To help visitors navigate its staggering list of more than 200 international wines, Robust Wine Bar & Caf? implements the Robust Factor?a system that categorizes quaffs by aspects such as flavor profile strength, dryness or sweetness, and tannins. These bottles are then grouped into eight categories ranging from "bubbles" and "crisp" to "sweet," and yes, "robust." It's this attention to detail that's helped earn the European eatery accolades such as a Sauce Magazine Reader's Poll award for Favorite Wine Bar in 2012 and a pair of OpenTable Diner's Choice awards.
And yet Robust's owners realize that wine, much like an actor playing Spartacus, isn't always meant to stand alone. Each of the cafe's three St. Louis-area locations pairs its bottles with a spread of charcuterie and shareable plates. Artisan cheeses from the Midwest and the Mediterranean are served alongside morsels of Spanish chorizo and dry-aged, salt-cured beef. Meanwhile, chefs craft internationally inspired bites such as house-cured salmon semi-crudo, herbed pork tenderloin, and shrimp and grits. On some nights, glasses clink and forks scrape plates in tune with live music performances?one of the many types of events hosted at the neighborhood retreat.
Even before he founded PowerFit Bootcamp, JR Spear always felt a calling to transform people into fitness machines. A fourth-degree black belt and studied martial artist, Spear spent years training future Marine Corps officers and Iraqi soldiers in self-defense and combat skills. Later, Spear taught his own MMA fitness and cardio-kickboxing classes, along with personal and group training sessions.
At PowerFit Bootcamp, he and his staff of fitness instructors encourage each student to persevere by leading motivational and high-energy classes. At 12 indoor and outdoor locations, students undergo full-body workouts designed to jettison fat and tone muscle. Trainers welcome students of all stripes, giving them a period of time to complete each move, rather than a number of repetitions, encouraging each student to do as much as he or she can without feeling uncomfortable, overexerting, or resorting to time travel. Along the way, coaches track progress and motivate students by noting benchmarks during physical fitness tests on the first Monday and Tuesday of each month.
In 1976, Joan Barnes?a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time?took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree?s founding, Joan?s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children?s? cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
The multitalented team of instructors, which includes trainers certified in Agatsu Kettlebell and Commando Krav Maga, helps to strengthen hearts, bodies, and minds during self-defense, fitness, and fight courses. Instructors lead beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of kettlebell fitness, a class that incorporates fundamental swings, cleans, snatches, and Turkish getups to simultaneously work several muscle groups at once.
The team also helps to build endurance by leading participants through Latin dance steps in Zumba and through a tapestry of kicks and punches in cardio kickboxing. Additionally, trainers helm courses in krav maga, a form of martial arts designed to increase confidence, protection, and Bruce Lee comparisons. Following a functional warm-up, instructors run through drills to teach students how to escape from chokes and disarm an opponent using lighting-quick pressure and weakness-point attacks.
A joint venture between a professional boxer and a team of successful kickboxing-equipment tycoons, Title Boxing Club maintains a network of dozens of studios spread across 19 different states, winning over a devoted clientele with its invigorating and engaging boxing- and kickboxing-themed classes. Each workout uses the heart-healthy exercise of cardio training to satisfy people?s innate desire to punch and kick something other than a broken jukebox. Participants build lithe, strong muscle tissue by delivering powerful blows to punching bags, and build flexibility and agility by practicing roundhouse kicks and hooks. Students can build their core strength and endurance with medicine balls and burpees, enlist a qualified personal trainer to practice their newfound skills in the ring, or just torch calories during intense full-body Power Hour workouts.
Reams of colorful modern and retro-print fabrics span the walls of Fabric Nosherie, framing examples of quilts, dolls, and clothing items crafted by shop owner Shannon and her dedicated sewing students. "The fabrics do all the work," Shannon points out, noting that each sewing-machine steward draws individual inspiration from the colorful patterns. Shannon's love of sewing and her expertise extend from the instruction she's received from her needle-wielding husband and the fine quilting techniques she gleaned from her mother-in-law. Within nine years, the seam charmer perfected her craft and currently teaches students how to sew pet beds, assemble quilts from treasured T-shirts, and perform emergency brain surgery on teddy bears.