Motivating, highly trained staff and spacious facilities complement Charter Fitness's battalion of cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Huge flat-screen TVs motivate gym-goers as they lift weights, stationary bikes, and their reflections in large mirrors. Seasoned personal trainers who all hold certifications or four-year degrees in their specialty guide members through an initial personal-training session, introducing clients to the best equipment for their fitness goals. After workouts, private showers or public water fountains sluice away sweat.
River Heights Golf Course amalgamates traditional and links-style holes for a challenging, varied game enhanced by the Kishwaukee River’s scenic backdrop. Players hop into a cart and dart across the par 72 course, encountering shallow greens, long pars, water hazards, and river bridges built by visit-hungry grandmothers. Many holes are hugged by curvaceous river waters, lending cool breezes to the shady course. Players must take into account the strength of the wind, perilous bunker positions, and unsolicited advice from overeager golf clubs in order to deliver balls to their destination. After matches, golfers can relax at the clubhouse, whose wraparound porch and full bar beckon to players with promises of relaxation and refreshment.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts more than 1,800 clubs in North America, 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 fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip 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 hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
Marengo Ridge's congenial director of instruction and the coach of more than 3,000 lessons, Greg Baresel prioritizes fun as well as golf fundamentals to develop consistent, powerful swings. Baresel's relaxed coaching style and custom improvement plans have helped to banish embarrassing bogies from the games and noses of beginner and professional athletes. After fleshing out goals, bodies and minds focus on the three graces of golf—grip, stance, and alignment—to lay a foundation for future par chasing. Finely tuned positions promote coordination and sidestep swing flaws, and budding kinesthesia fosters insight into correcting errant club paths or safely picking up bindles. Hone a newly acquired swing on the course's driving range ($5 for 50 balls; not included in this Groupon) or indoors in the event of weather.
Breezes drift east off the Fox River and through the tree lines of Pottawatomie Golf Course, a spectacular layout recognized by Golf World as the No. 15 nine-hole course in America in 2010. The course traces its roots back to 1939, when legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. capitalized on the area's natural splendor to design a course that originally charged golfers a quarter to play and was best conquered by clubs made from stale baguettes.
Recently, the par 35 course has been the subject of a vigorous renovation, including efforts to reshape greens and preserve native habitats for the deer, foxes, and egrets that populate the grounds. These conservation efforts were rewarded in 1997, when Pottawatomie Golf Course became the first nine-hole course recognized as a fully certified sanctuary by Audubon International.
The course's picturesque conditions are on full display at the par-four third hole, where a curving fairway vanishes into the river and golfers must launch approach shots onto a water-surrounded green. After a day of fore-hollering fun, golfers can peruse the pro shop for the latest gear and clubs to replace irons that ran away to chase dreams of one day growing into a cell-phone tower.
Course at a Glance: