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 Home Builders Foundation, which constructs shelters and transitional housing for the homeless.
The light of a projector first hit the Hollywood Theatre's screen in 1926. Since then, this cinema has changed with the times—at various points serving as a Cinerama and a second-run discount movie house. After a near-closure and a nearly 15-year renovation, the building re-emerged as a non-profit, independent cinema. Today, Hollywood Theatre screens about 300 films a year, ranging from classic Hollywood and genre films to newer independent movies and quirky blockbusters.
The core of the theatre's programming, however, is its signature series. Programs such as Kung Fu Theater and Sound + Vision aim to restore classic films' spectacle to the silver screen. Outside the auditorium, Hollywood Theatre hosts educational workshops on topics such as animation, documentary filmmaking, and chiseling your own star onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cinema's Spanish Colonial Revival building retains much of its historic charm. At the top of a curving staircase lies a lounge with plush antique furnishings and signage. Inside the main auditorium—the house's original orchestra level—films blaze to life on a 50-foot screen and a digital surround-sound system. On the theater's original balcony level, two smaller venues with just more than 110 seats provide a more intimate viewing experience.
The inspiration behind Rise Dance+Lab, a dance school for children aged 3–14, isn't what you might expect. Evie Graham originally established Vega Dance Lab, a studio exclusively for adult students, when she noticed a glut of kids' dance studios in her search for classes she could take herself. Of course, Evie is a parent herself, and though she found plenty of dance studios her kids could attend, most were far away from downtown Portland. So with one successful dance studio under her belt, Evie and her husband Joe founded Rise Dance+Lab, a studio in the center of the city where kids could discover and hone skills in diverse styles of dance. There, younger dancers begin with classes such as Tutu Cute or Turn! Jump! Leap!, which explore movement and teach the basics of dance and class etiquette. As kids get older, they begin developing more polished moves in styles such as hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary, even working toward injecting the choreography with their own experiences and feelings to give their moves more emotional depth and find a method of expression that can't be stolen and read by a nosy sibling.
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.