Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Growing up, Bryan Snell was something of a wunderkind. Since his first foray into scuba diving at the age of 6, he hasn't looked back, gaining a master-diver certification while working as an EMT and firefighter. But his heart has always been in scuba diving, and after gaining his PADI instructor certification, he realized his dream by opening Below H2O Scuba Diving Academy.
He and his staff teach both beginner and advanced scuba classes on subjects ranging from open-water certifications to specialized deep or enriched-air diver certifications. Bryan also leads students on sojourns to local diving hotspots and really deep puddles for practice. He even trains master divers, teaching them advanced skills through rescue and emergency-first-response courses.
Donning armor of red, purple, and gold, Orlando City has established itself as one of the USL Pro’s most dominant teams, winning USL Pro championships in 2011—its inaugural season—and 2012. After their second championship, the squad’s success attracted the attention of the MLS’s Sporting Kansas City, who will serve as Orlando City’s parent squad for two years, beginning with the 2013 season.
With 30 years of high-quality home cooking beneath her belt, owner and chef Deb Swartz crams studious brains with recipes for seasonal delights in succinct demonstration classes that pepper tongues with sample tastings of a complete meal’s worth of recipes. Hosting 30 students each, the Cooking Essentials series fills Sunday afternoons with simple home recipes based around versatile techniques such as broth making, meat braising, or meat praising, which boosts protein self-esteem with compliments written in butter. Attendees can register for the January 15 session on winter soups to discover the secrets behind simplified gumbo or to craft a slurpable, sugary treat in the form of blueberry dessert soup. Alternatively, January 29’s session on winter fish dishes explores the methodology of seameats such as crab bisque or fish baked three ways.
On June 1, as the early-morning sunlight bathes Formosa Gardens in a pale late-spring light, strange shapes will begin to billow up from the nearby landscape. They belong to more than 25 hot air balloons, which will take to the skies to mark the beginning of the Kissimmee Blue Skies Adventure Race at Formosa Gardens. As the balloons observe from on high, runners will navigate 3.5 miles of rodeo-themed obstacles. During the cowboy-inspired race, feet will slap muddy trails and clamber over bronco hurdles, as racers meet challenges ranging from a wagon trail to a feeding troth on their quests to finish first. Medals and T-shirts proclaim victory for each participant who sails over the finish line.
The chefs at Old Town take edible discs seriously, putting in extra care to set delicious pies in front of your lucky face, which is much luckier than your last face. They hand-toss all pizzas and bake them in slate ovens to achieve crispiness before layering on a delicious, house-made sauce composed of sweet tomatoes, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil. There's also white sauce (with creamy Parmesan and roasted garlic), hot and spicy, or basil pesto. Old Town pizzas benefit from fresh, locally sourced ingredients piled high on personal 10-inch pies ($5.99) and crowd-pleasing 16-inch large pizzas ($11.99). Additional toppings range from the familiar to the gourmet, including local Tucumcari feta cheese, green chilies, and toasted pine nuts. The list of specialty pies includes the meat-eater’s dream dinner, the Stampede ($9.50 for 10-inch pie, $20.50 for 16-inch), stacked with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mini meatballs, smoked ham, and ground beef. At the other end of the life-form spectrum is the Farmers Market pie ($9.50 for a 10-inch and $19.99 for a 16-inch), positively lush with fresh veggies and green chilies.