With more than 13,000 divers certified under their tutelage since 1975, Scuba Ventures' instructors, dive-control specialists, and dive masters guide pupils through the three steps toward scuba certification. Students first learn diving and safety fundamentals during classroom training and practice sessions in Scuba Ventures' heated indoor pool. Then teachers whisk them away on two-day open-water training trips to locales such as the Caribbean or Lake Ouachita where, upon successful completion, they earn an open-water certification card and a free back scratch from a puffer fish.
Instructors also teach an array of training courses ranging from spearfishing sessions to lessons in underwater photography. Scuba Ventures also sponsors dive trips throughout the year, which guests can stock up for by renting or purchasing brand-name gear from the shop.
Kiddie Mia's Family Fun Center entertains children of all ages in two joy-filled facilities. High ceilings loom jealously above the bright blue floors where games twinkle happily. One building houses the center's coin-operated arcade, which rewards youngsters with tickets that, unlike an armored piñata, actually yield prizes. Alongside the redemption games, families can quell appetites with pizzas, burgers, and a spaghetti buffet, all awaiting charged up maws at the onsite snack bar. In the adjacent all-you-can-play game room, dozens of kiddie rides occupy young children, who can scamper between Disney-themed attractions such as Mickey's truck and Barney's tractor as parents shout parallel-parking instructions from nearby red and blue picnic tables. Older kids can blast computerized foes on a number of arcade games or coordinate hands and eyes with turns at basketball hoops or air-hockey tables.
Typically, when someone walks into a restaurant and leaves with a piece of artwork it's a misdemeanor. But at café @ artspace it's not just legal, but encouraged—as long as you pay for it. Since the café is attached to artspace—a hub for art exhibitions, poetry readings, and live concerts—there's always a selection of original artworks by regional artists on hand in the gift shop. These creations occupy diners as they wait for one of the café's golf-themed sandwiches or housemade desserts, which they can order from the menu or a chalkboard scrawled with the day's specials. Meals may be prepared to go or enjoyed in the café, where free WiFi allows diners to tweet photos of their silverware.
BeFit founder Haley Young started her own personal-fitness path in high school when she joined her first gym. The thrill of running took root in her and inspired her to complete two full marathons and an ultra-marathon relay. Her drive for fitness only increased through the years as she earned certifications in yoga instruction, Zumba fitness, nutrition coaching, and personal training. Now at the head of her own fitness group, she leads yoga and Zumba classes that help students work toward well-being through practiced breathing exercises and calorie-burning dance steps. She also hosts personal-training sessions for one-on-one exercising, and wellness counseling gives clients information about losing weight and an excuse to stop trying to fit a huge party sub through their front door.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their child’s development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Howard Malpass enjoys sharing the sport of fly fishing with others, whether teaching a course on the subject at Bossier Parish Community College or showing a child how to tie their first fly. At his shop, Gray Wolf Fly Shop, he draws on this passion for teaching during three-hour introductory courses that include hands-on casting practice and basic tips on how to use flies to attract fish rather than attempt to prove spontaneous generation. His expertise also helps him match patrons with Wapsi fly-tying products, sturdy casting rods, and all-terrain gear, such as durable Korkers fishing boots.