Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cover Story

2014 Best of Des Moines- SPORTS AND REC


For more than 20 years, we have called upon you, our readers, to vote in our annual “Best Of Des Moines” contest. And every year it gets stronger in every way: More categories are added, more networks are joined, and more social media buzz and excitement is stirred. So it’s clear this contest truly means a great deal to our local community and its people — the business owners, professionals and service providers who take pride in their hard work and innovative ideas. It’s also important to local consumers to know their own hard-earned dollars are going to the best and their choices as consumers are informed ones.

Cityview readers cast a record 6,000-plus votes in 2011. Our elation over that number now seems silly, as we counted more than 11,000 votes in this year’s Best Of Des Moines poll — our strongest yet. The Cityview you are holding is typically one of our largest issues in page count each year, and, as such, gives our staff some aching migraines. But we couldn’t be more proud.

Now here are the choices our readers voted as the best in shopping, dining, nightlife, sports and recreation and everything else the Greater Des Moines metro area has to offer. Congratulations to our winners and the runners-up.



Iowa WildDM Art CenterFleet FeetTrans Iowa





Best Place to Play Golf (Public)

Waveland Golf Course

A perennial in this category, the Waveland Golf Course once again takes the top spot. The public golf course is the go-to for local golfers looking to tee off. Located along University Avenue, Waveland Golf Course features fast and difficult greens that challenge all skill levels whether you’re just beginning or have been playing longer than Zach Johnson has been alive.

4908 University Ave., 248-8725, www.golfwaveland.com

Runners-up: Des Moines Golf and Country Club; Willow Creek


Best Yoga Instructor

Mathew Koder

This modern day Yoga Professional is locally known for his ability to impact the lives of his students and is dedicated to carrying the torch of Hatha Yoga. This is his second consecutive win in this category, as readers believe in his passionate, joyful, compassionate and disciplined approach to teaching guides.

The 10th Street Lofts, Unit 101, 779-9192, www.mathewkoderyoga.com

Runners-up: Jen Kees; Sandi Hoover


Best Massage Therapist

Justin Behanisn

Cityview readers have spoken, and the massage therapist who leaves them feeling better than when they came in is Justin Behanisn. He offers integrative massage, massage therapy and Swedish massage out of his West Des Moines practice. Voters trust him and say he’s the best in the metro.

Runners-up: Robert Crane; Silla Blades 


Best Local Coach

Mark Muse (Mid-Iowa Rollers)

The roller derby teams of Des Moines have taken over this category with past recipients of this honor going to Derby Dames Coach Ozone (2012) and now the coach of the Dames’ arch rivals, Mark Muse, in 2013 and 2014. Our readers must like it down and derby.

Runners-up: Jon Rogger; Jen Kees


Best Local Athlete

Willem Nong-Lambert

Taking the win from ladies of the flat track and the Olympic arena comes hockey fighter William Nong-Lambert, our readers’ pick for best local athlete this year. This Urbandale native plays a strong forward for the team. 

Runners-up: Jesse Schmidt; Shawn Johnson


Best Local Sports Team

Iowa Barnstormers

The Iowa Barnstormers football team/franchise was honored as Des Moines “Best Local Sports Team” this year. It was also voted “Best Tweeter.”

The Iowa Barnstormers football team/franchise was honored as Des Moines “Best Local Sports Team” this year. It was also voted “Best Tweeter.”

We’re lucky to have so many professional sports teams in town, and this can be a tough category for our readers to pick with 2013’s addition of the Iowa Wild hockey program. But it’s arena football that wins over the hearts of our readers this year, as the title for best team goes back to the Barnstormers, succeeding the Iowa Cubs, last year’s winner. The Iowa Barnstormers have always been a local favorite.


Runners-up: Iowa Cubs; Des Moines Buccaneers


Best Bike Trail

High Trestle Bridge Trail

The magnificent High Trestle Trail between Woodward and Madrid was again voted “Best Bike Trail.”

The magnificent High Trestle Trail between Woodward and Madrid was again voted “Best Bike Trail.”

Central Iowans are extremely lucky to have access to a wide variety of bike trails in the area, but none is better in the eyes of our readers than the High Trestle Bridge Trail. Riders can enjoy a 25-mile trail from Ankeny to Woodward with a great place to stop for a break, especially at night, on the 13-story tall bridge, this category’s three-time consecutive winner.

Runners-up: Great Western Trail; Clive Greenbelt Trail


Best Place for a Run

Gray’s Lake

When people think about going for a run outside of their neighborhood, one place comes to mind — Gray’s Lake. Nestled along Fleur Drive, the lake is a prime hotspot for hundreds of runners each year. The two-mile trail encompasses the lake and also features a quarter-mile long pedestrian bridge that lights up the night below the Des Moines skyline. It continues to be a favorite of our readers and will likely be toward the top of this category for years to come.

2101 Fleur Drive

Runners-up: Raccoon River Park; Water Works Park


Best Place to Work Out

YMCA of Greater Des Moines

From Kees Camp to Farrell’s Extreme Body Shaping and now to the YMCA, this category has had a fickle fan base. But with the new facility downtown, it’s no wonder YMCA was voted as the best place to work out in Des Moines this year. From swimming to sports to spinning to weights to health and wellness programs, coaching and classes, the YMCA has something for all needs.

