Seven extreme athletes and one Royal Marine banded together to design Spartan Races' intense miles-long courses, each strewn with obstacles to test resilience, stamina, and strength. Clad in event T-shirts, runners collect smudges and stains as they clamber across mud pits, slide unscathed under barbed wire, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as three miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
With certifications in golf instruction and club fitting and a degree from the Golf Academy of America, assistant pro Adam Sanford fosters smooth swings and improved skills in each club-toting trainee. Adam imparts hard-won golf wisdom at the Club's comprehensive practice facility, which features areas to hone full swings, putts, chips, and scissor-kick approaches. The 45–60 minute lesson helps iron out on-course kinks by giving special attention to short-game fundamentals, the most critical facet to holistic golf improvement and overcoming the taunts from rival fans sitting in the sand-bunker bleachers.
“It’s like having Mr. Rogers teach your child to swim,” said one parent who left it up to The Swim Lessons Company’s Jim Reiser to show her child the secrets of not sinking. A third-generation swim teacher and coach, Jim approaches his pupils from a gentle, comforting angle that’s especially calibrated to meet the needs of infants, preschoolers, and adults disguised as Toys 'R' Us kids, employing fun activities and drills to impart skills. His friendship with water began in elementary school, and it was a friendship destined to last. To pay for college, Jim leased the university pool and used it to train young swimmers; he went on to teach aquatic courses at the University of South Carolina and lead multiple swimmers to state championships. "The Swim Professor"—a nickname Jim earned after founding Swim Lessons University, an online learning resource loaded with educational videos—now spends his days sharing the magic of swimming with people of every age, imparting the tips and tricks they'll need to survive in a pool, from holding their breath to performing a proper backstroke and catching Marco Polo.
At its two Columbia locations, Plex Indoor Sports aims to provide complete indoor recreation with artificial-turf fields, ice arenas, inflatables, basketball courts, family entertainment center, and full-service cafe. Both facilities offer after-school programs providing access to soccer, football, and lacrosse programs, ensuring that children learn the proper techniques required to work toward goals and play safely. Total-fitness classes are also available throughout the week, highlighting invigorating methods such as yoga, Zumba, and hip-hop aerobics. The Sandhills location hosts a roller-skating rink, and the Irmo location houses an NHL regulation-sized ice rink with public skate times in between hockey games and practice sessions of the local ice-fishing team.
A 30-foot rock-climbing wall towers over the Family Entertainment Center, granting visitors an elevated view of a facility packed with wall-to-wall inflatables and family activities. Visitors can roller skate, set new high scores at the arcade, or attempt to stay atop a mechanical bull. Other attractions include bungee jumping, a rock-n-roll ride, and more.
In Poland, Eddie Balcerzak raced professionally and coached Warsaw's KKS Polonia Cycling Club. He continued on this career trajectory in the United States. In 1985, he found employment with the 7-Eleven cycling team, which subsisted entirely on Slurpies, and then linked up with U.S.A. Cycling. While working for the team, he helped the athletes cycle to a silver medal in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and clinch gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Today, as the owner of South Lake Cycles, Balcerzak shares his wisdom with a new generation of cyclists. He works alongside bicycle mechanics and pro coaches who outfit customers with all the equipment they'll need to race a triathlon or take a joy ride on an aircraft carrier.
The mechanics at Cycle Center outfit bike enthusiasts with custom equipment fittings, expert tune-ups, and a rolling stock of more than 500 bicycles dispersed between the company's two locations. In the interest of both safety and performance, the team makes sure all bikes are carefully assembled and tuned up before the rubber meets the road. They also stock an impressive lineup of apparel and gear, from air pumps that keep tires aptly inflated to helmets that keep heads more protected than a presidential motorcade covered in mosquito netting. In-stock brands include Fuji, Cannondale, and Dahon, a manufacturer renowned for its revolutionary folding bikes.