Best of Utah 2009: Active Life | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2009: Active Life 

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Eliza James

We love Eliza James. She’s bouncy, loud, aggressive, direct, muscular and enthused by her mission: to teach women (and men) the joys and benefits of boxing. An hour session with her is a grueling experience. Squat thrusts, push-ups, running—and that’s just the first five minutes. In her small, airy studio in Sugar House, she saves the best for last—shadow boxing, then putting on the gloves and practicing your jabs and crosses. A workout with James doesn’t just pump up the body, it pumps up the self esteem, too. But there’s a master plan behind this: to build up a gym and a group of fighters who will do her proud in the ring. James inspires loyalty and passion in her followers, so expect great things from this charismatic boxing maestro.
1983 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-8269

Under the direction of Shilo Jackson and Davina Pallone, Kayo has not only maintained founder Kenny Riches’ original vision of a small-town gallery with a big-city feel but also has blossomed into the place to catch emerging talent. Locals exhibit monthly with the occasional out-of-state guest including San Francisco’s Oyster Pirates sharing wall space with Utah artist Sri Whipple. And, when the unknowns become big deals, they return to the place that first gave them complete control of their work and presentation.
177 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0080,
2. Phillips Gallery
3. Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Wasatch Tango

Argentine tango is not just a dance—it’s an attitude, an ideal to live by. And when you fall in love with the tango, your relationship with music, your body and the world around you is never quite the same. Wasatch Tango is a group of people dedicated to promoting tango in the valley. At the heart of these valiant tango lovers are a number of teachers, notably the crisp, aesthetic stylist Nicholas Walker and Italian architect Marco Bagnasacco, who have led the effort to teach Salt Lakers the sensual bliss that is a beautifully executed tango. Study with Walker, Bagnasacco and the other teachers, and with enough determination and patience, you will discover that each tango step brings you closer to ecstasy.

Old Greektown

That dimly lit stretch of West 200 South was, for a while, one of the sketchier areas in town, better known for its homeless shelter than for its shopping, restaurants or nightlife. Those few intrepid businesses that did manage to carve out a niche in the urban jungle were done in by TRAX construction (like Orbit Cafe, may it rest in peace), or nearly were (fortunately, Hong Kong Café is doing fine—long may it prosper). When the Old Greektown station went online in 2008, it was like a fresh breeze blowing in—and the area is fast becoming one of Salt Lake City’s funkiest fresh neighborhoods.

Lagoon’s OdySea

During all those visits to Disneyland over the years, have you ever stopped and thought, “Wouldn’t this be even more awesome if I was getting sprayed in the face?” Lagoon’s OdySea, which opened in 2008, introduces a water-oriented theme to the classic spin-and-fly ride, as rider-controlled gondolas allow you to cruise above, below or directly into the paths of water jets.
375 N. Lagoon Drive, Farmington,

Scandinavian Heritage Festival

It doesn’t take more than a glance at a Utah phone book—with all its various Jensens, Christensens and Sorensens—to realize that plenty of natives trace their heritage back to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. Every year, more than 10,000 people come out on Memorial Day weekend (May 21-23, 2009) to celebrate that heritage at Snow College in Ephraim. Attend the Scandinavian Heritage Conference to listen to classic storytelling in the style of Hans Christian Andersen, or enjoy a little Scandinavian supper. In Sanpete County each May, everyone is velkommen.

Tanner Park
Trail redesigns may change the dynamics of this popular spot for pooches and their humans, but it’s sure to remain a favorite whether the canines are on-leash or off. Enjoy the walking paths of the park itself, or venture into the gully (plastic bag at the ready, naturally) to mix and mingle with the other pets and their owners. Fences keep the nearby freeway from being a risk to pets, while the creek and trails offer plenty of places to explore and play.
2760 S. 2700 East, Salt Lake City
2. Liberty Park
3. Millcreek Canyon

