With a lineage that traces back more than 30 years to its founders' respective schools, Tiger Rock Martial Arts has grown to more than 200 locations nationwide. Tiger Rock's primary focus is tae kwon do, through which certified trainers teach youngsters the skills to defend themselves, as well as confidence and discipline. Adults can learn tae kwon do as well or encounter martial-arts moves in a calorie-torching aerobic workout. Tiger Rock also partners with sports teams to bolster their training or with corporations to get their employees up, moving, and healthy.
Taking place on rugged, 10K–12K courses across the country, the Green Beret Challenge gives participants the chance to demonstrate the legendary toughness and endurance of the race's namesakes. In teams of two or four, male, female, and coed crews all take a stab at glory. Armed with backpacks, lengths of rope, and sturdy D-rings, each team must prove its mental and physical tenacity by tackling a series of challenges that require participants to scale obstacles and carry heavy loads across mud, sand, and other surfaces. Every race is followed by a celebration, during which winners are awarded prizes and every of-age finisher receives a complimentary beer to quench thirst and complement endorphin highs.
It's difficult to tell whether Master Thomas Gordon or Master Gregory Bledsoe would win in a fight. That's because the two martial-arts instructors have worked on the same team for more than a decade. In that time, they've developed a teaching style that has caught the attention of the local and national press.
All the attention is warranted, because Masters Gordon and Bledsoe aren't just effective instructors—they're avid students of their craft. Gordon, for example, has attended countless tae kwon do seminars and camps, and he can articulately speak about the discipline's history as well as flawlessly demonstrate its self-defense techniques. Both instructors are also acutely aware of the real-life applications of tae kwon do and hapkido. Plenty of police officers have attended their classes looking to get a leg up on the next criminal, and kids and teens use their newly acquired moves to defend against bullies or rip up impossible math tests.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Meadow Links Golf Club stretches its grassy reaches over the rolling hills of George T. Bagby State Park. The par-72, 18-holer bears all the distinctive elements of a Scottish links-style course, including deep rough, narrow fairways, and few trees to block sudden, kilt-lifting gusts of wind. The 7,007-yard course shares the park's 700 acres with a lake, swimming beach, and plenty of lodging, as well as a restaurant for post-round eats.
Fewer than 400 dentists around the world can currently claim accredited membership in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, but Dr. Dennis Lichorwic is determined to add one to their ranks. In the process, he's submitted to a multiyear system of peer review that includes written and oral exams and in-depth clinical case studies that are scrutinized by the members of the Academy.
This passion for continual education has helped make his practice the nine-time winner of Emerald Coast Magazine's Best Dental Practice award. Along with his partner Dr. Julia Sprang and their friendly staff of hygienists and dental assistants, Lichowic keeps up with new technologies to treat patients with popular new procedures such as Invisalign teeth-straightening treatments and ultra-quick Zoom! whitening.
Meanwhile, patients say aah in a pair of offices whose waiting areas, despite their stately exteriors, evoke nothing so much as a posh family room. Carafes of coffee sit atop a coffee bar in the waiting room, a flat-screen TV hangs over a fireplace that sucks pre-appointment anxieties from the air, and wooden floors lessen the institutional feel of treatment rooms.