Multiple locations, www.dmymca.org

Runners-up: Aspen Athletic; Fitness World


Best Place to Kickbox

Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping

More than a decade has gone by since founder Lance Farrell began Extreme Bodyshaping, but it’s still one of the most beloved workouts of our readers. We hear people talking about their 10-week programs all the time as they work hard to better their lifestyle. Farrell’s combines kickboxing, resistance, nutritional guidelines and accountability to help participants succeed and is a repeat winner here.

Multiple locations, www.extremebodyshaping.com

Runners-up: Kosama; Roundkick Gym


Best Place to Go Swimming

YMCA of Greater Des Moines

Another year, another title for the YMCA. Looking for a place to swim a few laps or just enjoy the water? The YMCA has you covered. More than 66,000 central Iowans swim in the metro’s nine locations each year. The downtown location sports a four-lane pool that hosts lap and open swim times.

Multiple locations, www.dmymca.org

Runners-up: Ashworth Pool; Clive Aquatic Center


Best Personal Trainer

Rodney Filer

Former Iowa Barnstormer fullback Rodney Filer retired in 2012 to help others with their fitness at Gigi’s, which he co-owns and operates with his wife. He’s this year’s “Best Personal Trainer.”

Former Iowa Barnstormer fullback Rodney Filer retired in 2012 to help others with their fitness at Gigi’s, which he co-owns and operates with his wife. He’s this year’s “Best Personal Trainer.”

This 13-year arena football veteran played fullback for the Iowa Barnerstormers until he retired in 2012. Rodney Filer has since become wildly successful locally as a personal trainer and as co-founder of Gigi’s Pilates Studio and Personal Training in downtown Des Moines along with his wife. Both he and Gigi are personal trainers there, but Cityview readers say Rodney is the best in town.

601 E. Locust St., Suite 201, 279-0242, www.gigispilatesstudio.com

Runners-up: Patrick Raney; Jen Kees


Best Place to Bowl

Plaza Lanes Family Fun Center

Plaza Lanes remains on top three years running as Des Moines best place to bowl, according to our readers. And why not? It offers not only bowling but video games, a sports bar packed with TVs and sand volleyball courts, too. There is so much to do — enough to spend an entire day there.

2701 Douglas Ave., 255-1111, www.plazalanesdm.com

Runners-up: Val Lanes; Warrior Lanes


Best Place to Miniature Golf

A.H. Blank Golf Course

Upsetting the longstanding leader in this category, West Grand Golf, our readers went with Blank as their favorite this year. Bring family and friends out to A.H. Blank Mini Golf Course and play among a scenic landscape that includes a 15-foot waterfall and ponds with towering water fountains. Our readers say the real sand traps and rough make Blank’s mini golf course fun and challenging for people of all age groups.

808 County Line Road, 248-6300, www.golfblank.com

Runners-up: West Grand Golf Course; Toad Valley Golf Course


Best Indoor Sporting Event

Iowa Barnstormers

Since this question deals with indoor sporting events, it’s no surprise that the arena football league’s Iowa Barnstormers should come out on top year after year… Except last year, when it was picked off by the Des Moines Derby Dames. Ouch. The Barnstormers are back again, though, as the best indoor sporting event, according to our readers.


Runners-up: Iowa Wild; Des Moines Buccaneers 


Best Outdoor Sporting Event

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs won “Best Outdoor Sporting Event” this year and a was runner-up for “Best Local Sports Team.”

The Iowa Cubs won “Best Outdoor Sporting Event” this year and a was runner-up for “Best Local Sports Team.”

The Iowa Cubs hit a homerun in this category with ease. The boys of summer bring downtown Des Moines alive during baseball season, so grab the family or a group of friends and enjoy a game in the cozy confines of Principal Park. The 2014 season home opener versus Memphis is April 3. Spring can’t come soon enough.

One Line Drive, 243-6111, http://iowa.cubs.milb.com

Runners-up: Hy-Vee Triathlon; Drake Relays


Best Place to Watch a Sporting Event

Bucs Arena

Voters have booted longtime category winner Principal Park to runners-up row to make room for a new favorite, Bucs Arena. Maybe readers are just trying to keep things cool, or maybe it’s because the 3,408-seat multi-purpose arena in Urbandale has been a landmark most of our readers’ lives (since 1961). Prior to 1980 when the Bucs moved in, the International Hockey League’s Des Moines Oak Leafs and Des Moines Capitols franchise played here. Back then it was called “the madhouse.”

7201 Hickman Road, Urbandale, 278-2827, www.bucshockey.com

Runners-up: Wells Fargo Arena; Principal Park


Best Local Day Trip

Amana Colonies

“The land between two rivers” has a lot of fascinating sites, from the mighty Mississippi to the majestic Missouri River Valleys. But our readers’ voted the Amana Colonies as the best Iowa day trip worth the tank of gas. Step back in time to visit seven quiet German Pietist villages of friendly folks making nationally-acclaimed cheese, homemade wines and craft beer from a local brewery, plus quaint restaurants serving up home-cooked meals with an old-fashioned flare. It’s a time-travel road trip guaranteed to leave everyone in the car with lifelong memories.

Runners-up: Pella; Iowa City


Best Running Event

Dam to Dam

Not only is Dam to Dam recognized as one of the best long distance races in the United States, but it’s also the largest 20K race in the nation. Runners from across the nation flock to town for this annual event (in its 35th year) as they take off from Saylorville Dam and run to downtown Des Moines. And if the 20K isn’t your style, Dam to Dam also offers a 5K and youth run, too.


Runners-up: Drake Relays; Living History Farms Race CV

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