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.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
At Fired Up Fishing Charters, US Coast Guard–licensed captains Chris Cameron and Kyle Larson outfit anglers to catch fish such as mahi-mahi, tarpon, sailfish, and more Atlantic-dwelling species. Their 29-foot boat comfortably accommodates up to four fishermen or five passengers for eco and sightseeing tours and is equipped with twin Yamaha 200-horsepower motors, radar, GPS unit, freshwater shower, and restroom.
Growing up, Bryan Snell was something of a wunderkind. Since his first foray into scuba diving at the age of 6, he hasn't looked back, gaining a master-diver certification while working as an EMT and firefighter. But his heart has always been in scuba diving, and after gaining his PADI instructor certification, he realized his dream by opening Below H2O Scuba Diving Academy.
He and his staff teach both beginner and advanced scuba classes on subjects ranging from open-water certifications to specialized deep or enriched-air diver certifications. Bryan also leads students on sojourns to local diving hotspots and really deep puddles for practice. He even trains master divers, teaching them advanced skills through rescue and emergency-first-response courses.
Donning armor of red, purple, and gold, Orlando City has established itself as one of the USL Pro’s most dominant teams, winning USL Pro championships in 2011—its inaugural season—and 2012. After their second championship, the squad’s success attracted the attention of the MLS’s Sporting Kansas City, who will serve as Orlando City’s parent squad for two years, beginning with the 2013 season.
The first thrill at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum begins in the parking lot. As visitors walk toward the front door, they are greeted with the seemingly precarious sight of a building that slopes into the ground. The illusion is all for show, but the wide-eyed stares continue once guests enter the museum and begin to peruse the 16 galleries of artifacts and oddities from around the globe.
Inspired by the eclectic collection of cartoonist, world traveler, and renowned eccentric Robert Ripley, the museum's galleries are an ode to the unusual. The exhibits feature jaw-dropping displays, including a real shrunken head, a 25-foot mural of Jimi Hendrix made from more than 8,500 playing cards, and wax replicas of famous figures and candles throughout history. Seeing is believing, and the museum remains open 365 days a year, encouraging patrons to experience a small sampling of the world's most bizarre relics and stories.
Since 1986, Windermere has welcomed sultans of swing to relax and hone their skills with friends and family in a sophisticated, yet relaxed country-club atmosphere. The course recently finished a complete cosmetic makeover, renovating the greens, bunkers, driving range, and clubhouse with fresh bermuda-grass seed. Originally designed by Ward Northrup, the 18-hole, par 72 championship course caters to handicaps of all levels with 6,558 yards of meticulously manicured fairways, making it one of the newest and most handsome semiprivate clubs in the area. Thirteen holes border lakes, and 63 strategically placed bunkers challenge experienced golfers and give amateurs multiple chances to supplement their income with hidden sand dollars.