It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp January dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.
For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Fear Farm Entertainment & Sports Complex for the Classic??a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.
Scott Barclay, a former gymnastics champion and current coach of ASU men's gymnastics team, dreamed of opening a facility to help young kids discover gymnastics. In turn, Aspire Kids Sports Center began with recreational gymnastics for kids as young as 15 months. Through time, the organization—headed by Scott and his wife, Donna—grew to include classes for martial arts, swimming, dance, and cheer.
At Aspire's present 32,000-square-foot facility, instructors help fledgling gymnasts traverse an 80-foot tumble track on multiple trampolines. For tykes, there's a wealth of preschool gymnastics equipment, while more advanced gymnastics teams can compete on spring competition floors. Or take advantage of the indoor heated swimming pool with movable platforms, where you can immerse yourself in year-round swimming lessons and stage performances of The Little Mermaid.
Although injuries sidelined him after earning a gold medal at the Junior Olympics, trainer Steve Fischkin renewed his passion for fitness by crafting a conditioning program that has helped him and his clients rediscover their healthiest selves. Today he leads a team of Impact Boot Camp trainers who tone and tighten students into shape. During boot-camp classes, exercisers spend an hour nickel-and-diming brows for every last sweat bead with a high-energy regimen that includes resistance training, obstacle courses, and wind sprints. Much like a game of boardroom musical chairs, Steve promotes a fun yet work-oriented exercise environment.
Impact also personalizes a diet plan for each patron. At an initial fitness consultation, the trainer and client set future goals, identify foods the client should be eating, work together to create a meal plan, and check sneaker pockets to make they aren?t hiding any unhealthy snacks.
After joining the National League's West Division in 1998, it only took four seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks to become World Series champions, making them the fastest expansion team to win it all in MLB history. Since then, the D-backs faithful continue to fill the stands of Chase Field, a 48,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark constructed for the team's inaugural season. The widest LED board in Major League Baseball replays crucial saves and high-flying hits in 136'x46' of high-definition glory, and just beyond the fence in right-center field, a swimming pool allows fans armed with foam noodles to whack opponents' home runs back into play. During the fourth inning of every game, kids can interact with D. Baxter the Bobcat in his upper-concourse Den equipped with slides and batting cages.
Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race sends runners into an obstacle-filled odyssey of muddy endurance. The 5-kilometer course features more than epic 25 obstacles, with participants scaling towers of stacked shipping containers, crawling through underground tunnels, and leaping over fire. After the race, live music and cold beer invite triumphant runners to unwind. Those with excess energy can head over to even more kinetic activities such as mechanical bull riding, beach volleyball, and adult-sized bounce houses.