As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
The riding experts at Fieldstone Park, a full-service boarding-and-riding facility, teach lessons for beginning or experienced riders of any age. Instructors emphasize the forward, or hunt-seat, style, and lessons are targeted by level and discipline; riders can chat with the staff about what class best fits when they call to schedule lessons. Fieldstone's equestrian tutors lead classes in either English–style, in which both hands grasp the reins with pinkies raised, or larger Western–style tack and techniques. The 60-minute group lessons may include up to three riders at once, which affords each rider both full personal attention from the instructor and a sense of camaraderie as students refine horse-human collaboration.
Since 1982, Spirals Gym & Ed-Venture Kids Center has been helping kids hone balance, coordination, and muscle control via competitive gymnastics programs. Today it has expanded to include swimming lessons and afterschool activities, during which kids jump on trampolines and participate in outdoor group activities. Their newest program, the Ed-Venture Kids Academy Preschool, emphasizes both childhood academic learning and physical education, with the intention of helping to prepare children for elementary school. Members of a dedicated staff supervise all activities, whether they are taking place on the 40?x40? carpeted and padded spring floor or on the trampoline.
Waterways snake all over the planet's surface, many emptying into a great blue ocean. As many scuba divers have found, those depths comprise a whole other world to explore—and require a specific set of skills to conquer. At SCUBASTOP, certified instructors use their knowledge to open that aquatic world to just about anyone.
Students here first get their feet wet with Discover Scuba, a class that teaches the absolute basics of diving. Anyone inspired to delve further can enroll in a PADI certification course that starts in classrooms and heated pools before voyaging out to the open waters of Balmorhea State Park or The Blue Lagoon scuba park. Specialized advanced courses are also available for anyone interested in rescue diving, digital underwater photography, or joining an improv group run by clown fish.
Gene Estes suspects that growing up in the "dry" precinct of Abilene, Texas, may have inspired his alcohol-based ingenuity; he crafted his first batch of wine from Concord grape juice when he was just 23. Years later, after holding various pharmaceutical jobs and putting to use his Masters in Microbiology, Estes's interest in wine re-emerged with a full and passionate force. Today, as the president and vintner of Lost Oak Winery, Gene works alongside resident winemaker Jim Evans to craft a host of award-winning wines. Among them is the 2012 Viognier, which scored a double gold in the renowned San Francisco Chronicle International Wine competition?meaning all five judges awarded the varietal with top scores before gilding the bottle twice in molten gold.
The winery itself offers both guided and self-guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the wine-making process complete with samples straight from oak barrels. Additionally, special events draw guests to the lush grounds for live music, wine club events, and the pre-Christmas holiday open house, where they can place preemptive wine orders with Santa.
When Birgit and Bruce Anderson first purchased their 2-acre property in Burleson, Texas, the new surroundings where they grew vegetables and raised farm animals reminded them of the then-popular television show Little House on the Prairie. The couple—who originally trained as a tax agent and sociology professor—and their daughters farmed the land for several years before a 1995 trip to Napa Valley seduced them into the vineyard lifestyle. After 10 years of studying grape-growing and winemaking, the Andersons opened Sunset Winery, which they've nicknamed and trademarked "The Best Little Wine House in Texas."
Since opening, the late-blooming winemakers have established themselves by winning multiple prizes for their wines and drawing a steady stream of visitors each year. Sunset's lauded bottles include Moon Glow merlot and Twilight Tango malbec, the latter of which won top accolades at the 2009 GrapeFest People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic, edging out other malbecs and a chagrined Susan Lucci.