The state-of-the-art equipment, convenient amenities, and variety of exercise classes at Courthouse Racquet & Fitness's six locations earned the club several of Jackson Free Press's Urban Living awards in 2011 and 2012, including Best Fitness Center/Gym and Best Yoga Instructor. Visit the flagship Lakeland location to swim in a pool of professional athletic proportions. Explore the 13,000-square-foot Madison 51 facility's yoga, spin, and boot-camp classes or the Northeast center's indoor and outdoor tennis courts.
The newest location in Brandon boasts more than 100 treadmills, elliptical machines, rowers, and other pieces of cardio equipment. Women can take advantage of the Downtown site's ladies-only cardio area. Three locations offer childcare, and the Byram facility has launched an afterschool program, where kids can do arts and crafts and engage in healthy physical activities in an environment devoid of teddy-bear drill instructors.
• For $25, you get one month of tumbling-and-cheerleading classes (up to a $60 value). • For $40, you get two months of Mommy and Me classes (an $80 value). • For $75, you get a 1.5-hour girl's or boy’s birthday party for 15–20 kids (a $150 value).
At High Hopes Farm, experienced trainers and PATH-certified equine expert Callie Cooper Hopping steer both amateur and advanced students in the saddle during 60-minute horseback-riding lessons. Before perching atop one of 10 congenial school horses, beginners bone up on the basics of steed care, such as grooming, tacking, and concealing bushels of apples behind one's ears. The latter half of class allows pupils to pilot their hooved cohorts in English or Western styles. Patrons who have walked, trotted, and cantered without assistance on previous cavalry runs can attend private intermediate or advanced lessons, which begin with approximately 15 minutes of consultation to better tailor riding pointers. Once mounted, riders navigate one of three riding zones on High Hopes Farm's 14-acre facility, bounding over bars on the jumping field, honing gaits in the dressage area, or weaving through meteor showers in the all-weather outdoor arena. While not included with today's Groupon, High Hopes Farm also offers birthday parties for up to 12 children, as well as therapeutic riding for special-needs riders.
Whisper Lake Country Club's verdant course encompasses 4,645 yards of kempt bermuda-grass fairways into a compact-but-challenging par 64 course. Golfers can prepare for rounds with swing-loosening stints at the driving range. There, wise players will focus on mid-length shots and keep drivers securely covered so they don't recognize rounds of golf are being played without them. Various short, drivable par 4s line the course, eschewing the longball in favor of pinpoint long irons or fairway woods, encouraging duffers to direct orbs to hospitable landing areas and set up favorable angles to approach fast, tifdwarf greens. Four sets of tees make the course surmountable for golfers of all abilities, and its compressed yardage—the 18-hole course only features two, relatively short par 5s compared to nine par 3s—allows duffers to complete rounds in about three hours or less, freeing up valuable time to tend to workday obligations or mow basement shag carpets into in-home putting greens. Cart rental is included in all options.
Inside Different Strokes Art Studio, pristine white ceramic bisques fill the cubbies that line one wall, taking all kinds of shapes—from giant vases to wizard hats. Artists of all ages bend to their work at the studio’s tables, dabbling colored glazes onto the matte clay and picking colors and brushes from the center of the table as they go, creating keepsakes such as personalized dinner platters for holidays or ornaments with their child's hand print painted on. When customers are done bedecking their pieces, the shop’s assistants glaze and fire each one, turning items such as plates, bowls, and dip platters instantly food safe and ready to hang on the wall or hold beautifully presented piles of marshmallow fluff.
During Artful Hours’ painting workshops, students learn not just from a master, but from two: their instructor, and the famed painter whose brushwork their instructor helps them copy. During each session, students recreate a classic painting—such as Edvard Munch's The Scream or Van Gogh's Almond Blossom—on their own canvas, adding personal flourishes such as a new color scheme or a couple of whale sharks in the background. Budding artists can hone their craft in BYOB adult sessions, kid sessions, or private-party lessons.