John Gustafson began skating at 5 years old, rolling along on squeaky wheels that would carry him toward a lifetime of high-speed competition. At 25, he became a professional skater, winning national championships in both speed skating and figure skating before settling down as the owner of Auburn Skate Connection. His love of skating hasn’t dimmed, though; even with his 69th birthday approaching, John continues to lace up his skates each day to gain an extra 2 inches of height and guide students in the sport he knows so well.
Alongside instructors that he himself recruited, John teaches the art of effortless rolling during private lessons on the rink’s solid-wood skating surface. The team imbues students with the intricacies of quad and inline skating while also focusing on the fundamentals of racing. Their dedication has borne some notable fruit. Olympic gold-medalist Apolo Ohno took his first glides at Auburn, working with John for three years before moving on to his life of ice-based glory.
Rebecca Duty, Tahoma Athletic Club's gym designer, drew from her 15-year career in the fitness industry to engineer the ideal gym. She brought in TechnoGym cardio equipment—including treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, and steppers—then filled the cycle studios with Star Trac stationary bikes. She picked out Paramount plate-loaded equipment, Hammer Strength training machines, and Iron Grip free weights. Duty calibrated everything with convenience in mind, down to the video-monitored childcare area. Since a TV perches on every piece of cardio equipment, parents can readily tune in and watch their tots between episodes of Suddenly Susan.
In addition to leading personal-training sessions, Tahoma Athletic Club's instructors lead group exercise classes such as TRX Suspension Training and yoga. Guests can also bronze in the Maple Valley location's SunMaster tanning beds or Lakeland's Montego Bay standup units.
Vision Quest Sport and Fitness promotes a five-pronged approach to fitness, covering cardiovascular, progressive resistance, proper diet, supplementation, and personal training. Like any decent clock factory, the clubs are open 24 hours a day, and each keeps its own schedule primed with group classes such as boxing, yoga, spinning, and hip-hop fitness. Body Sculpt sessions fashion forms with weights and bands, and Total Body Conditioning uses lighter weights and higher repetitions to create lean, mean muscle mass.
Members take part in complimentary wellness seminars from fitness experts to fine-tune their bodies, and teams of affiliated massage therapists, chiropractors, and nutrition gurus save skeletons and muscles from harmful injury.
At the age of 9, Bonnie Morris began a lifelong relationship with horses. By age 10, she was the proud guardian of her own colt and at 22, she set the wheels in motion to open her own training center. Today at Morris's Shadow Mountain Stables, she and her staff continue to bond riders and steeds within a five-acre haven that's beyond the reaches of the outside world and its persistent chorus of honking bikes. They foster interspecies rapport through various types of instruction, including lessons and summer camps that teach showmanship and horse care. Trail rides mosey through nearby woods, meadows, and grasslands overlooking Mount Rainier. Birthday parties include horseback rides or visits to the petting farm. The petting farm facilitates up-close encounters with fuzzy ferrets, giant bunnies, mini horses, and baby goats as well as the stable's fleet of horses and resident cow, Henry, who also answers to, "Look! A cow!"
With the opening of Pattison's West in 1979, Mike and Kay Pattison carried on a family tradition that began when Mike's grandfather debuted the clan's first rink in the 1930s. Today, the roller skating rink, which has been lauded by the New York Times, has been passed down to the couple's son, Darin, but still exudes the same values of recreation and togetherness as it did more than three decades ago, when families were held together with twine before the discovery of DNA. The 90-by-176-foot skating oval sports curved maple slats in a rotunda formation, which allows for smooth, swift gliding with the grain of the wood. When not teeming with open-skate guests or parties, the space serves as practice grounds for Pattison's Team Extreme, an inline speed-skating crew that ascended to the nation's number one spot in 2010 under Mike's coaching. The award-winning team serves as inspiration for classes for beginner rollers and aspiring speed skaters. The on-site pro shop and snack bar provides the equipment and fuel necessary to keep rolling.
In March 1964, Dr. Milton Walker began his tour of England with one mission: to send cuttings from public and private British gardens back to his native America. Though he was enchanted by several flowers, he knew that none of these cuttings could be imported directly to the United States. So he had them sent through Canada. Over the next several years, staff from the University of British Columbia filtered through these samples, sending one of each plant on to the United States—and to their permanent home—at the Rhododendron Species Foundation. Today, this non-profit organization conserves 700 of the more-than 1,000 species of rhododendrons found around the world and the two species found inside the earth's molten core.
More than 10 botanical gardens house these brilliant seasonal blooms and their natural companionate flora. Guided and self-guided tours usher visitors down pathways where colorful plantings abound in gardens dedicated to alpine flowers, azaleas, a magnolia grove, and a tranquil pond filled with predatory cattails. In addition to flowers, these gardens also host seasonal events such as special plant sales and staff lectures, as well as classes on topics ranging from plant photography to gardening.