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.
Fanny Kerwich, Lone Star Circus’s founder and current creative director, was born with the circus in her blood. An eighth-generation member of a renowned French circus family, she has been performing since age 6, delighting international audiences at Paris’s Lido and Moulin Rouge, Germany’s Circus Roncalli, and San Francisco’s Teatro ZinZanni.
Fanny’s performing experience and artistic vision now guide the nonprofit Lone Star Circus, which is a two-branched operation. Its performance troupe’s grace and athleticism shine during shows such as the upcoming winter spectacle, Cirque Banquisté. The circus’s school hosts classes for youngsters and adults, teaching them how to swing from trapezes, scale silks, and contort their frames so they can more accurately pantomime what Gumby would look like during a high-speed car chase.
Crisscrossed with more than 100 boulder problems and 60 climbing routes at any one time, the 14,000 square feet of indoor climbing space at Dallas Rocks offers a challenging workout for everyone from expert climbers to those who have never seen a rock. Climbing walls reach up to 35 feet, and the “Big Tex” bouldering wall challenges experienced climbers with 120 linear feet of 70-degree overhang. Split down the middle between bouldering and route climbing, the climbing area is constantly being refreshed with new routes and problems, delighting members but rankling anyone who has to take the routes every morning on the way to work.
To accommodate fitness-seekers looking for variety in their workouts, the rock shop boasts a fitness center filled with free weights, heavy bags, stationary bikes, and exercise machines. Additionally, experienced personal trainers can help patrons plan a workout strategy designed specifically to enhance their rock climbing or skyscraper scaling.
Gondola Adventures sets quartets afloat on the Mandalay Canal and Lake Carolyn for a melodious aquatic outing spiced with Venetian charm. After boarding a sleek, electric craft or traditional single-oar gondola, wayfarers skim the water's surface to the tune of their gondolier's private serenade or the soothing softness of prerecorded romantic tunes. Gourmet chocolates and cider nourish tummy butterflies as the ship glides into sheltered inlets with views of cascading falls—a cue for sweethearts to lock lips and for wooden figureheads to shield their eyes and giggle. As the lake-top explorations wind down, the gondolas skate back to the docks along the unshared waterways, allowing guests to enjoy total solitude aside from the occasional patrol craft or stork addicted to peek-a-boo.
As part of a premiere PADI five-star National Geographic instructor-development center, International Scuba’s team trains underwater explorers in a variety of courses that range from snorkeling and skin diving to open-water and rescue diving. The heated, indoor salt-water pool accommodates divers from ages 8 and older, and equipment packages ensure all students are outfitted for their dives. Beyond the student level, divers can also earn their master scuba-diver certification, thus becoming teachers themselves.
Students who master any of these levels can then elect a related specialty allowing them to dive under the ice, discover underwater wrecks, snap photographs of marine life, and help protect coral reefs from predatory plastic bags. Students who have completed their desired level of training but want to venture forth with a group can also participate in a trip diving in locations abroad and in 30 rivers, quarries, and beaches in and around Texas.