The first running of the Potomac Hunt Races took place in 1952, and the event has been an annual tradition in Montgomery County ever since. The event celebrates steeplechase racing—a form of competition that originated in 18th-century Ireland, when riders would dash across uneven terrain and use towering church steeples as their beacons. Today, regular two- to four-mile tracks have become the battlegrounds for steeplechase events, and horses equipped with on-board GPS systems have made church steeples obsolete. Potomac Hunt Races carries on the tradition of this modern-day version of steeplechase racing, while implementing a tradition of its own: donating a portion of the proceeds from each year's event to charity.
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring's 13 courses are color-coded by difficulty level, from yellow for beginners to double black diamonds for experts. They aren't ski trails, though—they're climbing challenges. More than 150 platforms adorn 5 acres of trees, which participants trek among by way of cable, wood, and rope bridges, as well as ziplines. A short safety briefing precedes all excursions, covering how to use the included gear and harnesses.
The park's main courses aren't the only place to test climbing skills. Over in the Monkey Grove, visitors can scale 10 trees fastened with the footholds and grips of a classic rock wall. Younger climbers, meanwhile, can explore The Labyrinth, a small, contained structure featuring more than 40 junior-sized versions of the park's other challenges. The courses illuminate on select Glow-in-the-Park evenings, when food, live music, and hoot-owl choruses await climbers upon their return to terra firma.
With no studio fee and an open-door policy, the Studio at Fulton is always ready for customers to stop in to create whenever the creative juices flood. Select from hundreds of pieces to personalize, including mugs, plates, and a variety of seasonal pottery. Items range from $5 up to $60 for the largest vessels. The Studio at Fulton's selections are all non-toxic and food safe. Deck out your design with more hues than a neon-splattered Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper dipped in a rainbow, or make a statement with a mod motif. Aspiring artists can also try their hands at fusing glass pieces, with no experience required.
Blueberry Gardens' seasoned instructors cultivate whole-body health with a schedule of multi-level classes inspired by ParaYoga, Anusara, and body-balance methods. A composite of breath and movement, ParaYoga challenges students to prod the body's upper limits of flexibility and strength through vigorous postures such as downward dog, dolphin plank, and recumbent Andrew Carnegie. Fueled by an uplifting philosophy, Anusara yoga encourages students to honor their differences, limitations, and talents, and body-balance yoga integrates the body and mind through asanas inspired by Protean animorphs. Each 90-minute class includes mats and props and, if missed, can be substituted in any of the other summer sessions.
At DC Fencers Club (DCFC), head coach Janusz Smolenski leads a team of athletes that molds young fencers into champions. Thanks to his formidable swordsmanship, he has trained Olympic fencers at the ASZ AWF Katowice in Poland and national champions and junior Olympians at DCFC. Working with Coach Smolenski, a trio of coaches brings unique backgrounds and styles to the classes. Dariusz Gilman was a member of the Polish national team and a World Cup finalist, Robert Suchorski was a Polish National Junior Champion and has trained under top Polish and Russian fencing masters, and Ilya Lobanenkov worked with world class Russian, Hungarian, and Polish schools and has led students to two silver meals in the US Open Women’s épée team.
The DCFC facility boasts 10 full-size electric strips on a sprung-wood floor where fencers can lunge, parry, and riposte for hours on end without incurring injury. When not parrying and jousting, the team repairs or custom builds swords for fighters who want better balance, or a foil that can shoot other foils out of the end.
High-energy beats from artists such as Flo Rida, B.o.B., and the Black Eyed Peas bounce forth from the spinning studio at Rock Creek Sports Club, where nationally certified trainers lead stationary cyclists through challenging routes. In addition to these pop-powered workouts, the studio hosts more than 50 other fitness classes, an array of options that prompted the editors of Bethesda Magazine to name the studio 2012’s Best Neighborhood Gym. Zumba classes encourage students to boogie away calories to latin beats, and boxing clinics incorporate one-on-one attention from Golden Glove winner Russell Davis. The team of trainers can also coach visitors through the weight-loss process, or helm small group workout sessions capped at eight participants. The gym also welcomes independent workouts, with equipment such as treadmills, benches, and weights awaiting a few breathless reps of their own.