David Bullard, Davis Graham, and Gary Stahlhebar manage Texas Dive Center's new facilities with an eye toward equipping divers with everything they need, whether it's education or equipment. The team teaches PADI introductory and certification courses to get the uninitiated diving, and they provide DAN classes to educate rescue divers and equip recreational divers with the skills to keep themselves safe underwater.
In addition to educational classes held in their onsite pool or on open-water excursions, Texas Dive Center joins the ranks of fewer than 50 U.S. dive shops to earn the title of ScubaPro Platinum dealer. They sell top-of-the-line ScubaPro equipment, held to the manufacturer's very stringent standards in terms of stock quality and regular maintenance such as cleaning, functionality checks, and nightly tucks in.
PADI instructor Bob Henry dove in the Caribbean, South America, and other tropical locales, but he always returned to his home base—B & W Dive Co., a scuba shop he founded in 1991. Since the ‘90s, his children Amber and Warren have taken the reins, carrying on their dad’s legacy by organizing dive trips and helping students earn their PADI certifications. The shop’s classes cover topics beyond open water diving, though; they can introduce pupils to scuba basics, such as breathing underwater without trading in their ability to breathe on land, or focus on snorkeling and swimming. Visitors can also outfit themselves for solo underwater journeys with dependable aquatic gear, culled from makers such as Atomic, Oceanic, and Bare.
Trainer and fitness guru Justin Bradshaw modeled Sgt. H2O's Aquatic Boot Camp after the rigorous training he received as an Army diver. Each aquatic session tests fitness practitioners of all ability levels with moves designed to maximize lung capacity, boost swimming speed, and tone the entire body. Water adds extra resistance that amplifies the effects of exercise, and the pool’s gentle gravity proves easy on the joints. Exercisers tackle tasks such as pool sprints, towel swims, treading water with weights, bending submarines over one’s knee, and group exercise drills, as well as aquatic conditioning kicks. In Dallas, Sgt. H2O's personal training programs entitle trainees to attend complimentary boot-camp classes if they complete three hours of personal training per week. An online depository of nutritional advice helps students keep their weight-loss or healthy-living efforts on track.
At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
Mechanized towers stand along the shoreline of Wake Nation Cincinnati's 10-acre lake, steering riders across the water as they grip cables rather than lines attached to boats. Cruising clockwise from the cables, up to seven people at a time can wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard, or waterskate around the aquatic arena at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Wake Nation designed the main lake for everyone from beginners to elite-level riders, and peppered it with manmade obstacles and floating jumps, allowing boarders to zip along and pull off tricks that sometimes aren’t possible behind a boat. They also have a smaller practice lake for beginners and young riders from 5 years old and up.
Experienced staff members observe boarders at all times, supplying safety tips, training, and navigational advice for circumventing Poseidon’s rose bushes. Visitors can bring their own equipment, or rent or buy necessary gear from Wake Nation’s pro shop. A cast of instructors lead lessons and observe riders during freestyle riding, fun summer camps, and special events such as birthday parties.
It’s safe to say Catherine Fox knows her way around a pool. She won an Olympic gold medal for her ability to find her way from end to end. Partnering with Swim Jim owner Jim Spiers, a trainer for 2012 Olympics Bronze medalist Lia Neal, the pair transformed their expertise into a curriculum that helps others learn to love the water as they do. The resulting program, titled the Underwater Schoolhouse, forms the cornerstone of every class held at Swim Jim.
Teachers take on students of all ages, focusing first on helping to cure land dwellers’ inherent nervousness around water. To do this, they use a combination of encouragement and humor, never pushing a student further than they’re willing to go. Once students take the plunge, the coaches focus on teaching the mechanics of a variety of strokes, such as how to kick during breaststroke or how to emerge gracefully from the chrysalis before butterfly stroke.