Mark Toomey once helmed his own recruitment firm in Nottingham, England, on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest, but a disdain for damp winters led him to the sun-drenched beaches of Siesta Key. Since opening Robin Hood Rentals in 2009, Mark has persevered through what he calls "Florida's harshest winter in 30 years," during which temperatures teetered near the freezing mark. He equips visitors with rental land-based and aquatic craft that let them explore the area without having to saddle a horse or propose to a dolphin.
From its perch near the Jim Neville Marine Preserve, the company fits cyclists with a range of beach, mountain, and tandem bicycles; matches riders to a fleet of two-seat 49cc automatic scooters; and trains visitors to venture off on newer-model i2 LeanSteer Segways. They also let kayakers explore the local waterways from sunrise into the nighttime.
At Evie’s Golf Center’s mini-golf course, putter-wielding patrons embark on an 18-hole, par 40 odyssey through treacherously sloped, emerald-turf corridors kissed by the gentle mist of hole-side waterfalls. Outduel old rivals with a smooth and dependable putting stroke, or use the round as practice to fine-tune new techniques such as using your own double-gripped putter or intimidating finicky orbs until they take cover in each hole.
Eduardo Torres’s interest for capoeira began in his teens, but it wasn't until he traveled from Northern California to Florida that he discovered his passion for teaching the Afro-Brazilian sport. After extensive training, Eduardo earned the title of Professor Girino and became a member of Grupo Maculelê. Tucking that experience into his back pocket, Eduardo now leads four Tampa Capoeira studios across the Greater Tampa Bay Area.
At those studios, Professor Girino and his savvy staff teach the ways of capoeira to students of all ages and skill levels, and they have even trained Major League Baseball catcher Russell Martin. During classes, students form a traditional roda, or circle, as they learn everything from the rhythmic chants that keep fighters on beat to the fluid, acrobatic movements that send their bodies spinning across a mat. Professor Girino also points out that capoeira is not about fighting but rather anticipating the opponent's next move, much like playing chess against a short-tempered orangutan.
Designed by golf-course architect Ted McAnlis, Misty Creek Country Club's emerald terrain traverses a 350-acre wildlife preserve of native wetlands, forests, and lakes. The par 72 course follows the natural topography of the preserve, rife with environmental obstacles such as bunkers, water hazards, and caddy-eating Venus flytraps. Holes also offer a variety of tactical challenges that require both careful putts and meticulously aimed drives. Players can hop into their golf cart to zoom from each ball borough to open plain, enjoying the cool breeze off the marsh as they ride. The course's wildlife preserve is home to more than 70 winged creatures, including a bald eagle that lays golf balls, deer, alligator, and wild boar. Golfers are respectfully asked to adhere to the course dress code.
The experienced instructors at Beyond Dancing guide students through all styles of ballroom and Latin dancing, including waltz, salsa, tango, cha-cha, swing, and hokey pokey. Private and group classes are held in a spacious studio with gleaming wood floors.
Dancin on the Suncoast owner Patrick Johnson is a bona fide world-class dancer, claiming his first titles as a British Juvenile and Junior Ballroom Champion. He proved successful in multiple dance styles, eventually becoming the champion of both European Amateur Latin and Amateur European Ten-Dance competitions. He’s been trusted as a World Class Adjudicator, and helped co-found the Brazilian Open Championships. Patrick and his team prepare students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts with both private instruction and group classes. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead, follow, or stand gracefully still. They also host Zumba classes, which use a combination of dance and aerobics to help burn calories and tone muscle.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, 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 cha-cha. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and foxtrot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba.