crème brûlée or tiramisu. All aspects of each meal are made fresh on the spot and can be altered to accommodate vegetarian diets or food allergies. Alternatively, chefs can entertain groups with a dinner party, cooking lessons, and movie nights, where chefs show up to homes with a DVD and movie-night snacks, such as flatbread pizzas and root-beer floats.
tri-city Fitness keeps locals in shape with a 15,000-square-foot facility named one of the Best Places for a Workout in 2011 by Suburban Life Publications. In addition to weight machines and group classes, the facility houses The Spa at TCF, which invites guests to recline atop a plush treatment bed as an aesthetician uses Bioelements products in massages and facials. Sconces illuminate treatment rooms' gold accents, while the mani-pedi area hosts visitors settling into dark pedi thrones and white porcelain basins.
In the gym, the gray floor supports rows of cardio machines, free weights, and strength-training equipment from such brands as Striders and KrankCycle. More than 20 group fitness classes a week keep figures chiseled through Zumba, Pilates, and spin sessions, and personal training and nutrition programs teach healthy lifestyle habits to clients of any age. tri-city Fitness also boasts highly sanitized locker rooms equipped with digital lockers and showerheads that provide backing vocals when they detect a singing voice.