Youthful shrieks and the slap of feet on mats fill the air at Southwest Gymnastics Training Center, drifting past a climbing rope and floor-level trampoline. Coaches preside over the 10,500-square-foot facility, improving more than somersaults—they also help give kids the self-esteem and discipline to excel in school or run a successful ant farm. The safety-certified coaches encourage positive traits in their young charges during recreational and competitive classes for ages 18 months to 18 years. Designed to adhere to USA Gymnastics guidelines, the curriculum helps kids build skills in a logical order, ensuring that no one has to do a cartwheel before learning what a wheel is.
The coaches also teach trampoline and tumbling skills, occasionally retiring to the sidelines to supervise open gym sessions. During these unstructured play sessions, kids can safely experiment with any equipment or practice pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold medals. Recreational classes for girls aged 6–18, boys aged 6–18, little ones aged 18 months–5 years, and athletic action figures, as well as competitive classes for advanced-level acrobats. Tumbling and trampoline lessons build knowledge of the sport, with a bouncier surface than a circus seal's mattress.
The Phoenix New Times pick for Best Rock Club in 2010 and 2011, this live-music venue draws crowds that huddle around indoor and outdoor stages to groove and wail every night of the week. Concerts and festivals stage local bands, indie rockers, and national acts playing genres ranging from bluegrass and reggae to jam music and rock 'n' roll. Amid the big-name acts, the house upholds beloved traditions; Grateful Dead fanatics and people with tie-dyed flesh emerge to party on Sunday nights, and each Thursday, burgeoning starlets perform karaoke with the support of a full live band. Beside the outdoor stage, a spacious patio facilitates mingling under the sky's star-freckled firmament. At the indoor bar, barkeeps fill glasses with mixed drinks and brews while colorful lights flash against walls. Black leather couches and huge art canvases line the lounge area, and a dance floor carved before the stage affords up-close views of the passport stamps canvassing rock star's wrists. AZCentral noted: "Not far from Mill Avenue, the Sail Inn offers a whole different scene, with a cool vibe and laid-back people."
Dance can be healing. Studio founder Christie knows this better than anyone, having turned to sensual dance as an outlet after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her newfound practice not only set her on a healthier path, it also made her feel more confident and feminine as well. She was hooked, and opened Express MiE to share that same feeling with other women.
Today, Christie and her staff start each of Express MiE’s sultry fitness classes with a guided meditation. That’s because the studio prioritizes finding and trusting inner beauty over learning snazzy pole tricks. And while the moves are certainly sensual, they’re inspired less by the promiscuity of romance novels or flirtatious barbershop poles than by techniques from ballet, ballroom, and belly dancing. This winning combination led the Phoenix New Times to name the studio Best Place to Learn to Pole Dance in 2010, noting that the instructors “are serious about developing core strength and six-pack abs by wrapping and gyrating around poles and cheering each other on.”
A comprehensive health club for women, Luna Fitness helps clients understand their bodily needs during each monthly cycle through fitness classes and figure-shaping spa treatments. Burn up to 1,400 calories per session sans arson charges with two infrared body wraps, used to shrink cellulite and boost metabolism.
In 1966, Big Surf Waterpark founder Phil Dexter built his first model of a wave machine in his backyard, a place he affectionally named Tahiti Phil's. With some help, and several models later—including one assembled inside an abandoned billiards hall—he perfected the contraption, making it the centerpiece of his newly opened waterpark in 1969. Dexter's invention instantly snagged press from Time, Sports Illustrated, and Life, and today, it remains Big Surf Waterpark's 2.5-million-gallon keynote attraction. Over the years, despite Arizona's lack of rain or gigantic sprinkler, the park has managed to grow around the wave pool, and its current 20-acre campus features dozens of slides, rides, and areas for all ages. Big Surf's real estate has also played host to entertainment events, including concerts from Pink Floyd, Elton John, and the Beach Boys. New for this year, and in honor of Phil’s wave making machinery and his original backyard site where it all began, Big Surf has unveiled its own Tahiti Phil’s, a full service bar for adults over 21 that looks over the historic wave pool.
Housing numerous artifacts and anecdotes that catalog Arizona's near-100-year statehood, the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park takes visitors on a voyage through pivotal moments in the state's history. The museum's exhibits, like flashlights swallowed by a history book, illuminate the narratives of famous Arizonans—including the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor—and provide insight into Arizona's Japanese internment camps and Papago Park POW camps during World War II. With a mix of info-rich text, multimedia displays and hands-on learning, the exhibits keep visitors engaged and entertained, much like betrothals performed as rock ballads.