Divers' clothing flaps in the wind as they soar toward a patchwork of meadows, with forests spreading out in all directions and mountains looming on the horizon. Sometimes, as the wind rushes past their ears, they can look out and glimpse seven volcanoes in the distance. But before these jumps, Skydive! Toledo's instructors impart the necessary safety measures, touching on how to ensure a parachute has been maintained, how to land, and how to use a guidebook to ask birds for directions. After briefing visitors on the basics, expert jumpers help them learn the physics firsthand on tandem jumps and accelerated free-fall plunges from small Cessna aircraft. They also train first-time skydivers through the static-line program—a former military exercise now used to train sports parachutists toward licenses. From the strut of a single-engine Cessna plane, at an altitude of 3,000 feet, a student leaps into the air and falls for up to three seconds before a static line attached to the plane deploys a parachute and takes the guesswork out of pulling the ripcord.
By the age of 30, Stephanie Howard's extreme athleticism had nearly run her body into the ground. She was participating in physically demanding sports, from snow-ski racing and water-ski jumping to 197-mile relay marathons and even playing volleyball while pregnant. Stephanie had severely traumatized her spine in the process, suffering from compressions that landed her in physical therapy, chiropractic sessions, and regular injections at a pain clinic. Everyone told her this could only end one way—with surgery.
Stephanie refused to believe such extreme measures were necessary, and, on a whim, enrolled in a hot yoga school. Not only did her pain begin to subside, but she found herself gaining strength in her back. Hot yoga was the cure she needed. She eventually opened Yoga Hot Spot, starting out teaching 10 classes a week on her own before expanding to three locations with a team of experienced instructors. Each class takes place in a heated studio and explores various techniques including hatha, power vinyasa flow, and giving nicknames to individual beads of sweat.
Smoke and fierce heat rise from a battalion of Weber gas grills and Big Green Egg smokers as barbecue docents line up in front of them, ready to wrangle rafts of raw meat into expertly grilled, smoked, and sauced feasts. In classes that range from three to seven hours, Bay Area BBQ and Grilling School's instructors impart their knowledge of sauces and marinades. They also teach students how to brine, smoke, and grill ingredients such as ribs, turkeys, chickens, peppers, pork, and veggies, all of which are provided. The four dudes in charge have been leading classes since 1998. Head honcho Stu McMullen draws upon myriad cooking classes and international travels to develop exciting recipes, while "sauce king" Eric Viken introduces sauces that can enchant palates and save accidentally overcooked meats. The barbecue experts hold classes on site or in private backyards, enabling the family cat to finally learn to do something productive with its hunting gifts.
Following a curriculum designed by Dr. Lin Day, a British child-development expert, the classes at Baby Sensory help to forge the bond between parents and their infants by engaging all the baby’s developing senses. Sessions begin with a song accompanied with sign language before diving into one of 40 unique lesson plans, which incorporate everything from exercise and stretches to music, puppet shows, and tactile games with scarves and feathers. Parents and children then split off into an exploratory play area—suited for both noncrawlers and babies strapped into tiny roller skates—to engage in play together and meet other families in a comfortable and safe environment. Lessons conclude with more structured sensory activities based on the latest research and developmental theories.
Anytime Fitness, as the name suggests, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year with nonstop security. Sprint to the sounds of gridiron battles on cardio machines outfitted with TVs or camouflage your skin’s capacity for blushing with six weeks of unlimited tanning-bed access. Eight basic group classes shred fat through catalyzed camaraderie, be it the heat-pounding boogie-down of Move & Groove or the stress-banishing breath control used in Gentle yoga. Muay Thai classes return from their summer hiatus to forge strength through cathartically vicious blows from the hands, feet, knees, elbows, and prehensile tail.