More than a dance school, IndepenDance Studio inspires its students to express themselves with acting, improv, ballet, and jazz classes for all ages and abilities. The studio’s owner, Mary Knestrick, draws on an extensive dance background that includes training from Broadway Dance Center and The Ailey School to lead her team of professionally trained instructors. The team inspires the next generation to grace the stage with acting, improv, and vocal training classes; ballet and jazz classes prepare students for a variety of small roles in teen dance films. Hip-hop and Irish dance classes activate feet bored from being kissed by doting suitors, whereas fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga, boot camp, and martial arts simultaneously shred calories and impart useful skills.
During the Superhero Scramble, racers of all fitness levels tear across arduous terrain littered with body- and mind-challenging obstacles. Participants must wade through mud and, to reach the finish line, persevere through a barrage of Super Slime generously donated by retired Ghostbusters.
Upon completing the race, athletes ride their endorphin high into a party stocked with ice-cold beer. There, they can mingle with other contestants, sway to live music, and see awards doled out to the fastest runners in each age bracket. Male and female Scramble Gamble contestants compete for prizes that can cover the cost of replacing the engines in their sneakers. The benefits of the race extend beyond the Gamble winners, too—the organizers donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.
At Salsa Caliente, expert instructors strive to spread their love of Salsa dance while introducing students to Hispanic culture. Stressing correct form, timing, and style, they lead groups through classes tailored to each individual’s skill level. They also offer private instruction as well as special sessions for upcoming events such as weddings. Salsa Caliente frequently opens its doors for special events, such as birthdays and quinceaneras, and hosts dance socials that allow students to mingle and explore a variety of dance styles, such as cha cha and merengue.
At West End Golf Club, the 3,940-yard executive golf course, driving range, and putting green are all fully lit, allowing players to tee it up during the day or night. Scott Dombeck oversees the pro shop, which has been arming golfers with equipment from brands such as TaylorMade, Ping, and Wilson for more than 30 years. The shop also helps golfers shave strokes with custom club repair, private and group golf instruction, and associations for men and women.
Brasingtons Adventure Outfitters' knowledgeable staff arms outdoor recreationists with a vast array of rugged, nature-ready products from well-known national brands. Shield eyes from sunlight and hairdos from jealous wind gusts with a variety of Columbia hats ($14–$45). Mountain Safety Research's PocketRocket portable stove ($39.95) lets campers boil 1 liter of water in less than 3.5 minutes, leaving plenty of time to mark trails with jelly beans and give a CamelBak water bottle ($8–$35) to a thirsty bear. In addition to suiting up warriors for battle with the great unknown, Brasingtons also hosts adventurous events, including kayaking demos on the Santa Fe River every Saturday.
Meadowbrook Golf Club's 72-hole championship course, designed by acclaimed golf course architect Steve Smyers, is a picturesque playing field that appeals to golfers of all skill levels. Enjoy 18 holes of golf and greenery with today's deal, weaving in and around the course's rolling hills, tree-lined fairways, and running streams. Tee-totalers in a time crunch can haul clubs quickly and efficiently by zipping around in a rental power cart, instead of mailing them to the back nine.
Spokes have populated the space around 1630 West University Avenue for 65 years, turning stoically as numerous bike shops have come and gone. The spot’s newest cycling incarnation, Chain Reaction Bike Shop, owes its staying power to owner Raleigh Faust and his staff of experts who cater to collegiate commuters, recreational cyclists, and serious athletes alike. Inside the unvarnished wooden storefront, rows of rides from Scott, Jamis Bicycles, and Surly await ownership. Every bike purchased at the shop comes with a lifetime of free service adjustments, making owning a bike as hassle-free as combing a hairless cat. Technicians see to these new rides, taking more than a dozen measurements for individualized fittingsand performing maintenance services that range from spot repairs to comprehensive tune-ups.
