The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch’s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson.
The rolling emerald acres of this golfing Valhalla provide fairway-farers with a sweeping spread of short- and long-range training areas to hone ball-launching skills. Club collectors, armed with a day-pass punch card, can crush unlimited edifices of dimpled spheres from the 40,000-square-foot tee line of Zoysia grass without risk of waiting behind sloth-paced practice sessions. Alternatively, stock up for 18-hole outings at the PGA-professional-staffed pro shop, which stocks a variety of golfing shirts, grip-enhancing gloves, and accuracy-boosting Egyptian artifacts. Though not included in the value of this Groupon, you can also take a lesson from the professionals or relax at the Watering Hole for a cold beverage after a rough day on the links.
Gotta Ride Bikes expresses its passion for cycling through a glittering arsenal of gear and bikes, and a knowledgeable staff well-tuned to the finer points of their beloved sport and pastime. Expert bike mechanics keep two-wheeled transports in smooth-running shape, nutrition and training experts fashion personalized body-boosting routines, and shoe fitters fix common problems such as using ill-matched footwear and biking with stiletto heels. Throughout the well-stocked store, rows and racks of bicycles from brands such as Scott, Felt, and Look rear up their mechanical haunches, ready to take to the asphalt with aerodynamic speed and lightweight agility. Frame racks, pumps, helmets, and replacement parts keep cyclists of all stripes pedaling safely and efficiently, and jerseys, supplements, and training gear help professional wheel riders shave seconds from race times.
Trained by JuKiDo founder Kyoshi Ivan Ujueta, Haben's Martial Art's head sensei Paul Haben draws from his hard-hitting experience to help students reach their individual goals. Classes cover a range of disciplines including the syncretic style of JuKiDo, which blends the soft defensive styles of judo and jiu-jitsu with the uncompromising strikes of karate and kickboxing. Students can also learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which enables the neutralization of larger opponents through the assistance of the floor, or focused, mixed martial arts for students determined to kick through lead. Since in utero instruction has proven impractical, Haben's Martial Arts accepts students starting at 4 years of age, with classes especially designed for different age groups.
When 16-year-old Roger Soler crossed the finish line first at the Peruvian National Junior Championship, his victory marked the beginning of a love affair with running. At age 18, he set a Peruvian record in the 1500-meter and eventually brought his talents to the U.S., where he competed in the 5000-meter race at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Through it all, Roger nurtured a genuine fondness for running that blossomed into a full-fledged passion when he opened the first Soler's Sports more than two decades ago.
Today, Soler's Sports boasts four locations staffed by athletes with real-life experience in biking and running and was awarded a spot on Running Insight's Top 50 Running Stores of 2011. Staffers tend to customers on an individual basis, guaranteeing sneakers to accommodate gaits and bikes to fit bodies based on detailed analyses. Once employees have profiled the perfect shoe or bike, they help patrons find them, searching through the store’s stock, which includes brands such as Ridley Bikes, Vibram FiveFingers, Vitalsox, and Spibelt. Patrons can test-drive new kicks and wheels at the store's group runs and rides.
For United Gymnastics' coaches, gymnastics isn't just about mastering a back handspring or having the flexibility to sink into the splits. In classes, they nurture kids to become more disciplined and confident as they strengthen their bodies and gain coordination. Parents accompany their little ones to toddler classes, which are held in a sectioned-off area with miniature, cushy equipment. Older kids advance through classes that develop tumbling and gymnastics prowess at age-appropriate levels, laying the foundations for a lifetime of physical activity.
The staff members also host birthday parties and summer camps that engage tykes with crafts and open-gym time, in which they will gain enough dexterity and flexibility to build s'mores with their feet.