As a young athlete, Adrienne Ramsey led a healthy lifestyle by competing on cheerleading and track teams. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in health education and a master's in healthcare administration. With this resumé, she could have easily landed a cushy desk job but instead took her passion for health to the streets by earning her massage license. Today, this member of the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals mends muscle tension with a roster of modalities. Beyond staples such as deep-tissue and Swedish massage, she also employs trigger-point therapy to unravel tense knots and reflexology to target pressure points in the feet, a practice said to ease pain in other areas of the body and ensure feet haven't been replaced with squeaky toys.
Costume Specialties launches adults and children into character with hundreds of costumes, wigs, makeup, and accessories. Youth guises ($15+) range from Dorothy’s signature white blouse and blue-checked pinafore ($29) to Darth Vader’s iconic black cape, helmet, and Hello Kitty lunchbox ($31). Adult getups ($40+) include the rose-hued velvet dress sported by Robin Hood's Maid Marion ($45.99) and the white jumpsuit and bulging, hairy chest of latter-day Elvis ($56). Wigs, such as the white curls of a Colonial man ($22), and accessories, including hairy werewolf gloves ($10), add realistic flair to outfits, and smearing a 16-ounce vial of arterial stage blood ($15.95) around the mouth helps increase a vampire costume's impact or intimidate squirrels that keep breaking into bird feeders.
AussieFIT models its gym environment after Australia's lively culture, right down to the adventurous attitudes of its staff. The two clubs welcome members—or "mates"—into their fitness fold with workouts that embrace a fun-centric philosophy. Vigorous fitness classes transport their routines from Australia to the studio floor, where instructors guide BodyPump's barbell lifts and BodyCombat's martial arts strikes as they play invigorating music. Regardless of prior gym experience, visitors can groove along to BodyJam's intuitive dance choreography before taking a cooldown jog or slow-motion sprint on one of the many cardio machines. The exercise floor also includes a full-body circuit deemed the Quickie workout—an intense, nine-station regimen. Certified personal trainers oversee private sessions for a more customized approach, and attentive employees watch over youngsters at the onsite Little Nippers Kids' Club.
Big things can grow from small beginnings. Just ask Zoe, the cartoon (and real) canine mascot of The Laptop Guy. The computer-repair shop began with a rented counter in a toy shop, where the company's founder and his dog sold laptops to passersby. His dedication to his customers and Zoe's playful nature brought in more and more customers, until the repair and sales shop could no longer fit next to the action-figure aisle. More than 10 years later, The Laptop Guy has grown into a three-store business that solves customers' smartphone, Apple, Android, and PC issues with online support, in-house repairs, or onsite troubleshooting. Cartoon Zoe and her owner still greet customers on the company's website, and the real-life versions can be found in one of the repair shops on any given day.
Divine De-lites owner Kim Herring didn’t set out to become full-time baker. “I was really more of a cook,” she says, “but then whenever we had family functions I always baked stuff.” But not just any "stuff"––breads and cookies that had family and friends raving. For nearly 10 years, others tried to convince her to turn her part-time passion into a career, and when the economic downturn led her to leave her job in the corporate arena, she decided to do exactly that.
To craft her treats, Herring employs family recipes––including one for a much-lauded banana bread––and formulations she developed herself using organic and local products whenever possible. Cookies are her No. 1 specialty, which she whips up in flavors such as oatmeal apricot, peanut butter, and almond butter with fig, and can be made gluten-free, sugar-free, or disguised as salads to suit a range of dietary concerns. But it’s her chocolate-chip cookies that are the real crowd pleaser. “They’re kinda crispy on the outside, but when you break ‘em open they’re real soft on the inside. And [there are] lots of chocolate chips.”
Physicians Weight Loss Centers peppers the nation, doling out slim-down tips honed during the course of three decades in business. Each center staffs a physician who, in tandem with a team of skilled counselors, selects one of six weight-loss and lifestyle programs to guide each client toward his or her desired results. The center’s sextet of plans are tailored to those who prefer not to exercise, those who travel often, those who cook at home, and those who cook in nonfunctional stage kitchens. Patients chat with their counselors often, soaking up the tips the staffers have learned from continual training programs. Clients are encouraged to build a bond with their counselor, as camaraderie not only eases the process but also improves one’s chances of finding a lifelong three-legged-race partner.