As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Marty Spears has been splashing canvases with vibrant watercolors for more than 20 years and now hosts Wine & Watercolor classes for aspiring visionaries and casually tipsy art fans alike. Small class sizes of no more than 16 painters allow for a personal experience with the adroit artist and fellow pigment-slingers. The master masterpiece-maker provides all supplies for the course, including the reference drawing, watercolors, paintbrushes, and a surrealist palette that morphs into farm animals when viewed from different angles. Paint through a step-by-step tutelage on the process of creating a watercolor magnum opus while sipping on a favorite bottle of liquid grapes. Marty recommends toting along a spouse or good friend to enjoy the artful evening at its maximum capacity. The three-hour course leaves painting pupils with a handmade creation to take home and a desire to recreate the Mona Lisa on the new shower curtain.
At Pottery Hollow, kids and adults alike find inspiration to create ceramic works of art from a fanciful story about a potter in need of an apprentice to help him and his fairy friends adorn ceramic mugs, platters, and knickknacks with colorful paint. Guests enter the potter's enchanted hollow—complete with twisted tree trunks and brightly colored chairs—to work on the unpainted pieces stored deep beneath the forest. While guests create their masterpieces, staffers keep them supplied with paints and brushes and take finished pieces to be baked in the kiln.
In addition to walk-in sessions, Pottery Hollow's three locations host parties and events such as mommy-and-me sessions, bridal showers, and corporate events. And on Friday nights until 9 p.m., ladies can create beautiful works of art while sipping on their favorite BYOB drinks. Staffers also craft custom pieces in one to two weeks, which can be given as gifts, kept as future heirlooms, or offered as sacrifices to the home-decor gods.
When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad—including Jesse Finney himself—all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
During her extensive dance training, K.I.S.S. Fitness Studio owner Kem Smith grooved alongside Zumba and pole fitness pioneers, mastering the steps that she now showcases for her own students. Offering simultaneous classes in three different studios, her staff covers everything from entrancing pole spins and belly dancing to gospel yoga, and strength training in the studio's rhythmic curriculum. Recently added amenities include spa services, such as eyebrow threading and lash extensions, as well as a café area. The studio also hosts private parties that impart empowering moves and help attendees break in high heels without resorting to foxy kickboxing.
Before airplanes or helicopters, there were trapeze artists. Defying gravity for a chance at aerial artistry, they quickly became the stars of circuses and traveling shows the world over. At Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center – Union Station, trapeze artists of today carry on this graceful discipline with the next generation of high-flying performers. Seasoned instructors—led by St. Louis native and triple somersault expert Matt Viverito—lead classes designed for all ages and skill levels, from curious adults to kids looking to be the next great circus stars. The only trapeze school in St. Louis recently celebrated the opening of a new facility; there, a state-of-the-art rig complete with brand-new equipment keeps students safe as they pursue jumps 25 feet off the ground.