Since 2003, the Head family—Robert, his wife, Holly, and their two daughters—has fostered a welcoming environment at Double H Equestrian Center for both horse and rider. They use the Natural Horsemanship approach, colloquially known as “horse whispering,” to connect riders with their mounts. Natural Horsemanship is based on understanding horse nature and psychology. It forgoes force and intimidation in favor of peaceful communication and whispers of “You’re the prettiest pony who ever lived, oh yes you are.”
As the head coach of both the Whitmore Lake middle and high-school equestrian teams who rides multiple horses daily, Robert has a keen eye for both the horse’s and rider’s needs. He knows how to pair students with the proper lesson horse and develop the confidence of both.
Children as young as 4 months take to the pool at Goldfish Swim School, which grew from an idea by Founder Jenny McCuiston––who has qualified for two Olympic Swimming Trials herself––to meet the demand for quality swim lessons in the area. Having traveled the country and studying the structure of many renowned swim schools, she developed a proprietary curriculum, which she and her Red Cross–certified instructors have taught to more than 500 students. The tropical decor also creates a fun setting for birthday parties, which include amenities such as private attendants and cupcakes.
Footnotes' owner Ashleigh DeWeese Alarcon found a good way to ensure a wide range of dance styles could be taught through her classes—she became certified to teach 14 styles herself. Inside the airy, bright, and sunlit Concourse Hall, Ashleigh and her crew of teachers instruct in classic styles that range from swing and the viennese waltz to bolero and argentine tango. Brides- and grooms-to-be can also consult Footnotes to create a first dance that wows family and friends.
The Polo Fields Golf and Country Clubs encompasses two locations—one in Ann Arbor and one in Ypsilanti—each with its own 18-hole course and refined clubhouse. Designed by renowned architect William Newcomb, the par 72 Ann Arbor course channels the blustery hillocks and grass-eating bagpipes of courses in the United Kingdom with a 6,828-yard layout featuring broad, links-inspired fairways and deviously slick greens. A community fixture for nearly a century, the Washtenaw course takes clubbers on a verdant voyage among native oaks and cedars, burbling streams, and tranquil ponds. Both sites house fully stocked pro shops, where guests can peruse the latest in on-course duds, clubs, hats, and remote-controlled golf balls from brands such as TaylorMade, Adidas, FootJoy, and Titleist.
Guests can bask in views of the splendid links while enjoying regionally inspired American fare and frothy drinks at the clubs’ two dining facilities, both of which feature settings for a variety of occasions. Swimmers can stroke through the outdoor lap pool at the Washtenaw location, and sunbathers can lounge by the colossal, resort-style pool in Ann Arbor. Within the Ann Arbor fitness center, hearts race on elliptical machines, muscles pump free weights, and calories melt during group fitness classes, before muscles soak in the warm, golf-ball-free waters of the hot tub.
Ann Arbor Course at a Glance:
Washtenaw Course at a Glance:
The course at Lake Forest Golf Club keeps golfers of all abilities on their toes with two unique nines that wind through 176 acres of natural terrain, which helped earn it a spot as host of LPGA Futures Tour events for five years in a row. The links-style front nine lets big hitters pummel their drives without fear of getting permanently stuck in dense forestation or hearing the unsettling scream of a falling tree. Bookended by par 5s on holes one and nine, the front nine rewards long drives but requires that golfers remain nimble, as the second and eighth holes are both treacherous par 3s that punish improper club selection. Between the 9th and 10th tees, golfers see a rapid transformation from links-style to a back nine more reminiscent of northern Michigan, with tree-lined fairways, wetlands, and areas dotted with wildflowers. Here, course-management capabilities become starkly apparent, as golfers must repeatedly make the choice whether to lay up short of water, muscle shots over water onto the green, or wait for the next drought.
In addition to plenty of opportunities to take strokes that count, Lake Forest Golf Club encourages game improvement through risk-free practice strokes at its 5-acre practice facility. Players work on their entire games from long bombs off the tee on a three-tier driving range to short-game dexterity on two large putting greens, two sand bunkers, and a chipping area. Headed up by LPGA teaching professional Debbie Williams-Hoak, the facility also teaches the game through individual and group lessons with male and female instructors.
Course at a Glance:
One of three devoted dancers who founded Studio 3 Performing Arts Center, Megan Stanley told the Dexter Patch that she wanted a venue where "girls or guys of any skill level feel they can have a place to dance." Today, the center has broadened her dream by teaching visitors how to become a triple threat onstage. Lessons in music, dance, and theater place its students—some as young as two years—on the road to self-expression, while an atmosphere of fun and acceptance keeps them practicing.
The owners teach most of the classes themselves, building a community of students and parents that trust their expertise and attend regular recitals. This convivial spirit carries over to theater performances, where audience participation and Samuel Beckett's famous call-and-response cheers ensure everyone's involvement. Classes welcome all-comers to try their hand at intuitive cardio workouts and competitive choreography alike, the latter of which has led the studio's crew to a Best in Studio award at the 2012 JUMP dance convention.