High above a lush vineyard, the morning sky brims with creatures of flight: an eagle, a large bumblebee, a pigeon that forgot how to land. These were just some of the sights Airbus Balloon Rides' owner Andy Richardson imagined would greet his future down-gazing passengers. He first fell in love with the roar of a hot air balloon's flame just before entering the second grade, and that passion has driven his dreams ever since. Ten years after buying his first balloon at age 14, Andy now commands a fleet of rainbow-colored balloons that come in standard and specialty shapes. These colorful vessels set the elevated stage for individual flights and tethered rides helmed by Andy and his talented team. Flights lift off at sunrise, in the afternoon, and at sunset, when the low sun paints an orange-red glow over water, fields, and reindeer still stuck on rooftops.
Back on land, Airbus Balloon Rides also educates visitors on hot air balloon creation inside their balloon factory, which welcomes tours. At the end of each tour, the guides lead guests in a champagne or mimosa toast with accompanying hors d'oeuvres, celebrating their skyfaring adventures together.
Paintball Indiana's owner and operator Chris bought his first marker––a PCS Storm––almost 20 years ago. He was hooked from the very first paintball shot, and within five years began refereeing games and designing his own equipment. Six years ago, his passion led him to purchase Paintball Indiana's expansive 20 acres of fields, which revolve around a central defensive castle. Chris now employs his own referees, a staff of young and passionate players that regulates games of speedball, woodsball, or scenario play on the three fields and lobby sofas. Chris' fields also play host to three- and five-man speedball leagues, which help players hone their marksmanship before upcoming tournaments. Large-scale games are de rigueur as well, as Chris and the staff takes down the nets between fields for the Big Game––an event hosting vast armies of players battling across 700 feet of terrain in the hopes of capturing the castle's prized Beanie Baby collection.
Looking for a fresh turn in their respective careers, Joe and Dawn Taylor planted the first grapes at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in 2002. In 2007 they opened the winery, where they sell their wines and swap stories with visitors. Amid 10 acres of expansive grapevines, a timber-frame barn houses the winery and tasting room. While sipping Sleepy Creek's varietals, guests can browse the gift shop, peruse the upstairs art gallery, and sample local cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery and Ropp Jersey Cheese. Above the winery, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations allow visitors to relax amid the countryside and eavesdrop on rumors spreading through the grapevines outside.
Ryan Ketchum was overweight. When he decided to change his lifestyle, however, he held nothing back. In less than a year’s time, he lost 110 pounds and became the athlete he’d always dreamed of being. His dedication impressed lifelong athlete and All-American track and field competitor Wil Fleming, and together they founded Force Fitness & Performance to help others experience similar success.
Now, joined by six other expert trainers, the founders help everyday citizens shed pounds with personal training and boot camps. They also help competitive athletes improve their performance through functional motion training, which cuts unnecessary movements such as lifting the knees too high when running or clicking one’s heels when taking jump shots.
Function. That's what CrossFit is all about. And that's what got Shaun and Jenna Tieman so hooked on the method that they decided to open Hoosier CrossFit. During classes, CrossFit's system of constantly varied movements are performed at a high intensity. Because the movements are functional, they increase agility, speed, and power while readying participants for all manner of physical activity. Classes rely on tools such as gymnastics rings and bumper plates instead of machines, ensuring that the body is doing all the work. To initiate the uninitiated, instructors start all beginners out with On-Ramp classes, which familiarize exercisers with CrossFit basics.