While many Americans may think they know Chuck Norris because of the way his on-screen persona has roundhouse kicked its way into our hearts, few have actually met the man. Fewer, in fact, have been bestowed a sixth-degree black belt from Master Norris in his chun-kuk-do martial-arts system. But the founder of Ultima Self-Defense and Fitness LLC, Charles Allen, has.
Mr. Allen takes seriously his role in building confidence and shaping role models throughout the community, which is why he handpicks each of his center’s instructors. These instructors cater to diverse fitness and self-defense expectations, including adults looking to cut a competitive edge into their lives with mixed martial arts, a form of training that schools students in the sparring, grappling, and takedown techniques popularized by the caged sport. For energetic, high-energy exercise, KravFit uses kettlebells to achieve total-body toning and conditioning. Kids' programs include krav-maga self-defense classes as well as birthday parties that challenge celebrants to cut their cake with only their forearm.
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.
Over the last three decades, dance guru Kathryn Ferguson has dedicated her career to practicing and teaching the art of belly dancing. First exposed to the form in Casablanca, Morocco, Kathryn continues to put her own spin on belly dancing’s traditional hip shakes and tummy undulations, releasing a series of instructional video tapes and leading classes in her Tucson studio. These Egyptian- and Lebanese-style belly-dancing classes accommodate beginning and intermediate dancers looking to get in shape or shake up the annual family-reunion talent show. The studio's bright yellow walls create an upbeat environment, and full-length mirrors allow them to check for proper form and keep tabs on emerging six packs. In addition to teaching classes at Xanadu Dance Studio, Kathryn also helms the Xanadu Dancers Troupe, which performs regularly at dance- and music-focused events such as the Mediterranean Nights gala.
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.
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.