Much like professional skydivers, wily coyotes, and other careers that involve a degree of danger, most professional glassblowers aren’t self-taught. Joshua Poll, however, learned to harness the glass furnace all by himself, today imparting more than a decade of self-taught experience to Zen Glass Studios, where he and fellow glass smith David Walker create custom works of art by hand. Together they shape glass into authentic and unique pieces, including custom glassware and jewelry to wear while meeting a spouse’s goldfish for the first time.
Within their studio, Joshua and David teach workshops and classes, during which students survey basic to advanced glass-blowing techniques, crafting their own handmade objects such as ornaments, beer glasses, and vases. The duo also runs a full glassblower training program, which follows a syllabus structured to arm all students with all the necessary skills to set out on their own in the industry, just as Joshua did all those years ago.
Invented in 1999 by fitness instructor Tim Ganley, KaYoga combines two invigorating workouts with beautiful scenery and adventure. KaYoga students embark on a three-hour trip, starting when they slide into a Tim Ganley kayak, then paddle it from Ft. Desoto to one of the pristine nearby barrier islands for an hour of yoga on the beach, which is preferable to yoga in a tar pit. Called "an inspired fusion of pastimes" by the Times of London, KaYoga is as invigorating spiritually as it is physically. On the kayak journey, it's not unusual to encounter dolphins, an occasional manatee, other sea creatures, and celebrities who are preparing for their roles as talking kelp.
The Aveda Institutes are full-service beauty schools where esthiology students work under the supervision of licensed educators, using plant-derived, eco-friendly Aveda products to perform services such as hair styling, waxing, and massages. A haircut ($12–$18) and retouched hair color ($30–$40) chisel and paint a head into a pedestal-worthy work of art, and a relaxer ($68+) soothes strands as tight as a self-doubting horse moments before the Kentucky Derby. Whip skin into creaminess with a 60-minute facial ($40 during nonpeak hours, $60 during peak hours), de-bush brows ($10) and strip underarms ($20) with a waxing, or file, shape, and exfoliate fingers with a 60-minute spa service manicure ($15, $20 with polish change) and 75-minute pedicure ($20, $25 with polish change). Body-wrap treatments and massages ($40 during non-peak hours, $50 during peak hours ) melt away stress like a hot iron pressed against a synthetic-hair wig.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
The trainers at Best Day Fitness Studio have put as much work into their brains as their bodies. Everyone—including the massage therapists—holds a four-year degree in exercise science, which informs group classes and private sessions with each specialist's analytic expertise. Rather than simply counting reps on the sidelines or hiring a metronome to substitute, trainers strive to educate clients so they understand why and how each maneuver works. They also update an online database of articles and tutorials as supplementary reading for their clients. During classes, trainers prioritize slow and focused movements to build functional fitness and challenge participants at an appropriate pace. With extensive knowledge of anatomy and movement, they also teach lessons on minimalist running technique and provide a suite of specialized appointments for clients who seek physical rehabilitation after a stroke.
Using the experiences gained during years as a professional racecar driver and builder, Competition101 Racing School founder Stuart Lycett trains the next generation of podium finishers during one-on-one racing lessons. Whether behind the wheel of stock cars, Trans Am T2 sports cars, sprint cars, or open-wheel cars, pupils soak in on-track experience on dirt tracks, short ovals, speedways, or road circuits while radios and on-board video cameras record every turn for scrutiny during future feedback sessions.
In addition to their introductory class, instructors also offer one-, two-, and three-day school programs. After the three-day program, studious speedsters may complete their training by competing in a sanctioned race event in front of paying spectators and a real checkered flag. Stuart and his crew also welcome interns willing to work for six months in exchange for a free three-day racing school program.