Benjamin Allen believes outdoor pursuits can positively influence those in need. This belief has led him all over the continent, building a ropes course for an orphanage in Mexico and setting up two courses for troubled youth at Provo Canyon School, a bit closer to home. Wanting to share his knowledge of nature with the public, he set up a course, CLAS Ropes Course, near Utah Lake nearly 20 years ago. Benjamin and his crew have since erected more than 50 ropes courses around the country, continuing to inspect ropes and train others how to run them.
CLAS Ropes Course continues to grow each year, creating obstacles such as a giant swing that releases passengers 40 feet in the air, a 400-foot zipline that whizzes through forest canopy, and a "leap of faith," where adventure seekers jump from a treetop platform to a trapeze. A log balance beam hung 30 feet above the ground and a 24-foot-tall rock-climbing tower test agility and endurance, and a fleet of 20 canoes lets paddlers navigate a mile and a half of river. Many of these structures play host to team-building activities focused on developing a group's creativity and tolerance for hearing one another sing. Staff members tailor their instruction to families, dating groups, or athletic teams. They often apply their approach to athletes, such as a professional golfer who traveled all the way from Texas hoping to conquer her fear of not qualifying for tournaments. She defeated the log balance beam, departed victorious, and qualified during her next tryout two weeks later.
Karate lessons at Shudokan of Provo stress self-discovery as much as self-defense. Under the tutelage of Ron Rowe—a second-degree shudokan black belt and first-degree goshin jutsu black belt—students learn an array of blocking, punching, and kicking techniques while focusing the mind on tenets such as respect and self-confidence. In addition to karate lessons, the center offers intense cardio workouts through kickboxing classes.
Cascade Golf Center pairs an 18-hole golf course with 54 holes of miniature golf, inviting golfers of all stripes to enjoy the challenges of the game. Sculpted into the rolling terrain of surrounding foothills, the 6,055-yard course begins with the relatively flat land of the front-nine Valley Course before plotting an oscillating path over the back-nine Mountain Course, where clubbers must contend with elevation changes and the shrill tones of displaced Bavarian yodelers during backswings. As golfers traverse the course, crests give way to scenic views of snowcapped mountains and distant Utah Lake.
The Center’s miniature-golf courses include two obstacle-ridden, 18-hole courses and an 18-hole, natural-grass putting course designed for focused practice. Those looking for conventional putt-putt pleasure can steer shots past the waterfalls and streams that hug The Falls, or sink two-putts among the inventive rock formations and evergreen corridors of The Arches. The natural-turf putting course eschews exotic obstacles in favor of sloped greens hemmed by a cut of rough that, combined, resembles a small golf course or the front lawn of an overenthusiastic landscaper.
Captivated by the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, a young Dan Whiting signed up for a wilderness survival hike in search of similar swashbuckling. It didn’t turn out as he had hoped. “The only thing I learned was that you can get really hungry and really thirsty in the desert.” Whiting vowed to approach his own outdoor adventures differently. He now believes nature can be abundant and nurturing rather than barren and trying—provided you have the tools to understand it, that is.
Although Whiting has studied dozens of field guides, he learned his most valuable lessons via firsthand experience. To wit: he has eaten 78 plants to date and knows just as many recipes. On one expedition, Mr. Whiting was delighted when a participant turned to him and said, “I had no idea there was so much food up here.”
The wilderness expert acknowledges that people may learn skills that could one day save their lives. But his ultimate goal is to transform the way people think about being outdoors. “When you are familiar with animals and plants, you feel free. When you have intimate knowledge of how something tastes, feels, smells, then there’s no fear of it anymore. It’s just everyday life."
At age 19, Tara Marshall found herself working her way back to health after a debilitating car accident. During her recovery, Tara discovered Pilates, and she found that the gentle, fluid movements helped both strengthen the body and ease neurological disorders. Inspired to help others find the relief that she had, Tara pursued instructor training, studying assiduously in mat- and equipment-based Pilates. Once she had the knowledge of Pilates necessary to help others reshape their minds and bodies, Tara created Pure Pilates Classical Studio as a warm and welcoming place for people of all experience levels. Today, she teaches core classes that progress gradually from introductory to advanced movements to ease new students into Pilates practice. In keeping with her desire to help others heal themselves, Tara offers prenatal and postnatal sessions where pregnant women can strengthen their bodies to prepare for a healthy labor or help recovery after little ones are born.
Offering classes specifically tailored to the abilities of children as young as 2, Exceleration Tumbling and Cheer helps students hone their gymnastics fundamentals and their teamwork skills. Introductory sessions teach youths how to perform basic rolls, cartwheels, and back bends while developing the strength, coordination, and flexibility needed to master more demanding techniques. If students choose to continue, they can build on these fundamentals and master everything from back handsprings to self levitation before learning how to work together as a team in a competition or performance setting. The center welcomes competitive cheerleading squads as well as any casual tumbling enthusiasts, allowing everyone to practice on the same, regulation-size floorspace.