Dave Bee, the owner of Schwinn Shop, was practically born on the bicycle saddle—two of his uncles own cycling dealerships, and he remembers being able to ride before he could even walk. His first set of wheels, a 1968 Schwinn Pixie, now hangs on the store's wall, along with wooden-wheeled bikes and quirky items ranging from a Pee-Wee Herman doll collection to turn-of-the-century skis. Bee calls his enterprise a "museum of sorts," a testament to the freedom of spirit one can only discover from behind the handlebars. Indeed, the store's bevy of new and used bicycles entices potential owners to trade in their gas-guzzling horses and set out for new adventures. From the modern Schwinn designs to an assortment of Giant mountain bikes, cruisers, and single-speed commuters, Schwinn Shop's inventory offers options to suit any riding style. For current owners, the full-service repair shop can cure any ailment, from misaligned wheels to graying tassels, and Bee and his team of cycling technicians can customize frames with colorful tires or parts and accessories from Shimano, Origin-8, and Odyssey. The staff also rent out hybrid bikes for leisurely rides around Gainesville, catering to customers unwilling to endure the sleepless nights of ringing bells associated with bike ownership.
Jules and Heather loved not just the fun of belly dance, but its malleability. When they opened Shambling Shimmies Dance Company in 2010, they knew that fusing belly dance with other styles of dance and even fitness exercises would be the best way to share their passion with others. The studio provides well-rounded instruction with classes in technique, improvisational-tribal style, belly-dance boot camp, egyptian style, and more. They can also add belly-dance routines to current wellness programs at businesses, clubs, and community groups. They can take their art to the next level for performances at special events with props such as swords, torches, and cymbals.
For the staff of G-nys Entertainment, being a professional party-starter is equal parts fun and hard work. The team is made up of experienced emcees and DJs who are versed in creating playlists for any vibe, from weddings to birthday blowouts. They can also help to book live musicians, including string quartets, harpists, and entire bands. For those who would rather sway in the spotlight themselves, the resident choreographer teaches ballroom dancing, and arranges first dances for romantic wedding receptions.
A trained Zumba instructor since 2009, Abby Estilong skillfully ushers pupils through the fitness technique's energetic choreography, set to a spirited soundtrack of fast-paced rhythms and latin-music beats. During each class, she engineers a series of lively dance movements that help oust lollygagging calories and yield svelte, toned physiques. Aside from standard Zumba, Abby also forges lean bods during Aqua Zumba and Hot Hula classes inspired by the traditional dances and ThighMaster machines of Pacific Island cultures.
S-Connection facilitates cross-cultural experiences through learning and performance—both on and off the ground. Its programs all have a Brazilian bent, with dance workshops for those who want to learn the samba, or fuse South American steps with the rhythms of Jamaican reggae. Instructors also teach circus arts, training students how to twist and tumble on aerial silks, the trapeze, and the lyra. They even organize trips to Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. Each retreat includes lessons on a topic of the traveler's choice—surfing, music, dance, or Portuguese—in addition to activities such as scuba diving and festival visits.
Under the tutelage of certified scuba instructors, pupils at the family-owned Scuba Monkey Dive Center explore underwater worlds during PADI, open-water, nitrox, and advanced courses. The center's regular dive trips gather together trained divers on jaunts to Venice Beach and Troy Springs, where they get up close with aquatic inhabitants and discarded pet rocks. At the shop, divers can stock up on brand-name equipment for sale and rent, refill tanks with nitrox and air, or hand over broken equipment to ace technicians, who swiftly identify and correct any problems.
Chiefland Golf & Country Club has invited players to rain iron approaches and dig up divots on its 18-hole course since 1974. The par-72 course stretches to a distance of 6,495 yards, which is short enough to keep novices coming back but long enough to give more skilled players plenty of time to really get to know a new gopher headcover.
The Academy of Japanese Martial Arts focuses on competitive judo, in which martial artists hone their sense of balance and movement to knock opponents off their feet. During each class, participants spar and practice grappling and submission techniques, often working in strength training and street self-defense strategies as well.