The experienced instructors at USA Scuba instruct fledgling divers in the art of underwater exploration through introductory scuba-diving classes. Before earning their sea legs in the nearby springs, pupils slip into the provided diving gear as aquatic experts explain how to properly use the equipment to breathe while submerged and emit sonar signals to locate underwater Waldos. Students then take to the springs to apply freshly learned techniques for 30 minutes, first in the shallow portion and then in deeper waters. The accommodating trainers assist scuba students at every step of their aqueous adventure, facilitating future instruction with a $50 voucher good toward open-water certification.
What do active-duty military members, high-school athletes, brides-to-be, and senior citizens all have in common? Not much, except that each of these kinds of people has gotten fit with M—or, Marketa Hutchison.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Marketa arrived in the U.S. in 2006 and began collecting certifications as a group exercise fitness instructor. She also became a certified personal trainer in order to work more closely with clients. Today, Marketa provides both private and group instruction during Pilates classes and boot camps at Navarre Beach. No matter the setting, Marketa emphasizes body-weight exercises and the use of free weights, never using fancy fitness machines to get clients in shape or hold her spot in line at the bank.
Nimble sages with plenteous stockpiles of chi guide students of all skill levels down the path of mindfulness in classes that seek to promote inner health and self-actualization. The experienced clan of instructors combines forces to lead a schedule of calming, focused classes designed to accommodate all skill levels. Beginners can cut their tensile teeth in Chill classes that prop chakras up on sturdy tripods and review basic postures at an approachable pace. The Activate classes further develop strength and flexibility, while one- or two-hour Yoga Heat sessions spark a purgative inferno with athletic explorations of deep asanas and breathing techniques. A serene, communal studio space helps reduce the effects of stress and assists in cleansing the impurities garnered in spiritual mud-wrestling matches.
The recreational sailors at The Island Watersports maintain a fleet of sea-worthy vessels including safe, stable WindRider trimarans. During four-hour sailing stints, up to four people can pile onto the netted canopies and center cockpit to trade the buildings, highways, and Earth elementals of solid land for the freedom of the sea. One person chosen by the group to guide the craft receives a 15- to 20-minute lesson covering the basics of catching breezes for fuel and operating the foot-pedal steering controls. The tri-pronged craft supports up to 800 pounds, and the fully battened main sail on a rotating mast keeps the ship stable even during fish stampedes. MP3 players can belt out favorite songs when plugged into the boat's audio system, and guests are encouraged to bring along a small cooler filled with seaworthy beverages and snacks. Island Watersports' current sailing season will end in October but may go into November if weather permits and the boats don't get grounded for sneaking out to Make-Out Reef. The Island Watersports reopens for the next season on March 1.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.