Best Of Indy 2021: Health And Beauty

Adult Foam Pit

There’s plenty to do at Pendleton’s new Community Sports & Wellness (395 S. Heritage Way, Pendleton, 765-744-1606)—tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; a cycle studio; a weight-training area. But if you really want to have some fun while you get fit, take the plunge into one of the brightly colored foam block pits in the gymnastics and ninja course area. Surrounded by trampolines from every angle, these pits serve to keep gymnasts safe, but are just begging you to come play. Host a party there for two hours of open gym time for $250.

People rock climbing New Climbing Gym

A stone’s throw from the Windsor Park neighborhood, North Mass Boulder (1411 Roosevelt Ave., 317-953-6667, recently introduced the area to a kind of rock climbing called bouldering. With no ropes or harnesses, patrons use little more than chalk and special shoes to work their way up and around outcroppings. And the state-of-the-art facility isn’t just a climbing destination. It also features a fitness studio offering a variety of group classes from yoga to meditation to Capoeira. Finish strong upstairs at the Top Out Café, serving fresh juice, healthy meals, and local beer on tap.

Personal Trainers

You don’t have to be a Colts player or a top influencer to work out at FiT Flex Fly (16707 Southpark Dr., Westfield, 317-218-3928), but you might see those hard bodies in the new Westfield location, a larger and sunnier sister to the popular F3 studio in Nora. Whether you can muscle onto owner Mark Morgan’s schedule or sign up with one of the staff trainers, you’ll get a targeted workout using equipment you can’t find just anywhere and some nice post-exercise recovery, perhaps with a therapeutic massage gun. The F3 magic is that the trainers know how to make you work without hating it. Rates start at $33 for a half-hour, semi-private session.

Wellness App

Katara McCarty is a personal development coach who, like many of her fellow entrepreneurs, saw her business screech to a halt during the pandemic. In addition to her personal stress, she noticed how disproportionately COVID-19 was impacting the Black community, which was also bearing the collective stress of witnessing the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. “I went to reach for the apps I usually use to meditate with,” says McCarty, “and realized that they were completely out of touch with where my community was.” McCarty decided to create Exhale, an app specifically for women of color. On it, there are meditations, affirmations, and breathing exercises, all recorded by McCarty and her daughters. In less than a year, the app has been used in more than 55 countries.

Indoor Pickleball

When the pickleball craze moves indoors for the winter, it’s hard to find a good court. The options are off-peak hours at a racquet club or a makeshift setup in a gymnasium. Die-hard players turn to Hideout Pickleball (5550 Progress Rd.), a single indoor court in an industrial building by the old airport. Built by a few local competitive players, the space is bare bones but has the most important qualities—a pro-grade permanent court, great lighting, climate control, and 24/7 access for late-night battles or a session with the provided ball machine when you can’t sleep. Rates are competitive, too—$44 for two hours during peak evenings and weekend times, and $28 all other times, usually split two or four ways. The standard membership is free, although for $20 per year, VIP members can reserve more than a week in advance. Either way, you get the most important feature: the door code.

New Sport

The hardest part of fowling is pronouncing it—the game rhymes with bowling because it involves knocking down 10 pins with a football in a cornhole-style setup. Friends from Michigan invented the game in the Indianapolis 500 infield years ago, made it a business, and finally brought the mashup back to its roots. At The Fowling Warehouse (1125 E. Brookside Ave., 317-406-0326), first-come, first-serve play for a group is just $10 for unlimited action. Anyone who scores a “bonk,” which is hitting only the middle pin of a full rack, gets to blow a horn that’s as loud as a racecar. If you’re that good, join a league.

Beauty Fillers

Want a flip lip, a perfect pout, or perky cheeks? Crissy Wiseman, a nurse practitioner with a specialty in aesthetics, has been in the business for more than 22 years. She and her husband, Justin, partnered with The Beauty Lounge (2325 Pointe Pkwy., Carmel, 317-569-6448) and have been increasing the med-spa services there throughout 2021. Wiseman can perform any number of procedures, but she does a lot of lip plumping and undereye treatments. She’s also especially practiced in the new PDO threads, an alternative to a facelift. Other than safety, Wiseman’s hallmark is going slow—patients are often surprised at how much face time they receive.

Statement Jewelry

Sara Biniecki loves Scandinavian, minimalist design, and it shows in the jewelry she makes. The rings, wrist cuffs, necklaces, and earrings she crafts in her studio at the Harrison Center are bold but not fussy. Natural materials that reflect her love of the outdoors inspire her, and many of her designs are large stones in simple, brushed-silver settings. Malachite, jasper, and fossils (sand dollars, crinoids, and orthoceras) are among her favorite materials. Much of the work in the beginning of her career was custom designing pieces for clients, but she recently shifted to doing seasonal releases around certain stones and themes, with entire collections selling out in one day.

