The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Though flat and polished to a brilliant gleam, the floor at Miami Beach Ballroom is as much a springboard as it is a dancing surface. Students from the school have taken the steps learned in the ballroom and gone on to compete on some of the biggest stages possible, from the US Grand National finals to the sets of So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Instructors take students step-by-step through the tango, rhumba, salsa, and other popular styles.
Defensive Shooting Instructors' training staff includes Special Forces members, SWAT officials, and intelligence specialists. Drawing from these backgrounds, the highly trained team teaches dozens of public courses that cover everything from pistols to shotguns to hand-to-hand combat. Rather than guiding their students through simple lessons, the instructors run drills that simulate real-world conditions and aim to create safe-yet-intense environments. Depending on the class, they might have groups race through obstacles, run up stairs, or even roll in the dirt. For firearms training, they travel to local ranges and put shooters through repetitive drills focused on speed, accuracy, and consistency. In addition to civilian instruction, Defensive Shooting Instructors designs courses for law enforcement officers, military members, and deploying journalists. Its staff mans a gun shop.
Martin Joo and David Clarke have been fighters for a long time, and also have years of experience in mixed martial arts and fitness training. They decided to take their skills outside the cage by training other fighters to have the skill, fitness, and courage to follow in their footsteps. So they founded Omni Combat Fitness, where classes focus on a broad range of fighting styles as well as fitness techniques. Trainers might combine boxing and jiujitsu in a single class, or move from a plyometric workout to sparring in the ring to teaching the proper technique for launching tomatoes in a food fight.
The two founders of Aquachild Swim School—Scott Launer and Brian Lilburn—came to embrace aquatic education through disparate means. When Scott took his then 2-year-old daughter, Jaya, to swim lessons, he was amazed to see 10-month-old babies floating on their own and began his journey to becoming a youth swim instructor. Brian, who nearly drowned in a backyard pool as a toddler, learned to love the water rather than fear it after his mom enrolled him in swim lessons. Scotty and Brian now share their life-saving knowledge alongside a staff of instructors that are all certified in water safety, first aid, and CPR.
Through Aquachild Swim School’s specially designed lessons, infants as young as 10 months learn to roll from facedown positions to back floats where they can breathe easily, and 1-year-old students begin to swim with their heads down, then twist onto their backs for air. As kids progress, they learn the four major strokes (front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly), brush up on the basics to keep them confident, or start snorkeling. The instructors lead adult lessons to help older students learn how to paddle at pool parties or triumphantly retrieve their boss’s golf ball from a green’s lagoon during corporate outings.
Seven extreme athletes and one Royal Marine banded together to design Spartan Races' intense miles-long courses, each strewn with obstacles to test resilience, stamina, and strength. Clad in event T-shirts, runners collect smudges and stains as they clamber across mud pits, slide unscathed under barbed wire, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as three miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.