Sips n Strokes gifts paintbrush-wielding neophytes the tools and confidence to create, with a mélange of masterpiece-making tutorials and a bring-your-own-beverage policy. Artists can elect a class from the shop's calendar to hone the painting style that best complements their home, office, or neighbor's windshield, including picks of imagery from Parisian scenes to funky roosters. Each course, led by an instructor well versed in the trade, pairs well with the liquid inspiration of each student's choosing. Silence-seeking artists or easily corruptible mimes may opt for an afternoon or weeknight session, as the weekends generally garner 20 to 50 rowdy rookies.
The thrilling courses at Daredevil Ziplines were originally built for the adrenaline junkies on the finale of the action series The Controller: Medal of Honor Warfighter. Happy shrieks now spiral out from members of the general public as they hit the 50 mile-per-hour speeds experienced by the stars of the show. The Dare Ya! ride whisks participants downhill for 600 feet before being stopped abruptly on the bungee braking system, which then sends them whipping out over a lake and stopping gently. They then glide down among sweet-smelling pine boughs and make a soft landing.
The Aerial Challenge combines a zipline with an aerial obstacle course, including a suspended log walk, ladders, a swinging bridge and platform, and rope walks. Riders can end the challenge with a short walk to a bridge overlooking the Tuck spring, which flows from the roots of a century old oak tree. Streams babble above and below the ground, carving the limestone into organic-looking curlicues covered with moss and ferns like somebody who won?t get off the Jurassic Park ride.
Spanning 4,000 square feet, the climbing surfaces at First Avenue Rocks mimic the natural textures of the abundant local sandstone boulder terrain. One hundred varied climbing routes up to 17 feet high greet climbers who choose to ascend by bouldering without ropes on angled walls and roofs dotted with challenging foot-and handholds or on the facility?s ropes courses. For safety, the facility positions its vertical terrain above the floor?s 10-inch-deep Asana pads for soft landings in the event of missed holds or misguided urges to fly. Instructors are available to prep students of all ages and ability levels to tackle the gym's terrain, teaching three stages of introductory climbing courses and two advanced lead-climbing courses.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Campus Recreation Center opens its doors to the community, encouraging fit-seekers of all ages to get active. The all-inclusive 150,000-square-foot facility has it all: swimming pools, cardio and weight-training equipment, aerobics studios, and an indoor track. For those who like to mix calorie burning with friendly competition, the site also hosts basketball, racquetball, badminton, and volleyball courts; an indoor soccer and floor hockey field; and even a climbing wall. Kids aren't left out of the fun, either. The center hosts kids' day camps, packed with athletic activities and arts and crafts, and welcomes youths to imitate mountain goats on the rock wall or play racquetball in the supervised Kid Zone.
The Robertson family exemplifies the unifying power of family fitness. While parents Mark and Melissa manage Ascension Climbing's incoming clients, their three kids—Grace, Caleb, and Zeke—provide one-on-one training in the art of scaling mountainsides or the gum-studded underside of a giant's desk. Grace, who formerly coached college climbing teams, transfers her expertise to competitive clients during one-on-one lessons at one of 18 ropes. Zeke oversees the littlest ones at Ascension’s climbing walls and two bouldering caves, and Caleb fills in the schedule with lessons on climbing safety and technique.
As a tightly knit, climbing-savvy family, the Robertsons hope to strengthen the bonds of other clans through Ascension Climbing’s many activities. They invite families to climb and boulder together during events and trips. They also host groups and parties, spreading their love of climbing through chaperoned events and overnight lock-ins.