Masked by opaque helmets, eight racers at a time tense up to counteract the G-force pressing them to the sides of their karts. As they approach the fastest sweeping turn on the course, The Catapult, they sharpen their focus in order to out-manoeuvre the other racers, their final position hanging in the balance. Grand Prix Kartways' 47,000-square-foot facility's alternating red and white barriers blur as electric, Italian-made karts accelerate into the last straightaway, cheered on by spectators watching from the VIP lounge. Once across the finish line, the competitors clear the track for the next race, using instant printouts of the results to compare placing, reveal who had the best lap times, and determine who was throwing all the koopa shells and banana peels. Between races, daredevils can relax and take a seat in the cushy trackside lounge equipped with leather couches, a restaurant menu, and a full bar. The arcade also offers a view of one of the track's hairpin curves between billiards shots, simulator races, and video games on Kinect-equipped Xbox 360 systems.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
When the students in Kelly Smith?s middle-school classroom wanted an extracurricular outlet for their volleyball skills, the educator was quick to oblige. He founded the nonprofit Pakmen Volleyball Club in response to the kids' request, personally devoting 30,000 hours to the cause and asking his crew of volunteers, including a former coach of the medal-winning Sheridan Bruins volleyball team, to help out with their own pro bono labor. As Kelly expanded the club to include year-round leagues and lessons as well as summer programs on the beach, his seasoned coaches began breeding champions at the provincial and international levels. With teams that range from recreational squads of beginners to die-hard groups of competitors, the club has something to offer every age, skill level, and shoe size.
Camp is way more than just an outlet for kids to express themselves or avoid boredom—it's a chance to make new friends, try new things, and create memories that last a lifetime. Adventure Valley Day Camp is no exception, and each of their staffers aim to make kids feel a strong sense of community and belonging during daily excursions and activities. The camp also hosts special events and themed birthday parties for up to 500 people. Those parties range in theme from superhero academy to princess parties, or even yoga parties for totally centered and enlightened seven year olds.
Madd About Zumba’s name speaks to that of its founder—Maddalena Pignatari. With a BFA in Dance from York University and a Zumba certification, Maddalena is particularly mad about dance fitness. She specializes in Zumba classes, whose Latin-inspired routines incorporate occasional workout-intensifying props and weights. High-octane latin-pop music provides a soundtrack to the classes, as well as small-group or private personal-training sessions, whose curricula are more tailored to their participants. Personal-training regimens prevent fitness plateaus with three distinct workout phases, and can include a nutrition plan.
The team at Player's Athletic Lager takes UFC seriously. During every event, they switch all 20 of their TVs to the fight and turn the sound on loud so that any punches can be heard in unison. That number of screens isn't overkill—the sports bar's high-top tables and open booths are often filled to capacity with fans, who sneak sips of beer and bites of ribs between each exchange of blows.
One look at Player's Athletic Lager's walls, however, and it becomes clear that this place isn't just about mixed martial arts. It celebrates all sorts of sports. Hockey memorabilia fills the space above diners' heads. The TVs might just as easily be tuned to international soccer or stock car racing. Pool tables and darts let customers partake in their own friendly competitions, provided they bring along their own personal anthropomorphic-chicken mascot.
Of course, all that cheering requires fuel—which, luckily, the kitchen provides in the form of classic pub-style fare made from scratch. Burgers are cooked fresh from never-frozen burgers, for example, and 12-inch pizzas can arrive laden with a variety of savory toppings. Player's Athletic Lager also fries up an impressive amount of finger food for Wing Monday, when saucy wings are piled onto plates at 45 cents apiece.