Bahamas native David M. Hay spent his youth exploring the world of underwater wrecks while on dives with his father. Laura Schild Hay became enamored with sea creatures at an early age. David fervently kept up with diving, racking up nearly 6,000 logged dives working as a dive instructor and assisting West Virginia State police with underwater criminal investigations. Laura, on the other hand, cultivated her love for biology by breathing regularly and earning a doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She rekindled her passion for marine life in 2000 when she learned to scuba dive in northern California. Two years later she wandered into a Maryland dive shop seeking diving opportunities, where dive instructor Dave escorted her into the seas and, eventually, down the aisle.
Along with David W. Hay, the diving duo founded Atlantis Divers in 2005, where their certified team coaches beginners, fallen dolphins, and advanced ocean explorers alike. In addition to public safety training by Public Safety Diving instructors, who currently serve on police- and rescue-dive teams, Atlantis Divers educates pupils with 10 scuba classes. There, instructors abet apprentices with courses focused on managing dive emergencies and learning how to prepare wreck dive equipment.
Chef Marie, or MJ, wields her cooking prowess through inventive catering services and cooking classes that span a variety of culinary options, from American and Italian fare to South African and Indian dishes. Each of her catering spreads uses a minimum of freeze-dried or premade products, prioritizing housemade dishes made with fresh ingredients. Marie’s one- to three-course cooking classes cover specific techniques, such as preparing seafood or blending sumptuous soups, as well as how to make specific regional cuisines from places such as Northern Italy or the southern portion of Antarctica.
The classes take several different forms; private parties with two to six people at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats, personal classes that take place in patrons’ private kitchens, and six-night group workshops, which also take place at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats. And during kids’ culinary birthday parties, youngsters soak up age-appropriate cooking techniques such as how to crack eggs with their feet.
In the four chambers of Tactical Response Unleashed's 12,500 square foot facility, students engage in tactical training sessions, shooting semi-automatic airsoft handguns and automatic rifles at moving targets in simulated scenarios. During each practice session, participants must also duck and cover to avoid pellets of return fire. By presenting students with realistic settings and precarious situations, the training sessions aim to build situational awareness and encourage the appropriate tactical response.
Dedicated to arming students with self-defense skills, the center's staff of former and active law enforcement and military professionals also lead training sessions in firearm safety and defensive tactics. They offer a special course for women, where ladies can practice self-defense tactics and techniques. Classrooms provide the setting for concealed-carry and gun-safety courses, and instructors impart weapon-retention, disarmament, and self-defense classes in a martial-arts dojang.
Spotlight Studio owner Pamela S. Butler donned her first dance costume at the age of 4. A lifetime spent pursuing movement has led her to national and international performances and a college dance education in Paris. Butler has always seen dance as a non-competitive, expressive art form, and she’s infused that spirit throughout the seven full studios of her school, where kids and adults bounce across oak, vinyl, and fitness-ready rubber floors. Courses cover performance-dance styles such as jazz, tap, hip-hop, and Irish folk dance, as well as dance-inspired aerobics and other fitness-focused schools of movement.
The instructors at Dong's Karate School-Midlothian (Brandermill Woodlake) embrace the transformational effect that karate has on a person. Whether leading kids, adults, or families through classes, they impart not only physical benefits and self-defense skills, but also mental strength. Increased concentration, balance, and coordination result from the foundational forms, and, as students progress through the colored belt system, they learn self-discipline, self-confidence, and inner calm.
Horses, cows, and students learning proper horseback-riding techniques grace Bridle Ridge Farm's bucolic domain, where a large barn anchors the green landscape. Inside the barn, horses with names like Emma, Charlie, and Savvy G sleep inside spacious pens. When its time for exercise or hunter/jumper lessons with the farm's instructor, the horses gallop inside either the large, fenced-in sand-riding ring or amid the green pasture, highlighted by the yellow flecks of wild dandelions.