For nearly a decade, the nationally certified instructors at ATA Family Martial Arts have taught students how to block, strike, and kick in a series of self-defense patterns. Classes for kids as young as 4 focus on coordination, listening skills, and confidence, and adult-geared classes teach sparring and weapons training.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
SkateStart owner Patrick O'Toole started his skating career as many people do: by falling down constantly while skating a faulty board. He wanted to spend time with his skateboarding cousins, so his father bought him a generic, unresponsive deck from a big-box store. It barely rolled and always cancelled their playtime last minute to watch soap operas. His junky equipment and lack of knowledge kept him from keeping up with his peers. It wasn't until his father surprised him with a safe, professional skate set that his cousins finally slowed down and began teaching him the ins and outs of thrashing cement waves.
Now in his 20s, Patrick makes it his professional mission to teach the next generation of skaters the proper techniques they need to enjoy the sport. He and his team of certified instructors use his patent-pending skateboard system that shows beginners where to place their feet to push off, perform an ollie, and avoid tripping a board's self-destruct countdown. In addition to imparting fundamental skills, their lessons also build up the confidence necessary to tackle more complex maneuvers.
PlanetSwim founder and owner Stephan's life is a timeline of aquatic achievements, containing awards that he won as a competitive swimmer as well as several teaching titles—lifeguard trainer and Red Cross–certified swim instructor among them. At PlanetSwim, Stephan holds his staff to similar standards. Each teacher has a minimum of five years of swim-instruction experience and has also been Red Cross–certified. Together, the team channels its knack for tutelage into swim lessons for children and adults of all ages in indoor, heated pools, including the one in Louisville, which is filled with warm water to encourage students to get in.
PlanetSwim's philosophy centers around personal attention, an element that demands small class sizes and a supportive atmosphere. Whether they are leading a 10-minute lesson for a water-shy toddler or an intermediate course on different strokes, the instructors monitor their pupils closely to ensure both comfort and development of technique.
As a teenager, Master Mauricio Zingano studied under members of Brazilian jujitsu's founding family, the Gracies, including Grand Master Helio Gracie himself. Nowadays, at Zingano Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he and his seasoned staff—which includes his wife, UFC fighter Cat Zingano—relay the Gracie family's teachings to students young and old. Although their main program is Brazilian jujitsu, they also fit mixed martial arts, muay thai kickboxing, and youth martial arts classes into the jam-packed schedule.