A U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association?rated master pilot, Matt Taber has been soaring through the skies since 1978, during which time he's managed to design several of his own gliders. He's also devised and constructed other contraptions, such as glider-towing equipment and lightweight tow planes?both of which his company, Lookout Mountain Flight Park, uses to teach new recruits how to surf the skies. Matt leads a team of USHPA-certified pilots and instructors that coaches students of all levels in basics and advanced maneuvers through on-the-ground training and hands-on tandem flights, during which pilots safely guide their charges over the scenic mountains and blurry bushes of Lookout Valley at altitudes of up to 3,000 feet. Conducted on a 55-acre private training facility, lessons can include the overnight use of amenities such as a pool, volleyball court, bathhouse, and cabins.
In 2001, the team at Southtree converted their first videotape to DVD. By the time they celebrated their 10-year anniversary, they had transferred more than 250,000 memories onto long-lasting digital formats. Today, clients follow a simple process with services that include photo-scanning, video-to-DVD, film-to-DVD, data DVD, and ancient Roman scrolls into text messages about togas. The staff processes each item by hand, yielding high-resolution photos and professionally mastered DVDs. Customers should allow eight weeks from the time materials are sent to Southtree to receive shipment.
Covered in jagged faces and colorful tape, the climbing spaces at Urban Rocks Gym challenge mountaineers of all skill levels. More than 100 top-rope and lead-climbing routes rise up to 35 feet, with both relaxed vertical paths and grip-testing overhangs. A separate kids' wall offers lower altitudes for aspiring climbers, bolstering their confidence once they reach the top. Topped by an amphitheater-like roof, the 3,000-square-foot top-out-bouldering area enables participants to live out their dream of becoming a stalactite with a 60-degree wall, overhanging arêtes, and a maximum height of 14 feet. Those returning to the gym will find that its routes are regularly recalibrated, with 15 new top-rope routes and 25 new boulder problems every week.
Tennessee Bouldering Authority's staff design climbing paths that pose physical and mental challenges across nearly 3,000 square feet of rock-climbing space. The team upholds a philosophy centered entirely around bouldering, a discipline that allows climbers to move unencumbered by belay systems and unbidden visions of their rope turning into a snake. Meanwhile, away from the rock walls, guests in workout classes use weights, training boards, and gymnastic rings to add some diversity to their exercise sessions. Energetic music blasts from a sound system during yoga classes, while climbers yodel their own workout beats on guided outdoor-climbing trips.
At more than 900 learning centers across the world, Sylvan offers kids a leg up through personalized, one-on-one programs prescribed by an in-depth skills assessment. Students build on past lessons to learn progressively, and sessions may hone in on different disciplines, granting kids the confidence to interpret literature and the rhetorical skills needed to negotiate a later bedtime. The positive mindset of personable, invested instructors helps to inspire kids to greater academic feats, as does a prize program that rewards hard work with CDs and gift cards.
Whether, certifying scuba divers or teaching kids how to swim, Choo Choo Diving and Aquatic Center's small class sizes ensure students get the most out of their courses. Inexperienced divers enroll in the discover scuba class, and more advanced divers can get certifications to become open-water instructors. Meanwhile, at the swim school, kids as young as 6 months old splash in the pool with their parents, whereas older children are separated by age and experience level.