For years, Bill Ahmann mastered the complex inner workings of piston and turbine aircraft as an aviation mechanic. In 1997, he finally achieved his dream by founding his own aviation company out of Anoka County-Blaine Airport. Initially a small venture with a staff that totaled three, Bill's penchant for providing aviation-related services with a personal touch led to rapid growth and a second Twin Cities Aviation location in Saint Paul. In 2008, Bill's veteran squad of flight instructors helped the company achieve Part 141 certification, distinguishing it as a reputable flight school. Today, TCA's staff numbers more than 20 industry professionals drawn from military, commercial-airline, and other aviation backgrounds. Flying a tiptop fleet, the team boasts varied expertise in charter flights, FAA-certified flight instruction, and aircraft sales. The staff's experienced mechanics also service pilots and plane owners with repairs that range from routine safety inspections to refueling propeller hats.
The Mud Games, an exceptionally muddy merger of obstacles and distance, challenges participants of all ages and fitness levels to eschew traditional races in favor of a down-and-dirty good time. At the start of each heat, 200 runners hurl themselves into 3.1- or 1.5-mile courses strewn with sloppy bogs, rope webs, walls, and a mud slide. To keep racers on even terms, the organizers have sprinkled in a handful of mystery obstacles, which may include anything from waist-high water trenches to nephews who need help with their algebra homework. Prizes are awarded for the top three male and female finishers.
But the race isn't just for the sake of getting dirty. It was also started for charitable reasons: the majority of the proceeds go to the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, with additional funding given to the Minnesota Heat youth basketball association. Interested runners can register as individuals or teams, and friends and family are encouraged to come out as spectators and cheer them on.
A duck tower stands 75 feet above Metro Gun Club's shotgun and handgun facility. Here, shooters aim from five different blinds, where incoming and outgoing targets simulate a duck's flight path. The towering perch looms over the range's other outdoor facilities, where instructors teach novices how to fire shotguns. Indoors, firearms experts teach handgun classes at the range, where they also host pistol leagues and oversee rifle shooting.
Masked mercenaries lurk in the shadows of trees waiting to pin down their enemies in a barrage of bursting paintballs at Metro Paintball Center’s 5-acre playing field. The battlefield provides ample cover for players to orchestrate attacks or stealthily field phone calls from their mothers with knee-high grasses, straw bales, and a combination of wooded and open areas, all while overseen by experienced referees. The staff provides compressed air and rents out all the equipment necessary to enjoy a day of recreational combat, though guests who bring their own equipment must use the center’s paintballs.
At Fitness 1st, certified personal trainers inspire clients to make exercise a priority during fun, confidence-building workouts. Though the studio spans 6,500 square feet, personalized attention from the staff makes it feel as cozy as a fireplace clad in long underwear. Here, exercisers chase down their goals during one-on-one training sessions and tackle them with a group during boot-camp-style workouts and core-sculpting Pilates-yoga routines. To promote mind-body wellness and ease muscle soreness, clients can sample up to four types of massage therapy in a secluded kneading area. Swedish massages target stress with long, flowing strokes, and sports massages can enhance performance during athletic events and the breakdancing portion of Shakespearean plays.
Radiating at a balmy 104 degrees with 35% humidity, Heat Yoga Studio is an ideal place to sweat out toxins or thaw TV dinners. The studio plays host to one-hour classes that begin with seated positions and flow into standing poses, backbends, and other asana that challenge students to find a balance between effort and ease. As instructors coach students through sequences, they emphasize pranayama, or breathing, in order to optimize circulation and focus. The classes are suitable for students of all levels.