At Jewelry Creations Workshop, carrying a torch for someone doesn't mean you have a crush on them—it means you're actually holding a torch for them while they tie their hair back and prepare to solder pieces of hand-made jewelry together. Named Best Jewelry Maker by the Miami New Times in 2013, the workshop team teaches wide-ranging techniques, from the aforementioned soldering to fold forming and enameling. Owner Steven Brownlee, who leads many of the sessions, has more than a decade of experience in the craft and uses it to teach cutting-edge techniques as well as the basics. In his introductory workshop, students get more than three hours to practice the fundamentals and craft a simple silver ring ideal for spontaneously proposing to a classmate.
Since 1974, Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers' dedicated instructors have edified spa and salon hopefuls in the tricks of the beauty-boosting trade. Under the watchful eye of a seasoned professional, each soon-to-be beautician performs a variety of services on visitors to earn the certification of a license massage therapist or the gilded epaulettes of an aesthetician. At both the Hollywood and Miami Beach locations, clients can help students achieve their goals by simply indulging in rejuvenating facials, stylish cuts and colors, and relaxing rubdowns.
Maria T. Cummins was already an established chef when she moved to Miami and began teaching an after-school cooking program for children. Struck by how little her students knew about nutrition, she founded The Real Food Academy?formerly Cooking With Kids Miami?to instill healthy eating habits in her young apprentices. Here, she and her fellow skilled instructors lead classes and activities based around one simple philosophy: "we don't change the dish, we change the ingredients." During group sessions, birthday parties, and camps, Chef Maria and her team teach youngsters how to choose and prepare more nutritious, "real" foods, ensuring they avoid meals that are high in preservatives, chemicals, and plastic grapes. Non-edible offerings, such as spa days and kid-centric Zumba classes, promote healthy lifestyles.
Oscar Ochoa's passion for salsa dancing sprouted at age 9, grew rapidly at age 18 when he began taking formal lessons, and blossomed at age 24 when he won first place at a salsa competition. Today, the founder of Miami Salsa Driven combines his dancing expertise with the physical discipline he's developed from years of practicing tae kwon do and Brazilian jujitsu to lead detail-oriented salsa lessons. His team puts a big emphasis on creating an environment in which beginners feel welcome and unintimidated by advanced dancers trying to show off complex moves, such as the iceless triple axel. Students have ranged from seasoned dancers to a first-timer police-department captain, who actually ended up joining a professional dance team. Located inside the Tempo Music and Dance Academy, Miami Salsa Driven's classes focus on improving students' self-confidence and fitness levels with hands-on instruction and practice. One of the studio's walls is completely covered in full-length mirrors, allowing dancers to adjust their posture to match the instructor's or enjoy uninterrupted eye contact with themselves.
Wind-leashed high-flier and Skybanditz founder Francisco Escudero has blown spectators away at such competitions as the Velocity Games and the Bahamas kite race. He is the North Miami Beach area coordinator of the Florida Kitesurfing Association and founder of Skybanditz, where he and his trained staff conduct all manner of surf- and sky-borne expeditions. They outfit maritime adventurers with all the proper kiteboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding gear, as well as lead kayak tours through Marine Stadium and several small islands. They also give guests the option to explore the high seas on their own or with friends. Instructors, meanwhile, cover safety and proper techniques during kitesurfing programs that range from beginner level to Level X, an echelon they reserve for students who are ultra-advanced or genetically related to flying squirrels.
Extreme athletes banded together to design Spartan Races' intense courses orchestrated over standardized distances, each strewn with natural and man-made obstacles to test mind-body fitness, resilience, stamina, and strength, designed to leave participants exhausted and exhilarated. In waves of 200, runners collect smudges and stains as they perform box jumps, haul heavy sandbags, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as 3 miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.