Amid cacti and brush, beneath milk-white clouds, Cocoraque Trail Ranch & Pavillion's sprawling desert scenery makes it impossible to discern whether it's 1890 or the twenty-first century—and it hardly matters. Wranglers and ranch hands still work as they did more than a century ago when Señor Benito Robles homesteaded the rustic ranch. Today, Tucson native and third-generation cattle rancher Jesus Arvizu is at the helm. Under his guidance, ranch hands rise before sun up to shoe and groom horses, mend fences, and film commercials for blue jeans.
Upon arrival to the 16,000-acre ranch, visitors step into the time of cowboys and cattle. A red-dobe ranch house built in the 1890s facilitates cookouts with a mesquite-fired grill and an adjacent picnic area. Aspirant riders can team up with seasoned wranglers and ranch hands to participate in genuine cattle drives, herding livestock in their signature "V" formation. For large-scale old-timey gatherings, the ranch's open-air pavilion accommodates weddings, birthdays, and parties with a saloon-style bar, a covered eating area, a dance floor, and a bonfire pit.
The polymath instructors at Tucson Circus Arts prepare participants for the performance arts or self-betterment with a wide range of curricula that encompasses circus, dance, music, martial arts, and theater. Through activities such as stilt walking and aerial-silk acrobatics, visitors improve flexibility, strengthen the upper body, and challenge the mind.
At APEX, staff lead MMA practitioners through practical workouts that teach "battle-tested" techniques to use in the cage. Both experienced athletes and newcomers are welcome to attend classes that range from grappling and striking to kids MMA and yoga.
The rich history of kenpo karate stretches as far back as the second century AD, when the number two was invented and renowned surgeon Hua T’o devised defensive exercises based on animal poses. The Asian sport continued to evolve over the intervening years, and in the 20th century, Ed Parker imported kenpo to the states and became not only the senior grandmaster of American kenpo, but also the “father of American Kenpo.” Today, Ed Parker Jr. carries on his father’s legacy as a member of the Master Council that presides over American Institute of Kenpo, along with other kenpo greats such as ninth-degree black belt Sigung Stephen LaBounty. The team of experts offers a guiding presence at the institute—Ed drops in for yearly camps and senior black-belt testing—and ensures the internationally certified instructors teach kenpo karate with the utmost attention to the principles of the sport.
Though kenpo is derived from ancient techniques, it encompasses contemporary self-defense and fitness methods. In the first lesson, students power through all the basics—the five ranges of combat and how to move swiftly—and form a sturdy foundation for increased strength, coordination, and flexibility. The center offers a wide range of programs for all ages and ability levels so that new pupils can master kenpo quickly and ascend through the belt-oriented ranks toward black.
Kimberly Aguirre began dancing at the age when most kids are learning to write. She wore her dancing shoes all the way through college, earning five different certifications before light-tripping her way to the head of a dance studio in a local community center. Under her leadership, the studio expanded to a standalone facility and became Pointe of Grace. With a curriculum drawn from Aguirre's extensive background, instructors teach tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop to everyone from adults to teens and toddlers. Her Zumba classes hit the ground running as she infuses the Latin-dance-based class with her shimmying prowess. Students looking for the fitness benefits of functional movement without wanting to feel threatened that the rhythm is going to get them can tone and limber muscles in one of Pointe of Grace’s yoga classes.
Across three Tucson locations, Boxing Inc.'s instructors develop their classes based on the training regimens of real-life fighters, encouraging guests to bob and weave at their own pace. Students skip rope, pummel hanging bags, heave medicine balls, and push through cardio workouts to condition their muscles as they hone techniques in their choice of combat style. Muay thai kickboxing techniques demand strikes from all four limbs, and grappling classes teach takedowns from styles including judo, wrestling, and Brazilian jujitsu. For a cumulative battle strategy, MMA courses blend maneuvers from each school, inciting suspenseful spars between pupils not seen since the six-hour bare-knuckle boxing match between James Kelly and Jonathan Smith on December 3, 1855.