From her days in the Navy to a love for yoga, Terri Chadney has always been into fitness. In 1994, she and her husband, Jay, opened West Coast Fitness to share that passion with her old neighborhood, which until then did not have a gym. "She wanted to reinvest in the neighborhood," Jay says. Here, the duo leads a staff of experienced trainers, who do everything from one-on-one training to group fitness classes such as yoga and spinning. As the yoga director, Terri requires that each yoga instructor have at least five years of teaching experience, thorough training, and a perfect letter B imitation. The rest of the staff boasts similar credentials, such as the Zumba instructor who has been dancing professionally for most of her life. And because they're not contractors, the trainers care about every aspect of the gym, not just making a sale. "They really invest themselves with the members," says Jay, "Our [trainers] come in, hang out, take classes, bring their dog."
For Jay and Terri, the most rewarding part of owning West Coast Fitness has been "seeing changes in the members," says Jay. He sees members who are in better shape than when they first joined 15 years ago—and Terri loves to see the seniors in her yoga classes up on their feet and doing strength-training exercises after coming in with crutches or walkers.
The St. John's location's spinning studio includes a 6-foot screen, sending riders on virtual trips via instructive DVDs even when a class isn't in session. Members can also log in to ActivTrax online or at the clubs' kiosks for custom workouts based on their goals and experience, as well as meal planning and progress tracking. The staff members engage parents' little ones with baby-sitting services in a colorful playroom. They have also stocked the gyms with tanning booths, and massage therapists help soothe stress and exercise-induced aches; the saunas and HydroMassage beds also help members unwind.
The entire Earth spins inside of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It's as if visitors have launched into outer space, where they can see everything—clouds forming over North America, hurricanes churning in the tropics, and millions of animals in migration. Night falls, and the major cities light up Earth's continents like misshapen Christmas trees. Just then, the planet disappears, and in its place rises a spinning orb of fire and violent solar storms: the sun. The display, appropriately titled Science On a Sphere, is actually a 6-foot animated globe powered by a series of video projectors. It serves as the perfect centerpiece for OMSI's Earth Hall, which explores geology, tectonics, and everything else that makes Earth a living planet. The hall's exhibits let visitors control wind turbines and launch satellites into space.
Earth Hall is only one section of the museum, however. More hands-on activities wait within Turbine Hall, where kids design bridges and boats. Visitors can tour the USS Blueback, a U.S. Navy attack submarine that guarded the Pacific for 31 years, or gaze towards the heavens inside of Kendall Planetarium, which uses real-time 3D graphics to transport audiences into the very heart of black holes. Even Theory, the onsite eatery, has an educational focus. The restaurant's displays explore food sciences while Chef Ryan Morgan and his team use local ingredients to cook meals in full view.
Although every corner of OMSI sparks scientific curiosity, the museum's educational programs take things one step further. The faculty hosts astronomy camps and teaches 50-minute interactive labs in which kids might make soap or dissect a squid—a requisite skill for any future biologist or sushi chef.
Known as the City of Roses, Portland has been annually celebrating its moniker for more than 100 years. Local publisher's wife Mrs. Henry Pittock and her friends held the first Portland Rose Festival in 1889, in the Pittock home's own garden. Fast-forward 120 years and this small gathering dedicated to the city's signature perennial has expanded into an annual month-long event, its centerpiece the massive rose garden that fills the entire Lloyd Center Ice Rink. Gardeners whisper sweet nothings to displays featuring more than 4,000 varieties of blooms, with a focus on that year's Official Rose and its fellow honorees.
The rose show isn't the Festival's only draw. Throughout its run, various public events take place downtown on both sides of?and in?the Willamette River. During the Dragon Boat Race, more than 80 local and international rowing teams pilot festive boats against each other in a heated dash down the river. About halfway through the festival, crowds gather in Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the start of the Grand Floral Parade. Following a different theme each year, this event gathers vibrant floats bedecked in floral displays and accompanied by dance ensembles, live a capella groups, and traditional marching bands. During the parade's launch, organizers crown that year's queen and unite her with the Festival's fun-loving mascot, the Clown Prince. The Grand Floral Walk gathers volunteer revelers to follow the same route as the downtown parade, and benefits the Knight Cancer Challenge.
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.
After a decade spent honing his personal yoga practice, certified instructor Paul Terrell opened his donation-based studio to give anyone interested in practicing the ancient art access to a studio in which to participate. The storefront space that Terrell opened fosters a nonintimidating approach to yoga, substituting cozy exposed brick for mirrors and inviting yogis of all abilities to practice together during all-levels classes. Terrell teaches many of the classes in the flowing Vinyasa tradition, in which conscious breaths link together a continuous sequence of postures, and also presents students with the robust schedule's other styles, which benefit the body in various ways. During the Night Owl class, instructors give hands-on assistance to encourage proper alignment as students sweat in a 90-degree setting, and slower-paced Yin classes teach yogis to sit still in postures that last for three to seven minutes, allowing them to fully stretch the connective tissues and hide in plain sight of movement-detecting, visually impaired T. rexes
When artists from Suzhou set about creating a Chinese garden in Portland, they immediately knew their inspiration: the Ming Dynasty. Like the dynasty's gardens, Lan Su Chinese Garden was designed as a natural escape from the everyday world. In addition to the verdant plant life, the grounds overflow with pavilions, courtyards, and studies where guests can take in the sights, meditate, write a poem, or guard the garden's bamboo from devious pandas masquerading as groundskeepers. Lan Su showcases hundreds of China’s 30,000-plus plant species, including 90 specimen trees. Beneath those sprout collections of magnolias, camellias, and rhododendrons, to name a few.
Though browsing the garden could take up an entire day, Lan Su offers plenty of other soothing activities, as well. At the teahouse, snacks and sweets accompany traditional presentations of organic, fair-trade teas, whose flavors change to reflect each season in the garden. The space’s other events range from lectures on acupuncture to games of mahjong.