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.
Growing up, Bryan Snell was something of a wunderkind. Since his first foray into scuba diving at the age of 6, he hasn't looked back, gaining a master-diver certification while working as an EMT and firefighter. But his heart has always been in scuba diving, and after gaining his PADI instructor certification, he realized his dream by opening Below H2O Scuba Diving Academy.
He and his staff teach both beginner and advanced scuba classes on subjects ranging from open-water certifications to specialized deep or enriched-air diver certifications. Bryan also leads students on sojourns to local diving hotspots and really deep puddles for practice. He even trains master divers, teaching them advanced skills through rescue and emergency-first-response courses.
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.
Safari Wilderness Ranch's exotic wetland animals freely roam 260 acres of grassy plains, girded by an 850-square-mile watershed. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America and licensed by the USDA, the ranch is an agritourism project dedicated to teaching about endangered species through hands-on safaris. Wandering zebra and watusi-cattle herds coexist harmoniously with waterbuck and lost cable guys as explorers ride by on trucks, horse-drawn carts, and camels. An outdoor aviary flutters with nearly 100 colorful, playful budgie parakeets who will munch millet seeds from the palm of a hand, and a lemur habitat allows guests to feed the ring-tailed primates grapes.
During the day or night, on a holiday or a plain old Tuesday, Anytime Fitness is always open. Once they register, members get a key to the gym’s secured entryway, which means they have 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year access to any of the club’s nearly 1,800 locations all over the globe. Personal trainers staff each location, where they lead customized one-on-one training sessions or provide quick and simple tips for using the gym’s high-quality cardio and strength-training equipment. The roster of group classes includes kickboxing and boot camp to whip bodies into shape in a fun and supportive environment. After a sweat session, members can head to the locker room for a shower or catch up on their stories on one of the treadmills equipped with a personal TV. Exercisers can also accentuate their hard-earned musculature with a tanning session or two, since access to beds is either added onto their membership for an additional fee or billed on a pay-per-use basis.
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