The Chinese Shao-Lin Center's masters teach the ancient Chinese art of Shao-Lin kung fu, a mixture of self-defense and meditation that's considered essential for health and longevity. Inside a peaceful, welcoming space, students ages 12 and up of all fitness and skill levels are invited to enlist in various classes in the external arts and internal arts. Learn to defend yourself against aggressors, or send a message to threatening mannequins in one of various kung fu classes. Or find peace between muscle and mind in a tai chi session, which connects gentle, flowing movements with breathing exercises. The center's specialty classes, available two to three times each month, cover a range of topics designed to empower bodies, minds, and cinder blocks' rights activists and might focus on kicking techniques or meditation.
Drum & Drummer instructor Erik Truelove knows how to improvise. When the country-rocker and four-time winner of the National Association of Music Merchants' World's Most Accurate Drummer title found himself at a TV gig with no cymbals, he simply pulled the license plates off his car and attached them to his kit, he reported to the Tucson Citizen in 2009. This spirit of flexibility and quick thinking is something he passes along to his students in both group and private lessons. Other instructors—all working musicians—join in that goal backed by expertise in hand drumming, R&B grooves, jazz improvisation, and competitive marching percussion.
To mark progress and keep motivation levels kicking, the school uses a program of Truelove's own devising. Modeled on karate's belt system, sets of colored drumsticks provide a vivid reminder of the skills students have conquered. To advance in rank, they must master their level's set of grooves, fills, and concepts, then perform a predetermined song at the school's performance center. Class sizes are typically capped at 10 students to ensure lots of one-on-one assistance and keep the downstairs neighbors from constantly calling the cops with noise complaints.
Located on the University of Arizona’s campus, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium opens the eyes of all ages to the scientific wonders of our planet, solar system, and universe. The center houses a mineral collection that dates back to 1892, and now holds more than 26,000 specimens including meteorites and minerals from Arizona, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world. They also feature exhibits such as an exploration of Arizona’s Sky Islands—mountains that rise above the desert basins and shelter myriad plants, birds, and animals. Other exhibits include Mars: Up Close and Personal, which features a scale model of the red planet’s surface.
A partner gym of Rocks & Ropes, The Bloc climbing + fitness is a 20,000 square-foot, air-conditioned rock-climbing destination. Inside, a dozen autobelays allow visitors to make high, harness-assisted ascents. Or, you can test your bouldering skills on a 7,000 square-foot wall. In addition, the gym offers yoga, meditation, and pilates classes in its 2nd-story heartSTONE studio, welcoming both beginners and experts. The gym also includes cardio and weight equipment for those looking for a vigorous exercise or a heart-to-heart talk with a treadmill.
There’s always a need for good bartenders, and since 2000, the Bartending Academy of Tucson has done its part in satisfying that demand. A state-licensed learning facility, the academy pours mixing know-how into the minds of its students inside an interactive classroom—an actual, working bar. Here, instructors give students hands-on experience concocting a range of traditional and modern drinks, taking their cue from Ernest Hemingway’s short-lived high-school teaching career. For students who graduate from the two-week professional-bartending class, the academy provides placement assistance throughout the Tucson area.
Admission is normally $18 for adults, $10 for children ages 6–17, and $14 for students and seniors over 55. Children under 5 are admitted for free. The museum is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Click here for a schedule of Science Downtown's hours.