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.
Local thespians Matt McAuley and Richard Vines banded together with the Dysart Community Education Department to conceptualize Ghostlight Theatre on the tenets of entertaining and educating the community with the dramatic arts. The theatre's live productions give members of the community an opportunity to flex their theatrical muscles through acting, designing costumes, and pursuing careers as prop trees. Meanwhile, Ghostlight Theatre’s summer camps prepare budding thespians aged 10–18 for their moments in the spotlight.
UltraStar Cinemas cossets moviegoers in cushy seating as they enjoy Hollywood hits alongside buttery servings of popcorn. Film buffs can peruse the current showtimes to handpick an action-packed flick, romantic comedy, or chilling thriller featuring inexplicably aggressive hamsters. The concession stand outfits moviegoers with snacks, drinks, and buckets filled with warm kernels, keeping stomach grumblings to a minimum during showings and providing crunchy projectiles in case of sudden younger-sibling attacks.
In 1998, after 25 years operating health clubs across Phoenix, Kelly Bruce jumped at the opportunity to open his own club, Fitness 1 Gym. Today, Fitness 1 has expanded to locations across Phoenix, each and every one helmed by Kelly and his sons Chad, Richard, and Bobby. “We don’t just own them,” Chad proudly says, “we run them and we’re in the clubs everyday.” The amenities are certainly attractive, but it seems that what has really made Fitness 1 successful is the Bruce's dedication to their family-run enterprise. “I think that our members feel at home,” says Bobby. “I think [they] realize that it’s not a show… they're coming in here to get to work, to get results.”
Members—who are not forced into long-term contracts—can do just that thanks to an array of cardio and strength-training machines, free weights, and one-on-one personal training. The studio also offers members free fitness classes, such as Power Yoga, Chiseled, and Xplode—an interval-training class.
Ray Heon’s friends and family describe him as a man who had a big heart, a part of which was devoted to the Washington Redskins. These traits inspired the name for The Big Red 5K, a race established to celebrate Ray’s life after he died of cancer last November. Participants are welcome to run or walk the course, which begins at Lyman Memorial High School, loops around the Lebanon Green, and then ends at the Jonathan Trumbull Library. It’s fitting that those two buildings bookend the race, as a portion of all proceeds will be used to donate technological devices to them.
Runners can commemorate their day by posing for photographers before or after the race, and they each receive a race packet with a T-shirt, race bib, and swag from the race sponsors. Participants or robots at the end of their battery packs can also opt to complete just a small segment of the race (one lap around the Lebanon Green). Those there to cheer runners on can spend the day listening to live music and visiting the food and merchandise vendors.
When the macabre minds behind Chambers of Fear opened their first haunt more than 20 years ago, their bone-chilling scares filled only a three-car garage. Over the years, though, the attractions have grown to encompass everything from haunted corn mazes and scream cams to infinitely long algebra tests. These days, the experience stretches more than 25,000 square feet, with high-tech animatronics, creative scares, and traditional maniacs scattered among three haunted houses: Scary Tales, Darkness: Industrial Nightmare, and Chambers of Fear. Including "some of the best scares in the industry," according to Ed Edmunds of Travel Channel's Making Monsters, the sprawling spookfest startles with bloodied ghouls and manifest phobias alike.