Super powers are within reach at iFly, an Ogden-based facility equipped with a bona-fide vertical wind tunnel. Though not for the faint of heart, iFly delivers a serious adrenaline rush without the risks of conventional skydiving or bungee jumping. Flight packages include pre-flight training, gear and one-on-one sessions with instructors. And, if your family is bored with Monday Night Bowling, swap it out with iFly’s Family Fun Night, when kids under 12 fly for free. Up, up and away!
2261 Kiesel Ave. Suite 201, Ogden, 801-528-5348,

Erin Geesaman Rabke

Suffer the effects of Earth’s gravity long enough and you, too, will begin to find evidence that your body is trashed. Those random aches and pains will gain the upper hand, and all your glory days as conquering rugby hero or snowboarder dude will seem like a cruel joke. What to do? Find out when and where Erin Geesaman Rabke is holding her next restorative yoga retreat. These workshops are all about finding the most comfortable position imaginable and breathing your way to deep and profound relaxation. The miracle is that you learn what your body feels like when it’s truly relaxed. Highly credentialed and eminently approachable, Geesaman Rabke also offers classes through U of U continuing education.

Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge Spa

Sometimes city dwellers forget about amenities offered by the ski resorts that bejewel our mountain peaks. Snowbird, in particular, features the Cliff Lodge spa that can provide a year-round reprieve from the daily grind with killer mountain views. If you have the money for a massage, energy treatment, facial or herbal wrap, then by all means, indulge yourself. There’s even a couples’ herbal wrap with two therapists! But for those who just want to avail themselves of the outdoor rooftop pool and hot tub or a eucalyptus steam bath followed by a period of contemplation and relaxation in the solarium, just scrounge up $20 and you’re in for a relaxing day.
Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird, 801-933-2225,

Liberty Park
Sprawling over 80 downtown Salt Lake City acres, Liberty Park provides the perfect place for a midday getaway, whatever your circumstance. A romantic twosome can find a place under a huge tree near the picturesque pond. A family with kids can take time after lunch to visit Tracy Aviary. Even kids with special physical needs can enjoy the all-abilities playground. You bring the food, nature provides a lovely day, and Liberty Park has everything else you might require.
700 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
2. Sugarhouse Park
3. Millcreek canyon

Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Center

Did you know that Congress finds wild free-roaming horses and burros to be living symbols of the West, that they enrich the lives of the American people and that, since it was felt they were fast disappearing, it became the Bureau of Land Management’s job to make sure they thrived? That duty has come to mean that the BLM gathers a good many wild horses and burros at various centers nationwide and makes them available for adoption at low cost to people who prove willing and capable to provide for them, and who will hopefully, “gentle” them. The Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Center has 70 acres of land near Herriman bucking with equine life. Take your preteen daughters there for a My Friend Flicka good time.
8605 W. 12600 South, Herriman, 801-561-4632,

ATK rocket display

Box Elder County is not only the home of the historical event portrayed on our state coin—the driving of the Golden Spike—it’s also where many of America’s rockets are born. Just a few miles from the Golden Spike National Historic Site, ATK (formerly Thiokol) has decorated its front lawn with an array of its most important creations: the reusable fuel boosters for the space-shuttle program as well as Patriot and Minuteman missiles. Whether you’re interested in weaponry or in peaceful exploration, it makes an impressive snapshot backdrop for you, and it’s free to the public.
Route 83, NW of Brigham City, Promontory

Payson Scottish Festival

Let’s face it: Ever since Braveheart, your inner “woad”-warrior has just been itching to go ape-crazy in a kilt. Look, these feelings are natural and, lucky for you, the Payson Scottish Festival in Utah county has an outlet for your bizarre fetish. Actually, for locals, the Scottish festival is a tradition that, for 25 years, has celebrated everything Scottish—from bagpipes and caber tossing to stone putting. That’s right, now is your chance to don that plaid man-skirt with pride, get out there and start huckin’ telephone-pole-size cabers and stuffing your face with haggis—all to the sweet, Old Country strains of bagpipe music.
100 S. Main, Payson,
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