In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Through exhibits that explore everything from astronomy and physics to biology and paleontology, the Science Factory inspires a lifelong love of science in children as well as adults. Above all else, the nonprofit embraces a motto of "please touch," creating safe, engaging opportunities for children to act on their curiosity and gain insight into the principles underlying scientific and technological theories.
The Exploration Dome exemplifies the immersive nature of the Museum, surrounding audiences with a full-dome screen that displays digital and live-action films. These educational features can take guests to virtually any location in the world and beyond, including the heart of the Borneo rainforest, the depths of prehistoric oceans, the edge of our galaxy's super-massive black hole, and a universe where popcorn kernels never get stuck in your teeth. Permanent exhibits—including a feature on responsible recycling as well as a terrarium of lizards, frogs, and plants, complete with Renegade, the Museum's resident iguana—explore topics in more depth, complementing both the Exploration Dome’s videos and an ever-changing roster of special attractions.
At Adventures Unlimited, infants to 12-year-olds develop their love of learning through hands-on exploration in a safe environment, overseen by a team of first-aid- and CPR-certified caretakers. The center combines a park-like outdoor play area, ideal for aspiring tag-players and botanists alike, with an onsite trove of dress-up clothes to aid children as they become pirates or tiara-wearing pirates. Adventures Unlimited also fuels fun with snacks throughout the day, though children are responsible for bringing their own sack lunches.
Age-targeted activities abound throughout the year, with story time for infants and toddlers, after-school activities and transportation to local elementary schools for school-age children, and a pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds with semi-structured art, science, math, and language classes. A registered private kindergarten pampers 5-year-olds with attention before transitioning them seamlessly into local public schools. During the summer months, the center’s camp hinges on weekly themes that can transform participants into chefs or educate them on Oregon’s history of hiding gold in its rivers and children's ears.
Each of the guitar coaches at American Guitar Academy are certified in the school’s signature teaching method. Developed over 25 years, this house-honed instruction technique incorporates scientific research to help fingers learn to shred frets up to eight times faster than alternative methods. During private half-hour lessons, instructors guide budding rock stars aged 4 years and up through the basics of strumming chords and seamlessly stitching together riffs. These comprehensive lessons on classical, electric, or acoustic guitars are offered once a week with a live instructor or online and guarantee that students will be playing their favorite music within six months of training. Students may begin lessons without owning a guitar, but are encouraged to gain access to one quickly for mastering scales and the ability to solo with their teeth.
Brains need workouts, too, according to the founders of Braingystics, a licensed Brainobrain learning center. Here, adults, seniors, and children aged 4–14 hone their abilities to listen, learn, and tackle nearly any problem that comes their way. The center’s whole-brain development program revolves around games, coaching, and brain training that incorporates neuro-feedback, music therapy, and multisensory exercises. As kids hone their math and reading skills, they build confidence, creativity, and a vocabulary as broad and sophisticated as an ocean with a British accent. To help all children achieve their true potential, the center offers learning assessments and therapy for gifted children as well as those with challenges such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism-spectrum disorders. Seniors can attend classes that use both instructor-based and technologically enhanced exercises to keep mental faculties sharp and improve emotional health. Adults 18 years and older can also benefit from brain training, beginning with an assessment to determine mental fitness and continuing with small-group classes or one-on-one coaching, which can enhance focus, memory, and communication skills, and even help with weight-loss and stress-relief efforts.
Certified regular and guest instructors at Bikram Yoga Greater Portland's three studios guide groups through yoga poses and breathing exercises inside rooms heated to a temperature of 105 degrees or higher. Flow through up to 26 postures of varying difficulty in each 90-minute session, taking slow breaths through the nose and focusing on stillness so as not to disturb temperamental motion sensors. By encouraging perspiration, the practice of Bikram yoga may help to facilitate weight loss, lower high blood pressure and stress, and reduce pain from physical injuries.
Bikram Yoga Greater Portland threw open the doors of their newest location, in Tigard, in May 2013; the spacious studio floods with natural light from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows on one side of the space. The sleek confines of the Beaverton location are home to a 4,000-square-foot studio and a lobby decorated with custom-built benches. The Portland studio's 2,500-square-foot space is guarded by a lobby decorated with subtle colors and natural light from large windows. All locations are equipped with showers for men and women, each stocked with robes to keep post-workout skin from huddling up under the hair upon encountering cooler temps.