Roller skating often evokes images of ‘50s-era teens clad in poodle skirts and the black-and-white makeup that was customary at the time. But at both freshly renovated Sparkles Family Fun Centers, roller-skating proves itself as a 21st-century pastime by incorporating contemporary technology. From a DJ who spins family-friendly beats at both locations to the laser-tag zone and black lights that set the Gwinnett rink aglow, modern-day touches pervade each space. The arcades are stuffed with extra helpings of bells and whistles; skee-ball and electronically scored basketball compete for attention with racing video games that re-create famous auto duels or the 1954 Drake Relays. At nearby multistory indoor playgrounds, kids get back to physical recreation, scurrying across bridges and whipping down slick slides.
Rich purple walls and a bar outfitted with a zebra-print façade sounds more like club decor than the decor of a school. For the past 20 years, however, the National Bartending School of Atlanta has put on mixology clinics in just this kind of lounge-style setting. At its six learning stations, teachers train professional bartenders during hands-on certification courses that cover more than 100 drink recipes, as well as eclectic topics such as free pouring or the art of making a cocktail from whatever falls down a waterfall. Alternatively, students can dabble in the art of cocktail creation during two-hour, noncertification courses, which focus on classic drinks such as the cosmo and the margarita.
Informed by an ever-growing body of developmental research, classes at The Music Class introduce tots to tunes and concepts that boost creativity and listening skills. In Music Pups (a $72 value) courses, children under 4 years of age gleefully sing, dance, and bang away on rudimentary instruments such as the drums or theremin. Four and 5-year-olds learn concepts of tone and rhythm in the Music Cats course (a $77 value), which lets kids experiment with keyboards before defending their dissertations on the narrative redundancies of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Each 45-minute course meets four times in one month-long segment, and includes CDs for parents to play at home to follow up on in-class tutelage. This Groupon may also be used toward The Music Class' ten-week music courses.
Head Instructor Jim McKinley calls upon his certifications as a Level 3 United States Golf Teachers Federation Instructor and US Army Master Fitness Trainer to help students take control of their swings and improve their scores. Jim starts lessons by assessing a player’s grip, posture, and alignment at setup, which are the building blocks of a tasty stew and a fundamental golf swing. Teachers and pupils then focus on the mechanics of the swing, with the students performing drills and exercises that help remedy problem areas. Students may also use training aides to lock in muscle memory so that the muscles learn the different benefits of swinging and twirling the club. Jim understands that while stance and swing mechanics can be addressed on the driving range, the less tangible aspects of club selection and golf-course management cannot. He helps students with these principles by playing a round with them, and offers a 50% refund to any student who can beat him.
The current of the Chattahoochee River becomes a natural playground with the help of Paddle Pusher, which rents out vessels for aquatic exploration. The company’s fleet of kayaks includes standard and inflatable single-person kayaks for those looking to traverse the river, as well as tandem kayaks ideal for couples trying to tame the rugged outdoors or sasquatch owners trying to reintroduce their pet into the wild. All kayak rentals include paddles, and for an additional $5, Paddle Pusher also rents out helmets, life vests, and waterproof bags for valuables.
Resolute Spirit Athletics provides a safe and structured environment for children to get fit and explore self-expression through movement. Instructors guide students of all ages through dance classes in styles such as hip-hop and jazz, and lead tumbling classes that cover everything from basic cartwheels to advanced standing full twists. And, for those who wish to compete or just keep their moves fresh in the off-season, the facility also offers cheerleading classes that teach students how to bring pep to any sporting event or traffic court hearing.