Kris Larrison has been teaching fitness classes for more than 20 years, in addition to being an avid runner. "After years of running, and running competitively, your body starts breaking down a little bit," she says. "Yoga was good for me to get into."
And though there were only a few yoga studios in the area, there wasn't a single hot-yoga studio around—so she opened the first. Classes started out in the basement of a building, and often there were only one or two people. Kris didn't mind; she was doing it for fun. But, as she says, "word got out" and the business grew. As classes swelled to 30 people packed into the small space, she decided to open a larger storefront studio.
Today, she has a crew of certified instructors who lead classes in the hot-yoga studio, which runs from 95 to 104 degrees. Why the heat? In addition to increasing flexibility, helping detoxify the body through sweat, and helping home-brought dragon eggs to hatch, heat increases yoga's cardiovascular benefits. "You get that oxygen into the blood a lot better with the heat," Kris says. In addition to hot yoga, Kris has a studio dedicated to hot barre classes. Using a ballet barre to help everyone go higher and lower, classes do motions such as lunges and squats. The heat, she says, "kicks it up a little bit."
For Kris, the most rewarding thing has been seeing her studio foster relationships; because it's more of a boutique studio, rather than a large health club, people get to know one another. "It's very rewarding to see people come in after a year or so of practicing, and see how much they've accomplished, and how much stronger they are," she says.
Quilting entrepreneur Liz Porter’s passion for stitching earned her an internationally distributed magazine and a PBS television series. She continues to introduce newcomers to the joys of quilting with her online course on quilt binding as one of QuiltClassroom.com’s many seasoned instructors dedicated to empowering budding quilters. Other instructors include Mary and Marianne Fons, who walk students through the basics of quilt making, and Tony Jacobson who teaches students to piece together a queen-size wedge quilt. In addition to online instruction, classes grant students access to helpful downloads such as printable patterns, guides, and tips for tucking in overnight guests.
Bringing wine to school is typically frowned upon, but the team at Dale Valley Vineyard turned the rebellious act on its head: They brought a 19th-century schoolhouse to their vineyard. Nowadays, it serves as the tasting room for the vineyard that Cityview readers named the Best Local Iowa Day Trip for two years in a row. In the schoolhouse's single room, visitors sample award-winning wines such as White Schoolhouse—a catawba with citrus notes and an evocative chalkboard minerality—and V’s Berry, whose cherry and apple flavors commingle with raspberry and vanilla aromas. Live music entertains visitors most Saturdays from May through September, and the winery’s annual festival, dubbed Winestock, commences in July.
Anytime Fitness is a busy, popular fitness chain that works to remove common obstacles to working out. At any one of the 21 locations this Groupon is valid for, clients have 24/7 access to the gym’s cardio and strength-training equipment, and some locations offer group fitness classes, such as Zumba and small group training. Certified personal trainers are available to help those looking to take their workouts to the next level, and members can finish their exercise routines with a stop off at the onsite tanning booth to add a summery glow to muscles.
Plush leather couches and chairs placed amid comforting earth tones characterize the lodge-like environment at Signature Male, a spa designed for men of all ages. Complimentary servings of beer and wine flow into glasses as men enjoy barbershop services from experienced stylists and massages from skilled therapists. In teaming up with Dr. Robert Reese, a physician certified by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, the staff uses various treatments to help clients combat hair loss.
Former college athletes Melissa Grandon and Ryan Arguello founded Max Life Fitness & Nutrition to shape up bodies with vigorous workouts and practical nutritional advice. Each boot camp fuses moves from strength training, yoga, kickboxing, kettlebells, and plyometrics in a union as healthy as a marriage between a ThighMaster and a rice cake. Pairing inner health with outer brawn, Max Life consults clients on sound dietary choices through supermarket tours that lead shoppers to the most succulent fruits and the carrots with the least sour expressions on their faces, as well as nutrition workshops, healthy-dish potlucks, and unlimited one-on-one counseling. Classes take place Monday through Friday at 5:15 a.m., 6:15 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 6:15 p.m.