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.
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.
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.
Running between towering buildings and vibrant gardens, Gray Line of Portland's trolley sightseeing tours connect visitors with more than 11 of the Rose City's storied landscapes and buildings. As guides regale them with historic facts, anecdotes, and Herbert Hoover's credit card number, passengers look out onto Pioneer Courthouse Square, Washington Park, Powell's Books, and the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Participants can disembark and re-board at any point along their tour, allowing them to explore each site up-close or grab a bite to eat. Guides also lead combination tours via bus outside city limits to Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge or jet boat along the Columbia River, with both routes tracing the original journey of Lewis and Clark. Operating as a member of Gray Line Worldwide––which leads tours in more than 700 destinations on six continents––Gray Line of Portland donates a portion of all ticket proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundations' efforts in supporting awareness and research.
Movable walls, luminous rocks, mirrors, ramps, and unexpected dead ends. These are just a few of the obstacles players face at Ultrazone Laser Tag, a two-level, 5,000-square-foot arena that, much like a spring-break DJ?s apartment, is always flooded with black light and fog. Before separating up to 36 players into three teams and setting them loose in the arena, a game master delivers rules and moves teammates to the vesting room, where they grab lasers and flashing vests. As the beat of pulsing music hammers the arena, players stream into the field, launching beams at opponents and attempting to seize their strongholds. When players are hit they aren't eliminated from the action; a computer keeps a running tally of points throughout the mission and awards champion status to the team with the highest count after the game. The facility also includes an arcade packed with video games as well as air-hockey tables, pinball, and a snack area.
The three Oregon Athletic Clubs welcome members into an oasis of healthy living, each developed to encourage those aspiring to wellness to reach their fitness goals. In addition to cardio and weight equipment for solo workouts, personal trainers tailor workouts to meet individual goals and lead group yoga and Pilates sessions to strengthen and flex physiques. As parents pedal into shape in the cycling studio or unwind at the onsite spa, kids can caper about or discuss their investment portfolios in the childcare center.
At each location, patrons can practice not drowning in the indoor pools and then retire to relaxation at the locker-room saunas. The Hawthorn Farm Athletic Club invites members to splash into the outdoor pool and lounge on the lawn and patio. To refuel for the day’s cartwheel quota, the clubs’ restaurants dish up light fare including salads and paninis.