Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
With more than 15 locations nationwide, Wine and Canvas commissions accomplished artists to spread the joy of painting during informal painting classes. These talented brush wielders guide students of all abilities through a landscape, portrait, or abstract artwork via step-by-step instructions. Though each Wine and Canvas location is home to an art studio, the classes are taught in students’ living rooms or at local hot spots—many of which mix up tasty drink specials during classes. Instructors provide their artists-in-training with all the supplies they need to create eye-catching masterpieces, from paints and canvases to Ouija boards with a direct line to van Gogh. Though adult painting classes are Wine and Canvas’s bread and butter, they also help little ones unleash their creativity and satisfy their sweet tooth with Cookies and Canvas classes.
Snap Fitness's easyFIT monitor is a small, clip-on accelerometer that helps keep track of daily exercise. Unlike pedometers that merely measure steps and spy on daydreams, the easyFIT monitor senses the intensity and duration of physical activity, transmogrifying those stats into simple, numerical points that help assess activity levels from sedentary to peak performance. In addition to tracking exercise in real time, easyFIT monitors can connect to the wearer's personal web portal to upload data and create fitness graphs that help show progress, snag exercise suggestions, and stave off the temptation of living next to a hamburger farm. Watch a video about the easyFit here.
Signature service: Fundamentals of Drawing
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 1?2 hours
Brands Used: Young Rembrandts
Pro Tip: Young Rembrandts teaches drawing and visual learning skills for children ages 3-and-a-half to 12.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
The aesthetic champions at My Little Red Haus put the power of paint, canvas, and crafts into tiny, eager hands, earning recognition as The Best Place for Kids by Montgomery's Downtown District for the last two years. Children’s mixed-media courses welcome youngsters to learn and practice using a variety of materials and skills. Diminutive Da Vincis and atomic Andy Warhols will draw, paint, and glue a mixed-media creation to beautify fridges, bedrooms, and adorable interrogation rooms. Younger mini-artists (ages 4–6) begin with the basics, polishing motor skills and exploring crafty knowledge of color, line, textures, and shapes, from the familiar circle to the tricky five-pointed triangle. Older kids (ages 7–12) get pointers on their budding artistic skills.