When Debra Sternberg first caught sight of Tom Koerner at the Doc Scantlin dance in 1987, she was smitten by his enthusiastic jitterbug. Though the duo's subsequent amorous relationship lasted only a year, their swing-dance partnership has lasted for decades. Together, they have jitterbugged and lindy hopped into the top spots in contests that include the 1994 UK Lindy Hop Championships, the 1998 Virginia State Open, and the 2010 National Living Legends of Swing Award.
Today, Tom and Debra pass on their expertise and passion at Gottaswing, their dance school that has expanded into eight locations throughout the United States. Each week, more than 500 students lay the six- and eight-count foundations for the jitterbug and lindy hop. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes meet six nights a week at various studios and dance clubs throughout the DC area, each equipped with a dance floor where students and a woman who looks suspiciously like Amelia Earhart can let loose . Four nights a week, the school invites students to join fellow classmates at events to dance along with DJ-curated tunes and live music.
At First Class Martial Arts, children may learn basic martial arts strikes. On the other hand, they could learn how to play dodge-ball like a ninja. The coaching studio enrolls students of all ages in structured programs, but also organizes camps and birthday parties around whimsical martial arts games. The age-appropriate classes draw elements from several disciplines, including tae kwon do, kickboxing, karate, and judo. In each, instructors introduce practical self-defense skills alongside core martial arts principles. Each class takes place in First Class's airy, well-lit studio, where padded floors provide ample room for learning new techniques and sparring with an imaginary though still impossible-to-beat Jackie Chan.
Pasadena Golf Center lets visitors create the satisfying thwack of a club hitting a golf ball in one of two locations. They can make out the sound on the 18-hole mini-golf course—where ears will also pick up the sound of trickling waterfalls and the gurgling of landscaped streams and ponds—or at the driving range. Golfers can manipulate a variety of clubs there since targets are set up at different lengths, and 20 of the range’s 34 hitting stations are covered to provide shade during warm months and heat during cold ones. In addition, a full setup of lights let them swing away into the evening or when Apollo's chariot of fire is in the shop. To assist in swing mechanics and proper alignment, the center organizes lessons led by Golf Academy of America–certified instructor, Brett Francisco.
Pasadena Golf Center is also equipped with a nine-station batting cage that challenges visitors with baseball pitches of varying speeds as well as slow- and fast-pitch softball. A 1,600-square-foot patio nearby can facilitate birthday parties or other special events.
Jing Ying literally translates to "best of the best," a term befitting of both the teachers at Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu & Tai Chi, and the students who learn from them. A team of seasoned black-sash instructors?many of whom have competed in national championships?helm progressive programs that help trainees hone strength and flexibility as they learn self-discipline. The schedule offers more than two-dozen classes each week, and includes training in classical and contemporary forms, sparring, and weapons. Age-appropriate kung fu classes, for instance, introduce the graceful throws and takedowns that enable students to use their opponents' own force against them. Contemporary wushu classes then build on that training by introducing acrobatic strikes and other movements. Therapeutic tai chi, women's shaolin fitness, and private personal training sessions round out the class roster.
Jing Ying also gives its students ample space to train. Housed inside a former boat-building facility, the more-than 6,000 square-foot space features three mirror-walled training areas equipped with padded or wood floors or quicksand, as well as private changing rooms and an array of fitness gear including heavy bags and pull-up bars.
A golf course is where players go to test their skills, but Arundel Golf Park is where those skills are formed. At Arundel's outdoor facility, instructors teach private and group classes and hold supervised practice sessions, in which they periodically check in with students as they drive ball after ball at a driving range protected from the wind and distracting cries of caddies. During "fitting days," golfers bring in their current clubs to have one of Arundel's pros determine their ideal length, loft, and other specs.
While golf remains the focus at Arundel Golf Park, the facilities have a couple of other ways visitors can work on their swings. An 18-hole mini-golf course shrinks the game down to a fun challenge of angles and finesse, and batting cages let players set aside the elegant, nuanced game of golf to simply enjoy bashing round things with blunt objects.