Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
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.
Dennis Buice, a member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, unlocks the ocean's depths for students during diving courses that follow the PADI curriculum. Scuba-diver classes start out by introducing students to diving in monitored, shallow water, and advanced sessions span a spectrum from PADI open-water certification to professional training in the rescue-diver course. PADI specialty courses explore focused subjects such as snapping underwater photographs or maximizing underwater time by using enriched air nitrox. Kids’ classes or Discover Scuba lets youngsters and newbies breathe underwater for the first time in the safety of a pool filled with less than 6 feet of water and no starving sharks.
At Combat City combatants are outfitted for controlled engagement using real weapons in a 40,000-square-foot, air-conditioned indoor arena housed in a converted Publix. After briefing players on using the gear and the rules of play, the staff releases players into the arena, where they test their skills among rooms, corridors, and plywood houses. In addition to the indoor arena, Combat City has 180 acres of open and wooded terrain available to combatants.
Donning armor of red, purple, and gold, Orlando City has established itself as one of the USL Pro’s most dominant teams, winning USL Pro championships in 2011—its inaugural season—and 2012. After their second championship, the squad’s success attracted the attention of the MLS’s Sporting Kansas City, who will serve as Orlando City’s parent squad for two years, beginning with the 2013 season.
With 30 years of high-quality home cooking beneath her belt, owner and chef Deb Swartz crams studious brains with recipes for seasonal delights in succinct demonstration classes that pepper tongues with sample tastings of a complete meal’s worth of recipes. Hosting 30 students each, the Cooking Essentials series fills Sunday afternoons with simple home recipes based around versatile techniques such as broth making, meat braising, or meat praising, which boosts protein self-esteem with compliments written in butter. Attendees can register for the January 15 session on winter soups to discover the secrets behind simplified gumbo or to craft a slurpable, sugary treat in the form of blueberry dessert soup. Alternatively, January 29’s session on winter fish dishes explores the methodology of seameats such as crab bisque or fish baked three ways.
Cypress trees sway in the breeze, lush tropical vegetation soaks up the sunshine, and white sandy beaches glisten nearby as Buena Vista Watersports' rental jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and pontoons tote adventurers across the spring-fed waters of Lake Bryan alongside waterskiers and wakeboarders. The Key West–style resort, located just east of Disney World, allows families and friends to glimpse local wildlife as they skim scenic shorelines and chase picturesque settings at an aquatic reservoir as vast and secluded as Bigfoot's bathtub. The resort's alighted tiki torches and palm trees that border its tiki bar and pavilion attract groups for company picnics or private events such as weddings and parties, during which revelers can partake in watersports, dance to reggae, or watch a fire-dancing show.