To weather his career as a master sergeant and a decorated Special Forces combat veteran, Shihan Randy McElwee needed a solid grasp on combat maneuvers. Nowadays, the retired McElwee teaches the pragmatic self-defense skills that got him through battle at his martial-arts studio, American Black Belt Academy. The school specializes in the official hand-to-hand combat system of the US military: Gracie Brazilian jujitsu. The system’s standing and ground moves harness leverage to take on larger opponents as well as help participants neutralize surprise attacks. For a broader focus, students can opt for an integrated martial-arts fitness workout, which combines jujitsu with muay thai kickboxing and Japanese shotokan karate. Regardless of their specificity, all of the studio’s classes enhance focus, self-confidence, and courage when the laundry room’s light goes out.
From spacious locker rooms to family-friendly facilities, BodyPlex gyms are built to take the stress out of working out. Fitness machines ranging from cardio equipment to free-motion systems beckon those familiar with the gym scene to jump right into a regime. Newcomers need not stress about a learning curve, as personal instructors power walk the grounds, ready to give one-on-one instruction with an appointment. To ease the workout worries of parents, enthusiastic staff members man the gym's onsite Kidsplex, a youth-focused playroom stocked with crafts, toys, and two different video-game systems. Additionally, those who achieve their best when with like-minded people can break a sweat and their personal fist-bump record in one of the gym's daily fitness classes.
Enduring attention spans are rendered unnecessary at Fun Galaxy, where the staff oversees ample entertainment options in one huge facility. While smaller kids and toddlers tackle a multi-level playground packed with soft obstacles, their older siblings take a turn at roller-skating or exploring the indoor skate. A mechanical bull and more than 30 arcade games round out the attractions, which are also available for birthday-party packages.
Dolphin Dive Center's experienced instructors guide potential divers though the process of earning their flippers with safety and expertise. Before hi-fiving mermaids or snapping shots of celebrity anemones, novice aquanauts tote their swimsuits and towels to the YWCO's heated pool where they will plunge into the fathomable depths under the supervision of a water-wise guide. Students are introduced to the basics of scuba, including the proper use of diving equipment and breathing techniques. The Discover Scuba lesson is available to anyone 10 years of age or older, and all scuba equipment is provided for the class. For customers that redeem today's deal, Dolphin Dive Center will take $35 off a full scuba-certification course (normally $395) if they sign up for the full certification within two months of the Discover class, finally bringing you access to continental shelf shuffleboard leagues.
A hush falls over the pews and all heads turn to see the bride step into the light as she glides down the aisle. The groom's face breaks into a huge grin, and guests can't help but smile themselves. For an instant, everyone in the room forgets that this couple is already married, and that no one in the room knows who they are. But, everyone agrees that the ceremony is beautiful. This is The NotWedding, a mock wedding in which on-trend wedding vendors display their talents to entice those planning their big day. Brides- and grooms-to-be are treated to an entire faux wedding, complete with ceremony, dinner, and dance reception. They spend dinner jotting down the names of the bakers who created the delectable wedding cake, the chefs who sizzled up the artfully plated meals, and the rental centers that provided the elegant table settings. Guests can also glean ideas for modern and hip decorations and wedding-planning advice, including tactful ways to tell their fiancée's father to retire his ruffled periwinkle tuxedo.
On a remote farm in northeast Georgia, hundreds of people are lining up to slog through mud and scamper over obstacles for 5 kilometers. Some may say they’re crazy, and some may say they’re being pursued by a pack of hungry toddlers, but they’d both be wrong—these brave hundreds are athletes dashing through the MuckRun obstacle course.
