Prior to founding Serene Acres Riding Center, chief instructor Pamela Smith lived in Great Britain for 15 years, during which time she earned a place in the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools. It's only natural then that she offers English horseback riding lessons on the 40 acres of Virginia countryside where she now lives. She—along with deputy instructors Ann, Olivia, and Nelly—teaches group and private lessons that produce balanced and effective riders. Her method of accomplishing this involves emphasizing the proper foundations of riding—posture and balance—from the very beginning of training, as opposed to letting students get ahead of themselves by jumping over course obstacles or trotting across tile floors littered with ball bearings.
The colorful walls of Bella Ballerina’s studio echo with the patter of little feet springing across the wood floors. Classes welcome tiny dancers aged 18 months to 10 years, with ballet barres only a couple of feet off the ground and story time at the beginning of each session. The teachers, all professional dancers with years of performing and teaching experience, lead their students through basic ballet moves while sprinkling in jazz and tap. In addition to the classes, Bella Ballerina also hosts birthday parties that combine the things kids love: cupcakes, ballet, goodie bags, and another day lived without meeting whatever lives under the bed.
Augustine Golf Club's award-winning course was sculpted to reflect its natural beauty with its distinctive par 4s sculpted by course architect, Rick Jacobson. Although the greens at Augustine declined for a few years, recent renovations have restored the course to its former glory, once again luring golfers to its babbling streams and forest. Farther north, rivals Augustine's sister course, Raspberry Falls. Course architect Gary Player remarked that the Falls, once an 18th-century plantation, “was made for a golf course.” Inspired by this ideal setting, he dreamed up the links-style course at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, whose meandering brooks, stone walls, and stacked-sod bunkers evoke Scotland, while its vista of the Catoctin Mountains remind players they’re in Virginia.
These golf havens have more than picturesque views in common—they are two of six award-winning courses united by Raspberry Golf Management’s portfolio, which stretches from Virginia to Pennsylvania and skips over to Arizona. Gary Player’s design team for Raspberry Falls included Tim Freeland, who went on to design two of the firm’s other courses: Royal Manchester Golf Links, whose bentgrass fairways sidle up to the Susquehanna River, and Old Hickory Golf Club, a parkland-style course crisscrossed by Beaver Creek. The management company's other gems include The Legacy Golf Resort, where cowboys used to ride their rocking horses around a 7,500-acre ranch, and Bull Run Golf Club, which sprawls across more than 450 acres of meadows and woodlands at the foot of the Bull Run Mountains.
Dance King Studios owner Adam King leads his instructors in tutoring feet to move to the rhythms of salsa, bachata, tango, and swing. But his rug-cutting team doesn't simply teach students how to dance?the studio also hosts parties that encourage dancers to socialize as they show off their skills in a low-stress setting free of hecklers or trapdoors. The team also helps wedding-bound couples find their footing for first dances. Adam told Leesburg Today that he loves putting nervous pairs at ease. ?Most people say they have two left feet, but I'm about overturning those ideas,? he said. ?Anybody can learn to dance, it's a matter of giving yourself a chance.?
Gap Spring Farm's family-focused environment suits its main clientele: children. From an early age, kids can visit the farm and learn the basics of walking, trotting, and galloping during group or private lessons. The farm's stables are open to horses of all shapes and sizes, and its summer-camp program provides a safe introduction to riding, grooming, and kissing ponies. Once students have learned the reins, they can show off their skill in one of the farm's horse shows, which are scheduled three or four times a year.
A 36-month-old strokes his arms through clear water as his mother gently holds him afloat with her hands. Over the past few swim sessions, the little student has learned to submerge his face in the water and float on his belly as well as his back. After he and his fellow swimmers finish their parent/baby swimester, it's likely they may never experience the fear of swimming that many children begin to encounter around age 3. This type of insight into the developmental importance of swimming is what informs the instruction at Swim-U, Leesburg's child-oriented swimming school. The school's curriculum opens its lessons to newborns as young as 6 months old and to kids up to age 12 to instill water skills and the joys of fitness swimming from a young age. The Swim-U team comprises upbeat swimming professors who are the brains behind the company's special brand of instruction in swimming, as well as in child CPR and first-aid training and dunk-tank pitching.