The name itself is a fusion of two soul-feeding concepts: "Gaia," the Greek goddess of the earth, and "I am." This fusion is represented in Gaiam's logo, the Flower of Life, symbolizing the planet's connection with the people who call it home. Founded more than a quarter-century ago, Gaiam's goal is to provide students of wellness with everything they need to achieve mental and physical fulfillment, from premium yoga mats and fitness gear to eco-friendly workout clothing and inspirational DVDs. Of course, there's also a full range of casual clothing and sustainable home goods such as organic cotton bedding and towels. Gaiam also features a selection of fair-trade jewelry and décor for everyday green living.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Mechanized towers stand along the shoreline of Wake Nation Cincinnati's 10-acre lake, steering riders across the water as they grip cables rather than lines attached to boats. Cruising clockwise from the cables, up to seven people at a time can wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard, or waterskate around the aquatic arena at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Wake Nation designed the main lake for everyone from beginners to elite-level riders, and peppered it with manmade obstacles and floating jumps, allowing boarders to zip along and pull off tricks that sometimes aren’t possible behind a boat. They also have a smaller practice lake for beginners and young riders from 5 years old and up.
Experienced staff members observe boarders at all times, supplying safety tips, training, and navigational advice for circumventing Poseidon’s rose bushes. Visitors can bring their own equipment, or rent or buy necessary gear from Wake Nation’s pro shop. A cast of instructors lead lessons and observe riders during freestyle riding, fun summer camps, and special events such as birthday parties.
A distributor of children's playground and sports equipment, Recreations Outlet has been fortifying playtime with safely constructed fun fixtures since 1990. The outlet houses an expansive show room brandishing apparatuses that parents can purchase and install at home, such as monkey towers, and fenced-in Springfree trampolines that keep kids in and competitive kangaroos out. In addition to its regular shopping hours, Recreations Outlet invites little ones to come test out the fun factor of its wares during open-play sessions or hosted birthday parties.
At Cincinnati Diving Center, the certified instructors take the art of diving seriously—from beginner’s sessions to rescue-diver courses, all training programs incorporate both classroom and in-water sessions to ensure complete preparation for frolics in the sea or the neighbor’s aquarium. The center also sells scuba and snorkeling gear for successful swims and coordinates group trips to the ocean to free divers from the stresses of vacation planning.
As he cycled across the United States on a bike tour, Matthew Johnson made a decision: after his trip, he would open a bike shop, one that emphasized quality gear and education for beginners. In 1994, he and his friends Eric Krause and Mitch Graham did just that, and BioWheels was born. The team specializes in bikes custom-built to their client's specifications; they also customize stock bicycles with free stem swaps, which help ensure comfortable riding.