Body Scrubs

Understanding individual skin needs is a specialty at Be Bella Co. (309 W. 42nd St.), a home-spa shop in Butler-Tarkington. When owner Andrea Brown began making feminine washes in 2016 out of frustration with what was on the market, her friends kept asking her to make more products, so she did. Brown’s latest addition to Be Bella’s all-natural collection are small-batch body scrubs. Her Amber Goddess scrub’s subtly sweet scent brings to mind another local self-care line with amber in its name, at a much more affordable price.

Bronze tibetan singing bowl, sound healing
Bronze tibetan singing bowl with wooden stick, palo santo wood. Sound healing, sound bath therapy

Sound Bath

If good sleep eludes you, a sound bath could be the resting hack your body needs. When you attend one conducted by Sarah Gardner (—who leads them at North Mass Boulder and elsewhere—you get comfortable in a dark room while immersed in vibrations from the quartz singing bowls she plays with suede mallets. The sensory experience triggers the body’s relaxation response, producing a brainwave state that mimics REM sleep. “It’s not all woo-woo,” says Gardner. “There are very real physiological responses happening in the brain and body.”

Grooming Line

Goldie started in Brandon Burdine’s kitchen as he mixed and whisked away in an attempt to create healthy products for his clients’ short hairstyles. Burdine, the barber who started Brick & Mortar, disliked traditional hair care products and envisioned a line that did away with the usual drugstore ingredients. Key components in his formulations include natural clays and shea butter, which moisturize the hair and scalp naturally. You can’t find Burdine at Brick & Mortar anymore, but his products are sold nearby at Commissary Barber & Barista.

Lash Extensions

This year, Indiana’s Board of Cosmetology allowed unlicensed aestheticians to provide lash extensions, so you’ll start seeing more and cheaper choices—until you get a bad treatment, and then you won’t be able to see anything. Abra Land, a licensed, experienced independent specialist who works out of Ageless Aesthetics (8860 Zionsville Rd., 317-855-9100, and Bronzz Beauty Studio (100 N. Madison Ave., 317-538-1890), prioritizes eyelash health (yes, that’s a thing) to make sure your eyes will still close once they’re gorgeous, and that the type of glue and lashes are compatible with your natural fringe, so you won’t lose any or have redness and irritation. Supply-chain issues aside, she prefers to use lashes from Australia and Europe, which she says are ahead of the game right now. And if you want novelty glitter lashes for a concert or pink extensions for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you definitely want to make sure you’re in the best hands.

Hair Pins

The upside of not being able to get a haircut during COVID shutdowns was that some of us were able to grow out those bangs we’ve been wearing since school picture day in kindergarten. But what to do with your long locks now? Enter Rana Salame, the artist behind Salame Jewelry Designs, maker of gemstone jewelry suited for all moods—from busy moms running weekend errands to designers looking for the perfect crystal crown for a fantasy wedding photo shoot. Her agate quartz hairpins are the perfect functional accessories for folks who want to look a little more polished, even if “getting ready” in a post-pandemic world has evolved from full makeup and wardrobe to topknot and fancy sweatshirt.

Stretching Studio

No matter where the COVID-19 numbers stand, your hamstrings might still think it’s the thick of the pandemic after being subjected to an ergonomically horrific office setup at home. Stretch Zone (two area locations), a franchise co-owned by NFL and Purdue legend Drew Brees, couldn’t have arrived soon enough. The 12-week program, starting at $200 per month, is like personal training, except just stretching. You’re belted to a table while a trained practitioner moves your limbs in ways you can’t by yourself. Your only jobs are to breathe; say when the stretch has reached a light, medium, and deep stage; and to become as noodley as possible. For achy folks, this is better than a day spa.

Sex Toys

Onatah General (1058 Virginia Ave.) may be best known for its selection of modern, sustainable beauty and lifestyle goods, but the Fountain Square shop has added vibrators to its collection of soaps and clothing. Owner Jessie Eskew feels that although the topic of sexual health remains taboo, sex positivity is part of what keeps us healthy, so she proudly stocks best-sellers like Arc and Eva II by Dame Products. There’s no reason to blush.

nailsNail Art Innovation

If having a cartoon version of our beloved dog handpainted on our gel manicure is wrong, we don’t want to be right. Lindsay Wainscott—a design major, longtime beauty industry insider, and founder of Nails by NEAT—already had a reputation for doing some of the most intricate nail art in town. To scroll through her Instagram page is to constantly ask yourself, How on earth does she do that? Rainbows. Pop art. Disney princesses. And then you stumble upon the pets. Right there, on tiny little human fingernails, is a Dalmatian. A French bulldog. A cute little kitty cat. All of them are handpainted with fine-art brushes by Wainscott and her team, and the resemblances are uncanny. The first pet series was done at a pop-up event that filled up in minutes, but Wainscott says another may be on the way.