As a 23-year-old junior, Tom Hatten didn’t spend his evenings at the raucous parties or ice-cream socials associated with college life. Instead, he’d spend the waning hours of his evenings waiting by the dryer for the last batch of towels before collapsing into bed. In the morning, he would lug them to Mountainside Fitness, the gym he opened as a student that he has thrown all his energy into maintaining ever since.
Today, the humble 4,800-square-foot space has bloomed into nine gyms that average a sweeping 41,000 square feet. Tom’s vision of creating a friendly neighborhood gym that greets each guest with a warm towel underscores every decision he makes for the different locations, from the colorful kid-care spaces to the entertaining group fitness classes. Personal trainers plan regimens tailored to each client, helping them lose weight, build muscle, or target the muscles that will help build a better golf game. Clients can create their own routines with the help of cardio and weight machines, or explore the different amenities at each location, such as saunas, rock-climbing walls, and indoor basketball courts.
The idea for Waterworks on Wheels blossomed in the backyards of the East Valley. Founder Janice Jaicks traveled from home to home, guiding children's swimming strokes inside their own pools. Soon, the demand for her lessons required her to hire more instructors, and in addition to her summer house calls, Janice set up shop at four health clubs for year-round classes.
Today she and her team acquaint children aged 10 months–10 years with the water through a mix of patience, kindness, and know-how. The instructors seamlessly combine safety with fun, and though they specialize in teaching preschoolers and first-time swimmers, they can engage kids of all skill levels with more advanced aquatic exercises and even have a program to boost the competitive skills of adults. By maintaining a small student-to-teacher ratio, they focus on enhancing each person's aptitude regardless of prior years spent land-locked or recent hours spent swallowing helium.
Augusta Ranch Golf Club’s first hole starts players off with a bit of misdirection. Measuring 379 yards from the back tees, the longest hole on the course calls for a zealous swing, while the rest of the course is designed to give irons a workout. The links feature a mix of par-3 and par-4 holes that invite newcomers to play around and test experienced players' short game play with shallow greens and treacherous bunkers. Instructors give lessons for all skill levels, and the staff organizes a variety of events throughout the year, from clinics and tournaments to Night Golf played with glowing golf balls. Players can convene beneath The Sunset Grille’s outdoor pavilion to snack on classic breakfast and lunch cuisine and keep an eye out for flocks of geese trained to abduct pitching wedges.
Course at a Glance:
Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros; the Beginning Digital Photography course teaches students to harness the intricacies of their instruments, and the Pro Academy offers inside tips on how to successfully snap wedding portraits, pose recent grads, or tease out candid emotions. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.
At Jambo! Park, children uncork bottled up energy as they spring across an indoor playground sprawling with jungle-themed rides, family-friendly games, and towering play structures. The fun factory's Phoenix locale manufactures raucous laughter and endless enjoyment with myriad attractions, including the Himalaya mini roller coaster, Monkey Barrels ride, and Spin Tops ride. Families can settle disputes over who's the favorite child in a pirate-themed laser-tag arena or club their way through the six greens of a mini-golf course. Miniature pilots control their altitude as they circle around on the Flying Elephants ride or take a spin on the Jungle Swing ride. Little conductors can take in the views on the Safari Train. A three-level play structure festooned with tubes and slides welcomes climbers and sliders, and more than 90 nonviolent video games jangle merrily in the arcade.
Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.