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Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.

Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.

1200 Industrial Ave
Gastonia,
NC
US

Each day, students on horseback gallop alongside attentive instructors on Creekwood Farm’s 30 acres of undulating terrain, learning the subtleties of English saddle-seat riding during private and group lessons. In addition to helping everyone from beginners to advanced riders improve their technique, instructors also take time to teach the essential non-saddle skills of grooming and tacking horses. They encourage each fledgling jockey to learn at his or her own pace, whether riding goals include competing in American Saddlebred Association of the Carolinas shows or simple pleasure riding. The farm’s indoor and outdoor facilities ensure that lessons take place throughout the year, unaffected by winter cold, summer heat, and horse spring break.

5201 CR Wood Rd
Gastonia,
NC
US

Brent Clevenger founded Sink or Swim Scuba in 2006 to provide regular open-water dive experiences to fledging and senior divers alike. He trains neophytes in his full-sized pool, letting them control their buoyancy to drop to the full twelve-foot depth after they master underwater breathing fundamentals in the shallow end. He also oversees scuba certification training during group dives at the Piedmont Dive Rescue Association Lake Norman Quarry. The former dig site provides plenty of underwater excitement with schools of fish and sunken objects to explore, such as the quarry manager's shed which used to house instructions on how not to flood the quarry.

4310 Wilkinson Blvd
Gastonia,
NC
US

Child1st products are specifically designed for right-brained learners, including visual and kinesthetic learners; those labeled with dyslexia, autism, Asperger's, and ADD; and those who struggle with reading comprehension. The multisensory materials are also effective with beginning readers to prevent difficulties.

3302 S New Hope Rd
Gastonia,
NC
US

In the 1960s, husband and wife John and Kate Grice strolled around Rankin Lake, wondering what they could do to help the kids in their neighborhood find gainful entertainment. John whimsically suggested roller-skating, and his idea took root. The pair soon opened the doors to the brand new Kate's Skating Rink. Their creation became the family business, and is now run from two locations by their grandchildren. The rink entertains fun-lovers of all ages with an arcade, multi-level indoor playground, and, of course, the vast and well-maintained skating rink.

1151 Skating Rink Dr
Gastonia,
NC
US

Wardrobe 360's resident fashionistas curate an ever-changing collection of threads that beg for adoring new owners. The shop's shelves groan beneath a lineup as stylish as a monogrammed unicorn, helmed by designers such as Cole Haan, Steve Madden, and Ralph Lauren. Holdings vary week to week but have recently included such items as a pair of Coach sandals ($18) and a Donald J. Pliner purse ($50). A vibrant pair of Lilly Pulitzer slacks ($15) bestows their wearer with the color and confidence to ask a peacock neighbor to return borrowed tools. The recycling-minded location also houses a sweeping selection of bags and purses, as well as jewelry, watches, and other accessories.

1120 Union Rd
Gastonia,
NC
US