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.
Cardboard cutouts clad with cartoon superheroes and banners featuring beloved Hollywood starlets bedeck the walls of the Movies at Wellington lobby, reminding patrons why film viewing has become such a time-tested American pastime. Buttered popcorn kernels glint through front counters like diamonds in a jewelry-store case, luring those who want a snack while watching the newest releases in digital projection or innovative RealD 3D display. Guests can also question ticket takers about birthday-party packages for 25 guests, which offer unlimited popcorn, soda refills, and a tour of the attic, in which the projectionist stores his hand puppets.
The thrum of the speedboat's engine carries through the water like an ice-cream truck's jingle. A 4-foot-high wake trails behind, fanning out into a fork as the speed increases and the passengers ready their cameras. Soon, a glistening fin breaks the surface. The first bottlenose dolphin seems to levitate on top of the wave while it bodysurfs for the sheer fun of it, then disappears back into the sea. Its pod follows suit, leaping, splashing, and riding the swells, soaking up the attention of the human spectators.
Sights like this are typical on the Dolphin Racer Speed Boat. The sunny yellow craft skirts across the Gulf of Mexico on 60- to 75-minute trips while up to 125 people lounge on the open deck and the captain narrates the sights of the passing beaches. Ample viewing space ensures that cameras can capture split-second jumps and spins when the dolphins heed the call to play. Whether it's because of the thrill of breaching, the pride in their celebrity status, or an underwater bet to see who can communicate with humans first, the dolphins' presence is virtually guaranteed—the boat offers a complimentary future cruise in the case of no-shows.
Energizing beats fuel each furious workout at F.I.R.M. Fitness Camp as groups move together to shave off pounds and shape stronger bodies. Certified personal trainers start fresh each day with a new workout that employs dumbbells, jump ropes, and the Lebert Equalizer to keep heart rates pumping while building muscle mass. Unlike other boot camps, the trainers motivate through positive reinforcement rather than by yelling at clients or leaving passive-aggressive post-it notes on their fridges. Additionally, each energy-boosting session is held indoors, so students need not worry about sessions being canceled due to rain.
Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics’ husband-and-wife instructors unlock physical flexibility and springboard children into gymnastics education with sessions designed to stimulate curiosity and promote fitness. Each 45-minute class echoes with the pounding feet and tiny laughs of students ages 5 and younger as they twist and twirl upon equipment designed to accommodate their short stature and limited grasp of quantum physics. Parents and tots under 3 toddle together during 45-minute sessions that introduce the gamut of gymnastics equipment. Acrobatic acolytes ages 6 and up incinerate calories during 60-minute sessions, performing tumbles that end in sit-ups, backwards somersaults that end in push-ups, and triple-twist front handsprings that end in hiccups.
El Charro slings an extensive dinner menu of innovative Mexican fare, from stuffed quesadillas and sizzling fajitas to homemade tacos and fruity sangria. Acclimate bellies to spicy cuisine with a cadre of 10 shrimp sautéed in lemon, garlic, and habanero peppers, or play it cool with steak-stuffed quesadillas. Sizzling fajitas saunter over to tables with a posse of bell peppers and onions, backed by flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and rice. Feed crispy cravings with two homestyle, deep-fried burritos bursting with beef, fresh jalapeño, and cheese, or take on a chromatic trifecta with the tri-color cheese enchiladas swimming like Father Christmas on vacation in a pool of green sauce, sour cream, and red sauce. All orders include fruity sangria or draft beer, ideal for sharing with dates or guzzling in front of thirsty enemies.
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