Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Saphira, the matriarch and founder of Saffron Dance, didn?t even exist 20 years ago, much like ?I survived Y2K? bumper stickers. Saphira was known as Rachael Galoob-Ortega, a lawyer who practiced in DC and Florida for a decade. But her high-power career and hefty paycheck couldn?t extinguish her passion for dance. And so she became Saphira, an international belly-dance artist and instructor with numerous accolades, including being featured in American Belly Dancer, a documentary about belly dance in the United States.
Saphira opened Saffron Dance six years ago, and along with 18 fellow instructors, channels her years of expertise into dance courses that get progressively more challenging from week to week. Welcoming all levels, her classes teach both Egyptian-inspired belly dance and community-focused tribal belly dance. Regardless of the class type, Saphira and her teachers encourage pupils to express their unique voices through dance, all while keeping proper alignment, mastering precision, and having fun.
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The colorful walls of Bella Ballerina’s studio echo with the patter of little feet springing across the wood floors. Classes welcome tiny dancers aged 18 months to 10 years, with ballet barres only a couple of feet off the ground and story time at the beginning of each session. The teachers, all professional dancers with years of performing and teaching experience, lead their students through basic ballet moves while sprinkling in jazz and tap. In addition to the classes, Bella Ballerina also hosts birthday parties that combine the things kids love: cupcakes, ballet, goodie bags, and another day lived without meeting whatever lives under the bed.
UFC Gym?s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, UFC Gym sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym?s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
Suldbayar “Sugi” Damdin, a judo instructor at Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness, represented Mongolia when he competed in judo for the 2004 Olympics. His colleague, boxing and CrossFit instructor Derek Sierra, was once a Master Fitness Trainer for the US Army and has amassed more than two decades of boxing experience. Résumés like these are common at the martial-arts and self-defense oriented fitness studio, where every instructor is either a current or former competitive athlete. Whether they're teaching muay thai kickboxing, boxing, or mixed martial arts, the veteran instructors ensure that their charges’ self-confidence rises along with their stamina, flexibility, and frequency of dreams about punching bags.