Like a beacon of fitness, Envision Memphis sits atop the historic Cadre Building in downtown Memphis. There, personal trainers await to whip clients into shape with boot camps, yoga classes, and one-on-one sessions. Visitors working out alone keep equally busy. Cardio and weight machines tone muscle alongside body balls, and ample floor space allows for plentiful pushups or spontaneous break dancing. In addition, a full-size boxing ring with padded safety equipment hosts full-contact kickboxing practice.
In the pre-computer age, wagons and trucks loaded with cotton samples once flooded Front Street, where cotton traders graded, bought, sold, and shipped their wares on the floor of the private Memphis Cotton Exchange. Formerly off-limits to everyone but members and their guests, the restored 3,000-square-foot room—adorned with ornate architectural flourishes from 1924 and a 30-foot ceiling—opened to the public as The Cotton Museum in 2006. Through documentary films and exhibits, the institution traces the history of the exchange and the impact of cotton on culture and society. The museum's oral-history project collects testimonials from merchants, mill workers, and sharecroppers, and its hall of fame honors innovative industry leaders who turned to cotton after unsuccessful attempts at lassoing clouds. Outside, a 30-minute self-guided walking tour highlights nine historical stops around Front Street, whereas the Exploration Hall's interactive indoor exhibit, The Changing World of Cotton, describes industry advances in mechanization and environmental sustainability.
The instructors at Cat's Ballroom teach the art of movement—from ballroom dancing to self-defense. During group and private ballroom lessons, they facilitate creative expression though graceful steps, turns, and dips. Wednesday-night practice parties let students put their new skills and homemade papier mâché shoes to the test on the dance floor. Zumba fitness classes fuse Latin-inspired moves such as salsa and samba with energetic beats for a dance-party inspired workout. Self-defense classes round out the studio's offerings, teaching how to defend against attackers with techniques ranging from basic punches and kicks to quick catapult loading.
Pinot's Palette is less an art studio than it is a way for people to enjoy a libation-filled night out with friends, one that happens to include a painting project. The painting sessions evoke adults' inner artists whether they have any painting experience or not, encouraging conversation and good cheer while painting and sipping. Some locations feature a BYOB policy while others serve beer and wine from the bar. Each session features a predetermined painting?from flowers and animals to known classics such as Van Gogh's Starry Night?which each participant tackles from their own artistic angle under the guidance of an experienced instructor.
Range USA's staff's goal is not only to school students in responsible gun ownership, but also to create a communal environment. Instructors teach classes ranging from basic handgun and advanced tactical training to programs designed specifically for women and youths. When spending a day at Range USA, the facility's own 1776 Deli & Eatery keeps hunger from interfering with focus. Prior to your visit, check out the FAQ page, which anticipates visitors' questions.
Instructor Lynn Givens knows from experience the kinds of dangers lurk in the world. After an experience with a stalker who threatened her and her son, she started training in armed self-defense, going on to earn a state instructor's certification in less than a year. Wanting to help prepare others for such threats, she joined the instructional team at Rangemaster, where today she and several other instructors lead more than 30 training courses.
Understanding that all clients have unique training needs is what drives the staff at Rangemaster. The team operates under the direction of owner and chief instructor Tom Givens, who previously spent 25 years in law enforcement and security. Applying training standards compliant with organizations such as the NRA, Tom's team-teaches classes from the Level I – Basic Personal Protection Course to advanced classes such as Low Light Skills and a three-day Dynamic Marksmanship course. When not leading classes, the instructors oversee a range that welcomes the general public and members, who enjoy perks such as class discounts and their own entrance music played at every visit.