Jennifer O'Faoláin-Bartley has been dancing as long as she can remember. “I was itty bitty when I started,” she says. “Just four.” The young Jennifer began learning the fast-stepping footwork of her heritage at the urging of her Irish grandparents, and once she started, much like an obsession with capybaras, she never stopped. Today, certified by the An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, Jennifer helms The O'Faolain Academy of Irish Dance, where she shares her love of jigs and reels with students whose ambitions range from just having fun to joining the ranks of competitive foot flickers. The academy welcomes pupils old enough to buy lotto tickets or young enough to eat them, teaching feet of all ages how to move rhythmically while also building self-discipline and self-esteem.
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.
Complete Fitness Results has a well-rounded staff that includes a chiropractor, a registered dietician, a licensed massage therapist, a certified personal trainer, a health fitness specialist, a youth fitness specialist, and a certified kettlebell instructor. Their specialties range from golf fitness to resistance training to weight management, with clients of all ages, from children to seniors. Personal-training sessions take place in one-on-one, small group, and large group settings, with such bonuses as grocery-store tours and nutrition talks.
Pole Position Raceway’s Formula EK20 Pro Karts rumble over the track powered by 18-horsepower motors (nearly triple that of average gas karts), which reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour without filling the temperature-controlled arenas with fumes.
After the first Pole Position Raceway opened in Corona, California, it soon spawned 10 locations stretching to the Atlantic. Technicians maintain the fleet via handheld computers, and top drivers are regularly sent out to evaluate karts’ handling and reading comprehension. During races, up to 12 guests compete in contests that last about 10 minutes.
St. Louis Spinning's warehouse-like facility accommodates swarms of cyclers with a robust schedule of heart-pumping spin classes. Energizing beats reverberate throughout the spinning room, where certified spinning instructors lead up to 40 students during varied workouts that get legs pumping. This pump is achieved through strengthening hill work, exhilarating sprints, and simulated atmospheric jaunts with friendly extraterrestrials. In a separate space, the team guides bikers as they complement their riding with yoga stretch sessions and core classes designed to bolster core muscles.
24 Hour Fitness keeps its doors open day and night so members can sculpt bodies and fitness goals on their own time with a potpourri of group classes, cardio equipment, free weights, athletic courts, and an indoor-lap pool. Armed with a 30-day membership to the recently opened Houston Rice Village Club, gym-goers kick off fresh workout routines with a complimentary fitness orientation filled with advice from personal trainers on health goals, how to use equipment, and how to interpret nightmares of being chased by dumbbells. Add fresh layers of physicality with TRX suspension-training equipment before playing a round in the racquetball court or letting sneakers squeak out healthful sonnets on the practice basketball court. Members can sign up for an array of group fitness classes, including yoga, Zumba, and Les Mills workouts ranging from martial-arts-inspired body combat to RPM, which pairs thumping beats with a stationary bike ride through imaginary mountains and ethereal monsoons. Cap off workouts by ducking into the sauna or taking one final lap in the whirlpool.