The interactive exhibits and programs compiled by the Pink Palace Family of Museums reinforce a mission that has stayed constant for 80 years: to "inspire people to learn how history, science, technology, and nature shape the Mid-South." Attached to Clarence Saunders' mansion built in the 1920s, the museum's permanent exhibits take an eclectic approach to chronicling the past, revealing everything from ancient fossils to contemporary southern history. Inside, visitors can chart the history of Memphis from the early Spanish explorers through the Civil War or walk through a replica of Saunders' original Piggly Wiggly—the country’s first self-service grocery store, and even see a shrunken head. Global adventures are chronicled on a four-story screen at the CTI-IMAX theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium explores the cosmos from the comfort of a 130-seat theater.
Traveling to east Memphis, one can discern the natural side of the Pink Palace Family of Museums. Lichterman Nature Center encompasses 65 acres of lush gardens filled with native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife. The center combines self-guided nature walks with plant sales and educational activities to expose visitors to the natural world.
In January 2012, Amanda Gonzales and Edgar Mendez—a former principal dancer and choreographer for the Los Rumberos dance company—founded Madison Dance Studio to share their love of rhythmic movement with all ages. The duo and their team of talented instructors lead classes, including salsa and hip-hop, atop of a wood floor illuminated by floating party lights. In addition to helming belly-dance sessions, they channel Latin-inspired dance moves and global party beats in Zumba fitness classes. Amanda encourages ladies to confidently express themselves on club dance floors during her signature Hip Hop in Heels class.
After all hips have been shimmied and snaked according to U.S. government standards, students and instructors can rest atop the cushy sectional sofa while admiring the sky-blue chevron murals, which add a modern vibe to the room's exposed brick.
Range USA brings together the local community of shooting enthusiasts on its range and during special events while welcoming new marksmen with informative and confidence-bolstering classes. The 20,000-square-foot Memphis facility houses a shooting range divided into two climate-controlled areas—one with nine lanes at 50 feet deep, the other with 14 lanes at 82 feet deep—with one of the two areas always open to the public. Further afield, Range USA's team also operates a 10-lane shooting gallery in Jackson. Besides overseeing the ranges, the staff also teaches classes, from basic handgun and advanced tactical training to women-only and youth programs. A FAQ page anticipates visitors' questions, such as "What calibers are allowed on the shooting range?" and "Do you have ear muffs to match my belt buckle?" When spending a day at Range USA, the facility's own 1776 Deli & Eatery keeps hunger from interfering with focus.
The Stax Museum is one of the only soul-music museums in the world. It originally sprouted from an old movie theater into recording studios, offices, and engineering rooms and also birthed Stax Records, a soul-music label that influenced music internationally. Explore this artifact-packed temple of tunes to discover over 2,000 soulful objet d'art and exhibits. The museum celebrates the songs of archetypal artists like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and soul much more. As you stroll through the cabinet of wonders, music playing throughout the museum encourages the practice of extemporaneous dance moves on the Soul Train dance floor. Walls of records, film screenings, memorabilia, and countless items of musical intrigue are scattered throughout. Bask in the ambience of Isaac Hayes's peacock-blue 1972 fur-lined super-fly Cadillac Eldorado with a television, refrigerator, gold trim, and electromagnetic women attractor.
Dexter Tenison knows how to lose weight. Weighing nearly 300 pounds after college, Tenison decided it was time to make a change. Throwing himself into martial arts and personal training, he discovered a healthier lifestyle that he realized was inspiring others to reach their own goals. With that, he decided to open Memphis Adventure Boot Camp. Voted Best Health Club by Memphis Most in 2011 and 2103, Tenison’s all-female boot camps combine the group vibe he found in his martial-arts classes with the personal attention and drastic results from personal training. Camps span several weeks at a time, aiming to whip frames into shape with ever-changing fitness regimes that spice up traditional exercise, such as jogging and resistance training, with fresh add-ins, including obstacle courses, lunging, and building body bridges across quicksand. To cater to all conditioning levels, every workout is easily modifiable, and no participants will ever be pushed to overexert themselves.