For the Banzai Physical Challenge, young warriors must face a dastardly foe: mud. Throughout a two-mile course, kids must brave the mess as they scale a hay mountain, take on a technically engineered ¼ pipe, rope swing, and mud crawl. Youngsters ages 7–17 can opt to tackle the muddy obstacle course on their own, with an adult, or with an altruistic pig that can carry them to the end.
After rinsing off at the cleanup area, participants can explore Banzai's other kid-friendly attractions, including tug-of-war, inflatable obstacle courses, and bounce houses. Warriors can unwind with chair massages, adorn their arms with glitter tattoos, groove to tunes spun by live DJs, or replenish themselves with food and drink. There's even a beer garden for the adults.
The zombie-themed Queen Creek Running Dead 5K has a greater purpose than scaring participants into running from the undead hordes hungry for brains. The race—held the weekend before Halloween—benefits local schools by funneling the proceeds to the Queen Creek Schools Education Foundation for scholarships and teacher grants.
Lauded by reporters from Tropolism as "the coolest yoga studio of all time," and available for rental for private events, Yoga Deva was designed by Phoenix-based architects Blank Studio to serve as a calming sanctuary from the zooming cars and bustling sidewalks of the outside world. Long, walnut benches and a radiant-blue wall greet visitors in the front lobby, drawing them toward a sunlit yoga room with towering mirrors and white, wavy ceilings.
Serenity and balance in the studio is a must for owner, Shosh, who aims to deepen the mind-body awareness of all who enter. At the studio, she uses all natural modern technology to promote pain relief and anti-aging benefits. After sustaining numerous injuries during her two-decade career as a professional ballet dancer, Shosh found relief through inner reflection, which she harnessed during her time as a body-centered psychotherapist, and movement. Today, she channels her love of meditation and physical action into yoga, helming a team of certified instructors who lead classes in a variety of styles ranging from Vinyasa flow to Yin yoga. Sessions cater to students of all levels and can be modified to personally cater to clients. During each session, they guide students through poses and stretches designed to soothe the mind, heal the body, and enhance flexibility. The instructors strive to create a sanctuary of silence in the yoga room, requesting that guests leave all cellphones, pagers, and singing animatronic trout in the dressing room.
After earning reputations as elite trainers throughout the East Valley, NASM-certified personal trainers Luis Galindo and Jeremy Jones pooled 30 years of combined fitness experience to cofound Funktional Fitness. At their custom-designed studio in downtown Gilbert, they waive the monotony of gym machines and treadmill stacking for workouts based on functional movements—actions relevant to everyday living. Their regimens and nutrition programs encourage guests to embody the studio's 10 core values, which include "unity," "embrace change," and "strive to be 1% better each day."
Rather than roping its clients into memberships, Funktional Fitness allows them to customize their training plans according to the TMDA (think, motivate, decide, and act) model. One-on-one and semiprivate sessions stress individual feedback, whereas GroupFit classes combine the intimate instruction of private lessons with the camaraderie of book clubs that meet to tear dictionaries in half. Patrons might battle their own body weight with TRX suspension cords, swing kettlebells, or flow through yoga poses during their visits, building strength in a welcoming environment infused with competitive drive.
As a 23-year-old junior, Tom Hatten didn’t spend his evenings at the raucous parties or ice-cream socials associated with college life. Instead, he’d spend the waning hours of his evenings waiting by the dryer for the last batch of towels before collapsing into bed. In the morning, he would lug them to Mountainside Fitness, the gym he opened as a student that he has thrown all his energy into maintaining ever since.
Today, the humble 4,800-square-foot space has bloomed into nine gyms that average a sweeping 41,000 square feet. Tom’s vision of creating a friendly neighborhood gym that greets each guest with a warm towel underscores every decision he makes for the different locations, from the colorful kid-care spaces to the entertaining group fitness classes. Personal trainers plan regimens tailored to each client, helping them lose weight, build muscle, or target the muscles that will help build a better golf game. Clients can create their own routines with the help of cardio and weight machines, or explore the different amenities at each location, such as saunas, rock-climbing walls, and indoor basketball courts.