Meandering through forests, swamps, and creeks, the 5K MuckRun course tests runners with obstacles such as mud slides, hay-bale pyramids, and a human spider web. At the conclusion of the race, an awards ceremony bestows prizes upon the victors, and live tunes and food nourish the ears and mouths of each contestant. Just like at an all-company meeting, there's also a prize for the person with the best costume. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
The cast of Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” are a professionally reclusive bunch, brewing generations-old recipes in camouflaged stills beside their homes. Still, many beyond the hidden hills of Appalachia celebrate their traditions, and their product. The Moonshiner Festival gathers together some of the cast to meet their fans for three days of live music, barbecuing, camping, and, of course, drinking moonshine. Cast members in attendance include Mark Rogers and Jeff Waldroup, Lynn Waldroup and Lance Waldroup, and Mike Lewis and Bobby Tweedy. They dole out autographs and sit down to meals with the festival attendees, possibly even joining in to cut a rug to the musical stylings of the Smoking Guns or Hooch Holler.
As matriarch of the equestrian-loving McCarty family, Dixie McCarty invites visitors to Heart of Dixie Farms to share the fun of horseback riding through lessons and trail rides. When not teaching at the farm, she teaches agriculture at the middle-school level, and lends each of her lessons a considerate yet authoritative tone. Instruction covers riding disciplines ranging from Western and English pleasure to the basics of timed events, which might include barrel racing. Students can take their newly acquired skills from the 220'x90' sand arena to the farm’s network of shaded trails or nearby Watson Mill Bridge State Park.
Since 2009, Studio Dance Academy’s team of highly trained instructors has been leading students age 3 and up in ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, modern, lyrical, theatrical, hip-hop, and Irish dance classes. Now operating from a newly renovated space, the academy is committed to teaching proper technique to dancers of all abilities in a supportive and nurturing environment. In addition to keeping the local tutu industry afloat, seasonal dance recitals give students a chance to show off what they’ve learned in front of an audience.
Bikram Yoga Athens is a state-of the-art yoga studio, complete with a purified-air heating system and antimicrobial carpet. Classes, led by experienced Bikram instructors, guide students of all experience levels through 26 postures that take place in a room heated to 105 degrees, designed to detoxify systems and make muscles more pliable than Gumby losing a fight with a taffy puller. The studio rents or sells yoga mats and towels before class and houses changing rooms equipped with showers and bathrooms so that guests can cool down.
Iran-born Dante found his home in the American wilderness, exploring landscapes from the Hawaiian tropics to the Carolina mountains. He shares his love of the outdoors through Georgia Wine Kayaking, leading guests on seasonal tours of Georgia's rivers, including ones that take place during full moons, sunrises, and the winter solstice. In addition to immersing guests in the state's natural surroundings, Dante extols the physical benefits of kayaking and canoeing, such as toning muscle and relieving stress.
Doro MMA staff, such as mixed-martial-arts fighter Ace Samples—whose fighting style is described as "elusive striker" in his online bio—train students in combat sports such as kickboxing. Opponents aren't the only thing the center's students learn to defeat; they also overcome body fat during cardio-boxing classes that consist of bag and pad work, running, and plyometrics. The center even holds kids' kickboxing classes so that children can learn to defend themselves when they're picked on by Don Rickles.
All day, every day, the walls of Fitness @ Five reverberate with the sound of vigorous exercise. The hubbub originates from more than 50 pieces of Life Fitness and Hammer Strength equipment, from treadmills and elliptical machines that display workout stats as they boost cardiovascular endurance to plate-loaded weightlifting machines that resist force as they strengthen muscles. Available to members and visitors, SunVision Elite tanning beds and a collection of lotions enhance or lock in golden hues.
Throughout the day, feet pound the floors of Dancefx to a multitude of classic and modern beats. With a packed schedule of classes, including adult hip hop and kids’ jazz, the non-profit studio uses dance to benefit the community, directing its proceeds towards an array of local charities. In addition to classes, Dancefx sponsors four separate dance companies and hosts summer camps, private lessons, and birthday parties.
Exercisers run, trot, lift, and exert all around The Omni Club of Athens, which holds over 150 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, most equipped with personal televisions. In a large and spacious group-exercise room, over 100 classes occur, such as yoga, spinning, or Zumba. A large rock-climbing structure in the shape of a bulldog welcomes ascent, while locker rooms wait complete with a sauna, lounge, pool tables, and massage chairs.