The rich history of kenpo karate stretches as far back as the second century AD, when the number two was invented and renowned surgeon Hua T’o devised defensive exercises based on animal poses. The Asian sport continued to evolve over the intervening years, and in the 20th century, Ed Parker imported kenpo to the states and became not only the senior grandmaster of American kenpo, but also the “father of American Kenpo.” Today, Ed Parker Jr. carries on his father’s legacy as a member of the Master Council that presides over American Institute of Kenpo, along with other kenpo greats such as ninth-degree black belt Sigung Stephen LaBounty. The team of experts offers a guiding presence at the institute—Ed drops in for yearly camps and senior black-belt testing—and ensures the internationally certified instructors teach kenpo karate with the utmost attention to the principles of the sport.
Though kenpo is derived from ancient techniques, it encompasses contemporary self-defense and fitness methods. In the first lesson, students power through all the basics—the five ranges of combat and how to move swiftly—and form a sturdy foundation for increased strength, coordination, and flexibility. The center offers a wide range of programs for all ages and ability levels so that new pupils can master kenpo quickly and ascend through the belt-oriented ranks toward black.
Mike and his son Alex both enthusiastically share their combined 45 years of know-how and love of diving with all who are bold enough to strike out on an underwater adventure! Over the past 30 years, Mike has recruited a staff of dedicated instructors that schools nascent underwater explorers in introductory lessons and intensive scuba-certification classes. The staff members equip students with most necessary gear for the classes, which cover maritime topics ranging from first aid and fish identification to deep diving and how to fashion sleeping octopuses into temporary helmets. Many classes require that participants first take an open-water scuba course, which bestows diving fundamentals and can eventually lead to certification. The center welcomes all past open-water students back for free refresher courses, helping former pupils sharpen their skills in advance of upcoming dives and snorkel-throwing tournaments. To further refine aquatic abilities, Desert Divers leads new graduates out on field trips to such dive-friendly locales as San Carlos, Mexico, and Key Largo, Florida.
Randy Brown was overweight and felt uncomfortable with his body. When a friend encouraged him to try boot camp, he reluctantly joined. Through hard work and with support from his instructor, he transformed his body and felt better than ever before. Today, Randy is a certified personal trainer and wants to help others do what his instructor helped him to do years ago: get in shape, gain confidence, and whistle Beethoven's Symphony no. 9. Through the years, he has grown Brown's Boot Camp from one class of 25 students to 14 different camps, and some of his students have gone on to become personal trainers themselves, which speaks to the success of his workout regimen and the camp's communal atmosphere. Randy's program focuses on improving total fitness, which not only includes strength, cardio, and flexibility but also nutritional counseling.
In the more than 25 years Jim Earls has spent behind the lens, he has photographed over 1,500 weddings and countless families, high-school graduates, and children. A former president of the Arizona Professional Photographers Association, Earl also uses his portrait-snapping prowess to teach digital-photography classes. Beginners’ sessions instruct students on how to create quality images by manipulating camera settings, exposure, natural light, and flash. Alternatively, classes on computer and camera functions give step-by-step instruction on how to navigate cameras and upload images that can be edited, printed out, and used to wallpaper a bathroom. Earls leads both indoor and outdoor photography shoots, which help students become more versatile photographers by working among studio settings as well as natural backdrops.
Pure Aesthetics Natural Skincare School is a school dedicated to aesthetic education with an emphasis on the use of nontoxic products. Founder and director Kaelen Johnson has worked in the health and med-spa industry since 1993. Formerly an educator for Essensa, an organic skincare line, Kaelen manifests her passion for discovering all-natural beauty products and for spreading awareness of holistic health practices through the operation of the educational center.
Here, students perform a full menu beauty services including facials, peels, body treatments, and waxing. Showcasing a contemporary, minimalist interior design with a color scheme of muted greys and browns, the eco-friendly facility features recycled-cork flooring, a bamboo reception desk, and hand-painted cotton muslin curtains.
Christopher Goodwill and Michael Makoid met while diving in the Sea of Cortez. The duo’s shared passion for scuba led them to found Planet Scuba; nowadays, they lead fellow divers on trips to the sea where they first met, as well as to Key Largo, St. Croix, and other exotic locales.
The shop arms patrons for independent dive trips as well with open-water certification courses. During 22 hours of coursework that combine classroom instruction and pool lessons, students learn basic diving techniques, such as removing the helium balloons tied to their wrists. Classes close with an optional overnight dive trip, on which students earn their certification. The gear store—which stocks equipment for snorkeling and swimming as well as diving—can equip aquatic explorers for any kind of expedition.