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Though he has devoted years of intense training to the sport, he never forgets those first challenging trips behind the boat. "I didn't get up the first time," he says, though he was hooked from the beginning. "You can't just settle" with wakeboarding, he says. "It's hard enough to get up. There's always something new to learn, and that's one of the cool things about it."
Motorcycle Racing and Kiteboarding
Jonatan Sredni is an adrenaline junkie who gets his fix from two disparate highs. Kiteboarding is all about chill vibes. "It's just you, the board, and the wind," he says. "The connection to nature is cool." Motorcycle racing, naturally, is about speed.
Kiteboarding is a fickle beast. It requires proficiency with the kite and the board and several skill sets, all working in tandem for things to go correctly. And because South Florida doesn't get many ideal wind days, "You have to drop everything and go when the conditions are right."
Motorcycle racing feeds the gearhead in Sredni. Racing since December 2007, he delights in the highly technical nature of racing, the minor adjustments and alterations, both to his form and to his equipment, that are necessary to compete. "Time stops on a motorcycle," he says. "It's a physical workout, and it's a mental workout."
For the sake of balance, there's a give-and-take with his "opposite" interests. If it's an ideal day for kiteboarding — which he also took up in 2007 — but it happens to be a bike-race weekend, he'll still dutifully get on his bike at the starting line. But if it's just a practice day at the track and the wind is blowing at ten knots or above? He'll kowtow to nature and skip the bike.
Confines are not for Joel Meinholz. He was drawn to skateboarding a quarter-century ago precisely because it was the antithesis of restraint. "It was just something to do without any sort of team or controlled environment," he says. "It's just you and the street."
A pro rider, he's been sponsored for about ten years by MIA Skate Shop, Hopps, Vans, and Independent, among others. He supplements his skateboarding career by throwing parties and events through promoter I Am Your Villain, which hosts skate-culture-friendly throwdowns like magazine-release parties, street-bike rides, and musical events. He doesn't log as much time on a board as he did in the early years, but no day is complete without a few hours of riding.
"Every day is entertaining," he says. "Every day in the streets, you come across something that makes you laugh or smile."
Meinholz moved to South Florida in the mid-'90s — initially, to pursue surfing. "I grew up in the Midwest," he says, "wanting for waves." A Milwaukee native, Meinholz says part of the initial draw of skateboarding was that it gave him something he couldn't otherwise find in Wisconsin. "It chose me. It's just something that I was attracted to."
Teen boys emulating YouTube videos is often a recipe for disaster. But that wasn't the case when Brad Short and some friends stumbled on videos of "free running" about five years ago. Fascinated, Short set about learning the philosophy behind the French movement of parkour, a mostly noncompetitive sport that involves moving around obstacles (walls, benches, shrubs) with combinations of jumps, flips, balancing maneuvers, rolls, and sprints.
"It's kind of like a martial art in that it's disciplined," Short says. "The sport [is helpful for] overcoming mental blocks and fears and building body awareness."
The Florida Atlantic University student — he's an exercise major, naturally — immersed himself in the study of form, control, and movement necessary for parkour. He recently competed in Davie at a "free movement" event sponsored by Vitaminwater, a big step for a fledgling sport. Like skateboarding, parkour is sometimes, shall we say, unappreciated by owners of shopping plazas or cops patrolling public spaces who wonder why some dude is doing backflips over the shrubbery. Short, however, says serious parkourers are respectful of private and public property and will leave a property if asked.
Short devotes at least two hours a day to conditioning and practice during the week and even more on weekends, carefully watching his diet to keep his body in peak condition. "You use your body in a completely different way," he says of the sport. "You're always told: 'Here's the sidewalk; walk on the sidewalk.' 'Here's a wall; you can't go past that.' With parkour, your mind is open."
The words roller derby might conjure visions of tatted-up chicks on a hard-core schedule of boozing and brawling. Clarice Zayas, however, works her ass off to stay on top of her game. The registered dietitian trains three days a week on her skates and usually spends another three days hitting weights or working on her endurance off the rink.
"I'm a firm believer in cross-training," she says. The training is necessary so she'll have the speed, strength, and stamina required to compete in the increasingly demanding sport. "There's so much challenge; there's always something to work on," she says.