After spending time in Quaking Grass's furnished loft studio, you learn why some of the yoga, Zumba, and holistic-dance instructors refer to the space as their "big living room." Once inside the studio, you find yourself in a sprawling, high-ceilinged loft. Natural light spills in from tall windows and onto green walls, where African art and decorative Asian fans hang. Scanning the room, you see plush furniture, a kitchenette, and a massive Native American dream catcher, painted white and hanging 6 feet to the floor.
Quaking Grass is home to the Healing Arts Collective; many of its members left positions as businesspeople, teachers, and lawyers in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle. According to director Heather Straube, they each felt called to help others through techniques such as massage, yoga, and dance. Instructors lead students through progressive poses in Vinyasa yoga, dances set to Latin and Caribbean beats in Zumba, and blends of meditative martial arts and freeform movement in Earthquake Ecstatic and Nia dance. Though they guide some classes step-by-step, instructors emphasize free exploration over adhering to a strict routine—reminding students that they can meditate silently, pair off with partners, or dance alone to practice leading and following at the same time.
Once each month, Quaking Grass's members also host an open community clinic, experimental salon, and potluck. Practitioners stationed throughout the space introduce curious guests to basics of tarot-card reading, massage, hypnosis, quantum touch, and a host of other holistic methods—with the hope that visitors, like babies balancing their first checkbooks, experience something new. Individual members, artists, or community practitioners may also lead workshops or lectures explaining their craft.
Nowadays, the term “martial arts” conjures up images of flashy Hollywood kicks, championship trophies, and prismatic collections of ranked belts. Many often forget, however, that the martial arts are tools for self-defense. The instructors at McKenzie Martial Arts eschew the glamour and instead focus on teaching students how to protect themselves, encouraging participation from the entire family. They lead kids, teens, and adults through a range of disciplines, including Bruce Lee’s street-level jeet kune do, Gracie jujitsu, and weapon-centric Filipino kali and escrima. During each lesson, they’ll equip students with gloves and padded weapons and let them put their newfound skills to use in a ring or mat-covered training room. Family members, meanwhile, can watch their kin square off by meditating to the point of omnipresence or simply nabbing a spot in the comfortable viewing area.
During the challenge, teams of two or more individuals will run helter-skelter around the city in a frantic race for cash prizes and personal pride, with a first-place award of $200. Not only will participants have to solve strands of interconnected clues that would test the deductive powers of even the most seasoned consulting detective, they'll need to plot spatiotemporal stratagems while exploring undiscovered corners of the city. Although being physically fit is a plus, quick wits and wise planning will ultimately determine the winners. Participation in the challenge gets contestants a clue packet, race-number bib, and T-shirt, and fees also help toward contributions to partner charities and the prize pool. The website offers a regular FAQ and Groupon FAQ page with further details on the intricacies of the race, what to wear the day of, why it's not okay to bring a boa constrictor, and more.
Rose City Rowing Club rents 4,400 square feet of the Portland Boathouse for equipment storage and showers, but that’s not where the heart of its business takes place. On the Willamette River, middle- and high-school rowers soak in the sights and move in synchronicity, timing each catch and drive as their narrow boats glide across the water.
Team manager Lynn Walton emphasizes that the focus is on the team, not just an array of star players. “If you sign up to row with us, you row as many days as you want, and you race in every event you go to. We don’t have cuts.” Throughout the season, athletes’ participation in the low-impact, high-intensity aerobic sport helps to boost strength, endurance, balance, and coordination. Oarsmen and oarswomen broaden their social networks by befriending their teammates, who may be from different schools, districts, or positions on the paper v. plastic debate.
Walton says rowing is a great way to boost admission potential in high school; college teams are growing and continuing to expand their athletic rosters, scouting and offering scholarships that can especially benefit female candidates who show interest and potential. One of the best parts of rowing is it can build healthy habits to last a lifetime. “When we go to regattas, there are people who are 85 years old who are rowing and racing still, and they started rowing in college, back in the 1940s,” she says.