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.
It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp December dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.
For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Gilbert Civic Center for the Classic––a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.
Scott Barclay, a former gymnastics champion and current coach of ASU men's gymnastics team, dreamed of opening a facility to help young kids discover gymnastics. In turn, Aspire Kids Sports Center began with recreational gymnastics for kids as young as 15 months. Through time, the organization—headed by Scott and his wife, Donna—grew to include classes for martial arts, swimming, and cheer.
At Aspire's present 32,000-square-foot facility, instructors help fledgling gymnasts traverse an 80-foot tumble track on multiple trampolines. For tykes, there's a wealth of preschool gymnastics equipment, while more advanced gymnastics teams can compete on spring competition floors. Or take advantage of the indoor heated swimming pool with movable platforms, where you can immerse yourself in year-round swimming lessons and stage performances of The Little Mermaid.
At Inner Vision Yoga, yoga isn't just a form of exercise, it's a lifestyle. The company hosts more than 100 classes a week across two locations, with a style—hot, vinyasa, yin, kundalini—to suit any type of yoga devotee. What's more, the classes are divided into four tiers, ranging from "soothing and powerful" to "it's a workout", so newcomers can easily identify classes that will help them build a foundation for future practice. The center even offers a kids' yoga class where students ages 5-12 can strengthen their imaginations, as well as their bodies.
In addition to classes, Inner Vision Yoga educates the next generation of yogis through teacher-certification programs. The calendar of events also includes week-long yoga retreats, which are packed with activities and workshops and held at exotic locations such as Japan, the Caribbean, and the primate enclosure at the local zoo.
Lauded by the Phoenix New Times as the best indoor skate park in town, Xtreme Air Jump 'N Skate captures 30,000 square feet of adrenaline-tinged family fun and transforms it into a high-flying jump park and a custom-designed skate park.The park's 54 connected trampolines, velcro wall, and Slamball courts provide ample entertainment for those without boards, and skateboarders and scooters can launch into the foam pit and rip the rails and ramps at the 10,000-square-foot park while attentive staff monitor them closely. Near the skate park, the Little Xtremers park pumps up inflatable castles where children aged 5 and younger can perform bouncing renditions of Hamlet. Parents can await playing progeny at the Grind Cafe, watch their kids on the large screen viewing TV, or just relax in the Parents' Lounge.
Armed with swift pitches, brawny line drives, and a division-topping season record, the Arizona Diamondbacks sprint toward their first National League West crown since 2007. Instead of catching the game by posing as the new bat-hoarding termite inspector, fans can watch the action from baseline-reserve seats along the left- and right-field foul lines. This season, right-handed hurler J.J. Putz baffled 9th-inning hitters while posting 51 strikeouts, 39 saves, and a mega-slim 2.44 ERA over 51.2 innings pitched. After 148 games, right fielder Justin Upton marches toward his 600th career hit while lugging 86 RBIs, a .296 batting average, and a tuba signed by John Philip Sousa.