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.
At Shrewsbury Lanes, 10 white appendages await punishment from careening spheres at the end of 24 polished alleys. Automatic scoring screens keep count at every lane so that rollers can concentrate on picking up seven-ten splits, savoring hot eats from the snack counter, and grabbing cold beers or daily happy hour cocktails from No Bul's Bar. During birthday packages, revelers can bounce between bowling alleys and party rooms, which are stocked with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Shrewsbury Lanes also hosts leagues for bowlers who enjoy more serious competition or nostalgic adults who were raised inside trophy cases. The roar of ransacked pins echoes throughout the facility until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Framed memorabilia, celebrity caricatures, and TVs line the walls at Weber's, a neighborhood pub that takes pride in its chow and sociable setting for taking in the game. Topping the expansive menu is the pork tenderloin ($8.99), made of tender-cut, juicy meat that's flame-broiled and lovingly basted in your choice of Cajun or Jamaican spice sauce. Spice up lackluster stickball championships with the hot, meaty chicken wings ($8.99 regular, $11.49 platter), or start your own stickball game with cheese-stuffed Bosco sticks ($6.99). Sandwich artists can build a burger (starting at $7.99) or nosh the Mardi Gras burger ($8.99), which bedecks a charbroiled ground chuck patty in shrimp sauce, Cajun spice, and a rhinestone jumpsuit. Your Groupon is also good for drinks; Weber's offers an array of beers on tap and by the bottle.
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.
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.