Surrounded by brick walls and serene statues, a small group follows an instructor, moving together through poses both comforting and challenging. The Yoga Alliance–certified teachers offer hands-on corrections and encouragement to all their students during moves that range from gentle hip openers in the beginning Bliss class to balance-testing headstands in the eclectic Yoga Blend class. In addition to their regular classes, instructors also lead workshops designed to appeal to all sorts of students, covering such subjects as yoga and creative writing, aerial yoga, and body wisdom, which teaches students to listen to their bodies and then forget any crazy-person mumbling they hear.
With a successful career as a golfer and a coach that earned him a 2011 induction into the U.S. Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, Mike Stevens draws from a lifetime of experience to foster golf-game improvement in his clients. Mike’s custom, six-week golf training program—the flagship curriculum for his On Target Golf Schools—uses a biomechanics-based understanding of the golf swing to help students hit the ball farther and straighter without having to sell their soul for a corked 3-wood. Mike enhances lessons with the competitive insight gleaned from his continued success in tournaments, including a 2011 victory at the Copperhead Cup in Tarpon Springs. In addition to his six-week course, Mike offers clinics designed for kids and one-on-one lessons for those who want more private counseling.
Safari Wilderness Ranch's exotic wetland animals freely roam 260 acres of grassy plains, girded by an 850-square-mile watershed. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America and licensed by the USDA, the ranch is an agritourism project dedicated to teaching about endangered species through hands-on safaris. Wandering zebra and watusi-cattle herds coexist harmoniously with waterbuck and lost cable guys as explorers ride by on trucks, horse-drawn carts, and camels. An outdoor aviary flutters with nearly 100 colorful, playful budgie parakeets who will munch millet seeds from the palm of a hand, and a lemur habitat allows guests to feed the ring-tailed primates grapes.
Fresh paintballs delivered each week splatter on first-time players and tournament competitors on Central Florida Paintball's 12 courses sprawled across 22 acres. Experienced players prep for tournament play on one of six flat-grass airball fields decorated with inflatable barriers. Staff members rebuild these X-ball and speedball-style fields every two weeks to improve the health of the bahia grass and switch up the terrain. With limited protection, these faster-paced airball fields force teams to work together and move as a unit as they attempt to outlast the competition.
Recreational players attack and defend on 12 acres of woodsball courses equipped with a two-story fort as well as larger huts. Stone structures invite players to duck inside for a breather, and crowd of trees affords a sliver of protection and a place to spy the coming ambush. Though both fields are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the woodsball fields are available Wednesday–Friday to groups 10 with a reservation. Guests can stalk each other at night on lighted fields equipped for evening play or retire for the evening to overnight campgrounds with fire pits perfect for making popcorn seasoned with unspent paint capsules.
The Alafia River slowly flows along the edge of Misty Farms, where 15 acres of woodsy terrain serve as an idyllic training ground for horses and their owners. As steeds sleep in 12'x12' matted stalls or search for misplaced lottery tickets in the fenced-off grass jumping fields, the staff of trainers teaches lessons that foster camaraderie between riders and mounts with topics ranging from basic care to more complicated jumps and show maneuvers. Outside the paddocks, visitors hop on the saddle for trail rides along the river, enjoying the slow gait of a quiet trek in the woods or a speedy gallop of a train-robbery getaway.
The crew at Kayak Valet has one mission: to get more people out and enjoying the local waterways and scenery via kayak or paddleboards. Since storing, hauling, unloading, reloading, and potty training their own kayaks can deter people from boating, the team sets up shop to cancel out such deterrents. They take care of nearly every task, bringing all equipment necessary for a leisurely paddle on puddles of all sizes right to the launch site. Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee Counties are popular launch sites that the crew will pick up and deliver equipment to. Keeping the experience accessible, the shop rents only kayaks and paddleboards that can be piloted by anyone, experienced or not. Additionally, they give aquatic adventurers tips on paddling and safety techniques and sell new kayaks, paddleboards, and accessories.