Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Each time Captains DJ McCabe and Byron Hicks lead a sailing lesson, smiles of familiarity cross their faces at the sight of students' widening eyes as the sails catch wind and glide the boat across Lake Monroe. In the silence of the 9,406-acre freshwater lake, sailors can catch glimpses of rare wildlife as the vessel drifts past bathing manatees, soaring herons, and bald eagles snatching each other's toupees. A range of lessons taught by United States Coast Guard captains acquaint aspiring sailors with the trusty rigs, and more advanced students can sign up for certification courses, which follow ASA teaching curriculums to instill safe and steadfast sailing skills. Stationed adjacent to Monroe Harbour Marina, U-Sail of Central Florida keeps a fleet of 14 boats ranging from 13 feet to 30 feet long and lavishes sailors on land with amenities such as abundant parking, wireless Internet, showers, and laundry machines.
A 200-foot man-made alligator flashes his brace-free grin as visitors pass through the gates of Jungle Adventures' lush wilderness to meet the myriad creatures that call it home. From exhibit to exhibit, rare beasts including Florida panthers, black bears, tropical birds, and wolves exchange salutations with their visitors. Knowledgeable experts navigate jungle terrain during guided tours and VIP adventure tours, and at live exhibitions, such as the Gator Jamboree Feeding Adventure, experienced handlers coax shy critters from their hiding places. The park also explores the area's human history in replicas of a 16th-century Spanish fort and Native American village, where authentic recreations of ancient artifacts, decorations, and brick-sized cell phones shed light on lifestyles from centuries ago.
Although it was the burst of light from a Polaroid flash bar that initially drew Aubrey James to the photo world, the photographer prefers to work with her subjects in natural light. During shoots, she follows couples, children, and families through the park or along the beach, capturing a sense of fun and relaxation that simply cannot be replicated in the studio. After sessions, Aubrey retouches images and provides clients with the option to purchase prints or digital images that can be shared with grandparents who live in the Internet now.
Family is important to the purveyors of Platinum Gym. So, while their members break a sweat on Precor cardio and strength machines, the kids can remain nearby and safe in the onsite kid's club. The gym is so family-friendly, in fact, that kids 10 years and up can use the equipment when supervised and join their parents during a select number of group classes.
Speaking of classes, the 16,000 square foot health club offers instruction in workouts such as Zumba, yoga, kickboxing, and spin. And, members can also pamper their weary muscles with massage therapy or highlight their hard work by bronzing newly buff bodies in tanning beds and booths.
Energizing beats fuel each furious workout at F.I.R.M. Fitness Camp as groups move together to shave off pounds and shape stronger bodies. Certified personal trainers start fresh each day with a new workout that employs dumbbells, jump ropes, and the Lebert Equalizer to keep heart rates pumping while building muscle mass. Unlike other boot camps, the trainers motivate through positive reinforcement rather than by yelling at clients or leaving passive-aggressive post-it notes on their fridges. Additionally, each energy-boosting session is held indoors, so students need not worry about sessions being canceled due to rain.
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