When Franklin On Foot founder and guide Margie Thessin discusses the Civil War’s impact on Franklin, she shuns dry textbook summaries. Instead, she gathers groups before historic homes and battle sites, and she explains, “The war happened here. The people who lived here, this war was their 9/11. This was their Pearl Harbor.” Suddenly, she sees sets of eyes light up, as minds make the leap from musty tomes and texts to the people who lived—and fought and died—where they now stand 150 years ago.
To make history relevant, Thessin humanizes it, honing in on the famous and lesser-known people who shaped Franklin and the struggles they faced to do so. In that spirit, she seeks out guides who are not only passionate about history, but also possess a natural knack for storytelling.
In keeping with her commitment to orchestrate vivid tours, Thessin conducts them by foot or by bike. “You get so much from a place by walking it instead of looking out a window of a bus—you may as well fly at 32,000 feet,” she says.
Many businesses talk about reducing their carbon footprint, but Nashville B-cycle actually replaces the footprint with bike tire tracks. They do this by hooking up B-cycle members with their fleet of sturdy, modern bikes. More bike riders mean less car emissions, more healthy people, and exactly the same number of moons orbiting the Earth. Determined to make a difference in the community, the bike-sharing company is also partnered with the Nashville Mayor’s office and the Metro Nashville Health Department.
At Bike Link of Hoover, general manager Joe Wenning and his cycling-inclined staff outfit riders with new bicycles and tune up bikes of all brands. Visitors peruse rides from Specialized, Electra, Felt, Raleigh, Cervelo and Redline, all available for onsite test rides and fittings. In the repair shop, technicians optimize bikes with everything from minor break adjustments to complete details and tune-ups, and can even be called upon to clean and wax bikes too shy to bathe outdoors.
Some athletes want to focus on endurance. Others want to unlock their competitive spirit. Still others hope to get their chakra energy flowing. At CycleBar, there's a indoor cycling class for all those goals and more, each with its own light show and music. It's not just any music, either. Class playlists are high-octane, carefully-curated mixes of top 40 hits and indie tracks, starring artists from Iggy Azalea to Phantogram.
Regardless of theme and tunes, all sessions have one key thing in common: high-tech stationary bikes, which the CycleBar team dubs "intelligent." While not quite self-aware enough to be vain about their handlebars' symmetry, the cycles do store each athlete's workout stats, allowing for long-term fitness tracking.
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.
Birmingham Bicycle Company stocks name brand bicycles including Scott, Pinarello, and Jamis, along with a variety of gear including clothing, helmets, racks, and sunglasses. The crew all cycle in their free time, so they can help customers locate the type of equipment they need for racing or leisure. When not selling pedals and helping with bike fitting, the shop sponsors weekly rides for cyclists of all skill levels; check their Facebook page for the schedule.