The coaches at Athletes Edge are dedicated to creating top-performing sportsmen and women. Just ask former UFC light-heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans, who benefitted from the company's rigorous mixed-martial-arts training program. They also help college prospects prepare for the NFL combine, and specialize in sports ranging from baseball, basketball, and soccer, to volleyball and tennis. The crew focuses on enhancing each adult’s or child's capacity for speed, agility, strength, and overall performance in a fun, sports-oriented environment. The classes are designed for all types of people with varying fitness goals.
Director of training Jeff Sanders, a certified strength-and-conditioning and performance-enhancement specialist, worked with several influential NFL coaches when he trained the Baltimore Ravens beginning in 2001. Sanders also gained clinical-rehabilitation and gait-training experience while working in the inpatient post-op division of Shands hospital. He and his team train athletes in the brand-new, 62,000-square-foot Fernandez Family Center and the two adjacent football and soccer fields on the Saint Thomas University campus in North Miami.
The sound of little limbs cutting into clear water with increasing confidence fills Quality Swimming's facilities, where instructors keep class sizes small in order to give individual attention and encouragement to each student. All instructors bear Red Cross certifications in CPR, standard first aid, and general lifeguard skills, and some hold additional honors such as degrees in infant teaching from the United States Swim School or certifications in instruction for developmentally disabled students. The trainers also undergo extensive training in Quality Swimming's in-house program, which includes observational sessions, seminars, and shadowing with senior teachers. Despite this intensive program, they continue to hone their skills year-round with local and national workshops, regular in-house refresher training, and international Marco Polo tournaments.
Students of all experience levels slowly grow to revel in the dreamlike effortlessness of movement through water in outdoor pools at three locations. Instructors pass on basic water-safety skills and more advanced swimming techniques, always with the principal aim of teaching students to exist comfortably within water and respect the pool noodle's natural ecosystem.
Maxim Life is in the health business, offering wellness coaching, supplements, and nutrition screenings. But health isn't just a business plan for the company—it's also personal. When local teen Talia Bennardo was diagnosed with the incurable kidney disease FSGS and learned she'd need a risky double kidney transplant, a group of friends and local merchants banded together to create the Maxim Life Fair, with admission fees going to Bennardo's care. After the transplant was performed, the organizers decided to keep hosting monthly events to support research and care for young organ-transplant patients.
Attendees are benefitting their own bodies, too: the health-focused fairs share information on health and nutritious cooking through the expertise of doctors and other wellness pros. And it's not all about eating your vegetables. Past events have included boutique trunk shows, organic wine tastings, and other fun activities.
FLA Aquatics owes its growth from a 65-member operation to the home of multiple state, national, and international champions to 2000 Olympic coach Duffy Dillon, who—as noted in the Sun Sentinel—was recently inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. Dillon has amassed an experienced staff of certified instructors who have passed a national level-two background screening, including head coaches with level-five certification from the American Swimming Coaches Association. The company's multiple locations offer programs for all ages, including very young children learning to safely enter the water, competitive high schoolers, and adults seeking to train for a triathlon or start a floatie-based fashion trend.
Like a flight to Athens without the jet lag or TSA tickle-fights, the Saint Mark's Opa in Boca festival brings international flair to Boca Raton for its 33rd consecutive year. "Ola kala" (all is good) at the scenic Saint Mark Greek Orthodox Church, where merrymakers gather to celebrate all things Greek. The smell of fresh lamb, olives, yogurt, and deep-fried loukoumades fills the air, ventilated by flames leaping off grills and ready to be washed down with beer, wine, or a cup of traditional Greek coffee. Meanwhile, the dance floor bustles with performers clad in snappy traditional garb. In addition to the dancing, drinking, feasting, and overall revelry, the festival features rides and games for the little ones, and an international marketplace where attendees can commemorate their figurative vacation abroad.