Blue Water Ventures owner and naturalist Kim Powell and her trained staff of naturalists lead adventurous groups on tours of trails and waterways from the East Bay of California to San Jose's Elkhorn Slough, exploring caves, forests, and wildlife-rich areas on the way. On protected Elkhorn Slough, groups of up to 20 make their way on stable kayaks as their attentive tour guides give rich history of the area and point out wildlife including seals and sea otters. In Florida's Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, groups snorkel and canoe to observe wild west indian manatees and their notorious poker habits.
The company also does specialty tours for school groups that include tide-pooling adventures and trekking through a redwood forest to see some of the country's oldest trees. Tours for women-only groups include private cruises where ladies can spy whales and a variety of seaborne wildlife, including fish, dolphins, and long-lost swim fins.
Tucked into the tranquil foothills of Mount Madonna, BellaMar Training Stables and Riding School educates students of all abilities either inside one of two arenas or on the airy stretches of the facility's many trails. Head instructors Elizabeth and Edie guide riders through every level of equitation—Edie assists entry-level riders with their hunter/jumper proficiency and Elizabeth instructs more advanced students on the styles of dressage and eventing.
New riders begin with private lessons, during which they learn such skills as correct position, grooming, and cleaning tack. Private lessons also maintain an overarching focus on good sportsmanship, emphasizing both respect as well as the importance of never spiking a helmet after a flawless trot. As riders improve, they can then move on to semiprivate or group lessons.
When Forest Roberts was 9 years old, he built a boat in his backyard with money saved from his paper route. Since 1989, Roberts has participated more officially in the maritime industry, working water-related jobs from commercial diving to boat building—and often living aboard boats—before opening his sailing-charter company in 2006. Today, California Classic Sail operates from Santa Cruz on the shores of Monterey Bay, earning praises from previous passengers and a Santa Cruz Sentinel feature story.
Roberts’s background in the building industry helped him recognize the superb craftsmanship in his current yacht, Sarah. The builder, William Garvie—who named the vessel after his granddaughter—constructed the 52-foot-long boat based on a line drawing published in an early 20th-century yachting-magazine spread. Made of wood instead of the fiberglass many modern boats are made of, its vintage style and wood hull set it apart from other Santa Cruz charter vessels. Dubbed a “Sharpie” for its long, narrow shape, rather than an ability to leave permanent wakes, the graceful yacht zips through the bay waters on chartered trips for groups of up to six. Passengers can relax onboard as Roberts steers, or choose to learn basic sailing maneuvers through hands-on instruction. Roberts can also tailor trips to special occasions such as engagements and birthdays, and can sail during many times of day, including more-scenic mornings and sunsets.
A member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, Rick Kepler imparts hard-won racket tactics to help players of all abilities improve their game. Receive Kepler’s sage serve, volley, and groundstroke wisdom in a one-person private lesson, or opt to learn alongside a fellow athlete in a two-person tutorial. Beginners can learn the basic low-to-high groundstroke mechanics, and more advanced acers may dedicate a constructive hour to topspin lobs, pinpoint passing shots, serve-and-volley strategy, or how to hypnotize ball boys. Situated south of Santa Cruz, Seascape Sports Club’s tennis complex boasts 12 regulation tennis courts, including a clay court, seven lighted courts, and a stadium center court.
When students arrive for class at Aptos Yoga, they’ll see standard mats and blocks, but they’ll also find props that might surprise them: blankets. That’s because the instructors adhere strictly to a therapeutic brand of yoga where blankets support posing pupils. The staff’s chief aim is to release deep tensions in the body's spinal muscles, and for total body relaxation along with mental clarity.
Helping guests feel comfortable is Body Zone Health & Fitness Club's main concern. The center has a variety of checks in place to make sure that new customers are given the guidance they need to get the most out of the gym. To help them, personal trainers are paired with newcomers during their first month of membership, working together to figure out what each guest's body needs. Once oriented, guests can work out on their own or in a group, choosing from a lengthy list of group fitness classes that range from total body conditioning, salsa, fit after 50, and stress-reduction yoga classes. To make sure that current members are also taken care of, Body Zone offers a variety of amenities such as childcare, massage, and nutrition.
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