The perception of pole dancing is changing. When Maureen Metzger and her business partner DJ Hamilton started Blush Pole Fitness & Dance six years ago, Maureen says, "people thought [the instructors] were strippers." Since then, she's seen attitudes adjust as pole dancing went from taboo to a possible Olympic sport. Maureen equates pole dancing with aerial arts, on par with performances seen in shows such as Cirque du Soleil. She leads a series of classes and workshops that focus on upper-body and core strength or hone in sensual spins and dances. "You can be sexy and sensual," Maureen says, "and it doesn’t have to be tasteless . . . I watch Dancing with the Stars, and I think that is way more sexual than anything we do."
Occasionally, she still has to spend some time fighting inaccurate stereotypes, including an episode in early 2012 that involved inviting Jim Stingl of the Journal Sentinel to studio for a fact-finding mission. But mostly, Maureen and DJ concern themselves with empowering women to be "strong physically and emotionally." There comes a time, she says, when "you stop feeling sexy, you age, you gain weight, you get so busy with other parts of your life. . . I think we lose [that] and [pole dancing] reminds us to be women." She credits pole dancing as a vital ally in boosting her self-esteem during a double mastectomy in her battle against breast cancer.
And though Maureen is the first to tout the power of pole dancing, she is also one of the first to undercut some of its weightier connotations, much like a doctor who uses a stethoscope that squeaks. "[We're] totally willing to laugh at ourselves," she says. "Nobody is taking this too seriously." The lighter mood, in particular, helps welcome shy students, who Maureen and DJ witness transform into "strong, confident, sexy, and feminine [women]."
The instructors at Kaivalya Yoga believe that, like yoga practitioners themselves, the rules of yoga should be highly flexible. They pioneer fresh approaches to Vinyasa techniques inside their University Square studio with the aim of inducing kaivalya—a state of freeing personal enlightenment. Heated and nonheated classes cover fluid posture transitions that synchronize breath with stretching rather than having students take one long breathing break halfway through class. Each session aims to eradicate the body's toxins and boost mental clarity, whether students are attending a free beginners workshop or hefting small weights during Power Sculpt.
Many of the teaching staff joined the yoga movement to combat physical ailments, such as slipped disks or chronic migraines, and now they deepen their practice through Kaivalya's inventive curriculum. They inject posing sequences with pieces of individual flair—Hally Marlino's classes embrace freestyle Vinyasa set to music, and director of teacher training Alex Pfeiffer leads groups through spiritually focused, dance-like routines. Certified massage therapists are also on hand to work muscles into an even noodlier state with Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports modalities.
Kaivalya Yoga's central location is no accident. Owners Dave and Tim met at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1998 and maintain ties with the school as an employee and a graduate student, respectively. They've engineered their venue and schedule to suit the student population: classes provide a meditative escape close to home, scheduling never interferes with Wisconsin Badgers games, and the boutique carries chic headbands, T-shirts, and hoodies from their exclusive Mad Yogi clothing line, ideal for moving from dorm to dining hall to yoga studio in comfort.
A two-story brick house from the late 1800s stands within walking distance of a wooden fur-trader’s cabin from the 1700s. Just down the road, cheesemongers and printmakers ply their time-honored trades behind open storefronts, and the ringing of a blacksmith’s hammer joins with the click of a digital camera’s shutter in a soundtrack several centuries in the making. It’s safe to say that Heritage Hill State Historical Park’s anachronistic blending of historical eras might confuse an uninformed onlooker, but visitors who know better will relish the park’s four outdoor areas, each of which depicts a unique period in Wisconsin’s history. The living-history museum sits on 50 acres along the banks of the Fox River and features more than 25 original and reconstructed buildings that illustrate the lives of their residents—a list that includes French-influenced fur traders, the federal occupants of Fort Howard, and Belgian immigrants. The museum’s curators have brought these former residents back to life through strange and unexpected means; the fur-trader’s cabin was discovered almost by accident by a demolition crew who found it hidden inside a larger house. In each of the park’s areas, historic interpreters dressed according to their time period divulge facts about the buildings’ histories and their inhabitants’ day-to-day lives, which often included hours of churning butter and playing 8-bit Atari games. Five of the original on-site buildings can be found on the National Register of Historic Places, and museum groundskeepers further ensure each area’s historical accuracy by planting period-appropriate trees and plants. Tours take visitors of all ages on regular journeys through the past, and museum staffers organize field trips and summer camps especially for youth groups. Seasonal events include craft workshops, live concerts, and raucous fiddle-shredding contests.
America's Action Territory encourages family bonding through amusements in session year-round indoors and seasonally outdoors. During warm weather, the park staff operates six outdoor activities, from bumper boats in a 75,000-gallon pool, go-karts on an over 1,000-foot long track, to a water balloon battle with depth-charged orbs. Back inside, kids can enter the smoky, black-lit laser-tag arena to demonstrate who is most deserving of parents' love, or challenge their progenitors to skee-ball at the arcade. Between games, an eatery supplies patrons with refreshments such as sandwiches, chicken strips, and pizzas on crust made without gluten or lasers. For special occasions, Action Territory's team can also arrange birthday parties and organize group packages.
The curators of Bounce & Play's indoor playground want to see kids exercising and developing motor skills. To accomplish this, they fill their plush facility with seven bounce houses, air-filled obstacle courses, and games such as ping-pong and air hockey. For adults, they stock the center's bright storefront with coffee and snacks. Additionally, the playground's toddler area lets little ones younger than aged 3 crawl through tunnels and play with toys without encountering the competitive spirit of older kids who talk about nothing but math and literature.
The servicemen of Pearl Harbor's naval base were taking some much-needed R&R between early-morning repairs inside Hangar 37 when suddenly they heard a buzzing overhead. With the humming of their own planes and battleships periodically filling the air, this rapidly approaching sound wasn't foreign to their ears, but this instance proved to be drastically different. Thunderous explosions soon overtook Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona struggled to stay afloat as the Imperial Japanese Navy delivered a surprise military strike, which resulted in one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. With a mission to preserve the history of this tragic event, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor opened that very same hangar to the public, hundreds of feet from where ships burned and men courageously fought more than 70 years ago.
Hangar 37's 42,000-square-foot space currently houses many of the museum's artifacts, which include a World War II–era B-25B bomber, Japanese Zero, and naval planes such as the SBD Dauntless. Also open to the public, Hangar 79 displays the actual bullet holes that pierced its windows during the attack, while an authentic WWII maintenance shop contains an exhibit that explains how planes ran on Lucky Strike cigarette materials. Visitors can experience the museum's ever-evolving collection of exhibits––which has included segments dedicated to the Korean War's MiG Alley and the Flying Tigers––through guided tours in both hangars and submerse themselves in the virtual world of the museum's combat flight simulator.