For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.
So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.
Aspen Athletic Club amasses top-of-the-line equipment, seasoned trainers, and luxurious amenities within five gym spaces across Des Moines. A fleet of cardio and strength-training machinery from brands such as LifeFitness and Star Trac heavily populate the floors, allowing guests ample access to the equipment. In addition to a cardio theater, the Hickman gym boasts 12 onsite tennis courts and specialized studios for martial arts and women-only workouts. Visitors to the 14th Street location can sign up for aquatic classes or swim laps solo across the pool. Other amenities such as tanning, massage therapy, and gold-plated kettlebells vary from club to club.
Certified personal trainers plan out custom routines for clients, and highly qualified instructors lead Zumba steps, spinning seminars, and, at certain locations, fast-paced Les Mills classes. The professional staff also offer nutritional counseling at all locales.
At Downward Dog Yoga & Fitness, ancient poses fuel challenging workouts and traditional calisthenics summon inner peace. That's because both types of exercise have a common goal: bolstering health by building community. During the studio's signature Vinyasa class, yogis of all levels stretch and bend together, learning from each other as they follow the cues of a friendly, experienced teacher. The mesmerizing vocals of Sting and U2 join the pre-modern chants of Krishna Das to inspire students during deep-breathing exercises, which focus the mind as they dissolve stress. The temperature rises to 90 degrees for hot yoga and hot Pilates, helping loosen tight muscles and drain toxins from the body. Hot yoga builds strength and flexibility with sitting, standing, and inverted poses, whereas hot Pilates targets similar goals with core-sculpting isometrics and a focus on bodily alignment. Trainer-led boot camps explore the other end of the fitness spectrum with jumping jacks and burpees, which melt more calories than a fondue party at Richard Simmons's house. To unwind after class, students can book a massage-therapy appointment with Hannah Zahs, who infuses Swedish and shiatsu strokes with soothing essential oils.
Sponges and brushes glide across unfinished works of art beneath shelves brimming with more than 150 forms and 60 glazes at The Potters’ Obsession. Visitors thumb through inspiration books and wield stencils to color and paint mugs, bowls, and Gumby when he is going into witness protection. In the art-dappled space, warmth bleeds from a kiln, where the staff completes pieces and locks glazes into a sleek finish. The Potters’ Obsession also hosts special events, birthday parties, and painting packages to help Girl Scouts and Brownies to earn art badges.