Heidi Lamar didn't know much about spas when she first purchased Spa Lamar. As she explained to reporters from Skin Inc., "not coming from a spa background, there were things I didn't know I couldn't do." Unhindered by industry conventions or previously fixed ideas, Heidi set about filling her 14,000-square-foot spa with innovative amenities—from a luxurious waterfall-fed pool to an onsite yoga and dance studio. She also cultivates locals instead of the typical resort crowd, banishing cacti from the decor in favor of a Caribbean-style ambiance that, as she told the Arizona Republic, caters to those who already live in Arizona and want to get away to a tropical island. Today, her media-lauded spa is the largest privately owned spa in Scottsdale and is frequented by locals, including members of the Phoenix Suns Dancers.
Before treatments that include massages, acupuncture, mani-pedis, and facials, guests garbed in fluffy complimentary robes duck into the steam room. They sample wholesome lunches and fruit plates from the tropical tea bar and relax in the sauna while waiting for a haircut or warm algae wrap. Sunbathers float around the pool on loungers, whereas others simmer in a bubbling whirlpool. Unlike many traditional spas, Spa Lamar is completely coed, making it an ideal place for couples that are on a first date or permanently trapped together inside a horse costume with a broken zipper.
Jacqui Bergmann had a lot to contend with—a divorce, depression, and a two-packs-a-day smoking habit. As she drove her son to the gym, she wondered what she should do to turn her life around. As it turns out, the answer was at the gym. Watching her son take a boxing lesson, Jacqui decided she wanted to give it a try. She traded her cigarettes for boxing gloves and felt her negative thoughts fade away to be replaced by a sense of confidence and empowerment.
Today, as owner of Glove Game Boxing, Jacqui gives guests this same feeling of empowerment through 30- and 60-minute boxing classes. Her team of trainers holds group and one-on-one lessons for men and women of all ability levels and goals, whether they just want to get in shape or to compete in amateur or professional circuits. They teach the same exercises used to drill the gym's pro pugilists—students learn about punching combinations, for example, and the importance of throwing at the X on King Hippo's stomach. The trainers emphasize proper form and technique so participants get the most out of each workout while minimizing the chance of injury. They also offer special training packages, including parent-child, postbaby, and wedding-day-countdown boot camps. To keep clients focused on the training and not the paperwork, Jacqui forgoes things such as long-term contracts and membership fees.
At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
Although La Vita E Bella Cafe is physically distant from its Italian roots, it preserves one of the most important parts of home: the coast. Seafood infuses its menu—from appetizers of garlic-marinated octopus to the Siciliana pizza, topped with tuna, onions, kalamata olives, and capers. The kitchen's emphasis on freshness persists beyond its sautéed prawns, though. Owner Giuseppe Forte heads out multiple times a week to purchase groceries for his chefs, ensuring that their bruschetta and pollo cacciatora contain crisp veggies and fresh herbs. Then there’s the crepes—three kinds enveloping such Old-World ingredients as champignon mushrooms and prosciutto di parma.
Yet it’s pizzas that form the base of the menu. More than 20 specialty-topping combinations include the salsiccia, which boasts sausage and broccoli, and the gorgonzola, which mixes its namesake cheese with walnuts. As diners match their slices to a selection from the sprawling wine list, they can tune in to the lilt of live accordion music, which evokes the ambiance of Italy's streets and keeps dates from trying to fill conversational pauses by reciting their favorite Matlock plotlines.
As a 23-year-old junior, Tom Hatten didn’t spend his evenings at the raucous parties or ice-cream socials associated with college life. Instead, he’d spend the waning hours of his evenings waiting by the dryer for the last batch of towels before collapsing into bed. In the morning, he would lug them to Mountainside Fitness, the gym he opened as a student that he has thrown all his energy into maintaining ever since.
Today, the humble 4,800-square-foot space has bloomed into nine gyms that average a sweeping 41,000 square feet. Tom’s vision of creating a friendly neighborhood gym that greets each guest with a warm towel underscores every decision he makes for the different locations, from the colorful kid-care spaces to the entertaining group fitness classes. Personal trainers plan regimens tailored to each client, helping them lose weight, build muscle, or target the muscles that will help build a better golf game. Clients can create their own routines with the help of cardio and weight machines, or explore the different amenities at each location, such as saunas, rock-climbing walls, and indoor basketball courts.
The sun reflects off the chassis of a crimson Cobra as its engine lets out a declarative roar. Suddenly, gears shift and the driver makes their way onto the track. At Racing Adventures, thrilling moments are a normal occurrence as instructors show visitors how to handle vintage racecars and exotic sports vehicles from the inside of the cockpit. In two models of American muscle cars, a Porsche 911, or a Carrera, guests taste the adrenaline rush of high-performance driving during full-day racing adventures, laps around racetracks, or excursions on skill-testing roads in Arizona and Colorado.
Racing Adventures’ team also educates thrill-seekers in more aggressive styles of driving in its school. After outfitting students with suits and helmets, instructors demonstrate the basic principles and advanced techniques of racing before letting students practice on a real racetrack. Students can take the wheel of a Cobra, Corvette, or Porsche during three levels of driving experiences, and graduates of the program earn a certificate of achievement.