The team of instructors at AquaTech Swim School continue their education and hone their advanced Marco Polo calls throughout their time at the school. Private, semiprivate, and group classes for children range from 6-month-olds' Tadpole curriculum to the advanced, team-focused Orca course, and the eight levels of kids classes are nuanced to include both "nervous" and "comfortable" beginner levels. The instructors help grownups get kicking during 60- and 90-minute private classes.
The Concord and Alameda facilities boast an 88-degree indoor pool that's specially designed for classes. Each location offers a spacious lesson-viewing area, children's play area, and free WiFi. The new Alameda facility also has an indoor/outdoor cafe for students who want to grab a bite before or after class.
Founded by master trainer Sergio Silva, Team Silva Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arms students with the grapples and fitness techniques needed to get in shape or tackle competitors. Adult programs delve into the takedowns and strikes of mixed martial arts, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing, and women's classes range from yoga to fighting-themed fitness. Tykes can begin learning self-defense and discipline with muay thai lessons, gaining the swift, precise movements to fend off playground bullies or rebuff roving packs of feral kindergartners. A safe and encouraging environment, the Alameda studio lines its walls with cushions and trained coaches who oversee classes and open-mat sessions where students practice their martial-arts techniques or pickup lines.
Sahbumnim Jeremy Keller, a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, believes learning is a life-long process available to anyone who will reach out for it. Working with students as young as three, and as old as an imagination, Intensity Martial Arts owner Jeremy and his team teach three styles of martial arts: the Korean combat art Tae Kwon Do, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts. During each session, they teach respect and build listening skills and focus. The team’s professional oversight keeps students safe during sparing sessions and practice. The dojo’s padded floors protect against falls, and specialized gloves soften any blows.
While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn’t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf’s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf’s ever-growing arcade area keeps button-smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
Instructor Kumu Lani Cid-Iulio brings more than 20 years of hip-shaking Polynesian dance experience to classes that imbue Alameda’s Island Hawaiian Studios with a distinctly tropical air. After hula-hooping her way through a Hawaiian childhood, Kumu brought her skills to the mainland and deftly stepped in as a principal dancer of Ka Ua Tuahine in Berkeley. Beginners and advanced students of all ages bare their feet in classes that draw on Kumu’s extensive knowledge, shimmying their hips to traditional dances and rocking out on air ukuleles to tunes imported from Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand.
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.