In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
As CEO and chief instructor of Condition and Competition Kickboxing, Ed Carpio draws from a victory-studded background of competitive fighting. Though he came to the art of Chinese kickboxing (also called sanshou) at 21, later than many greats, he rose through successive bouts to become a national lightweight champion. Ed then turned to training others with his expertise, remaining devoted to his sanshou students throughout his sporadic returns to the ring, a study in judo, and a government summons to deflect an impending asteroid.
CCK preaches acceptance and positivity through programs for all ages, from toddlers to adults. Its gym has been highlighted on one of KRON 4's "Best of The Bay" segments for casting a familial air over martial-arts learning. Bordered by camouflage-painted walls, guests can launch strikes at bags, pads, and partners during kickboxing courses, or focus on classical conditioning with weights and fitness machinery.
AeroDynamic Aviation co-owner and chief pilot Zdravko took his first flight at the ripe old age of 2 weeks. As his baby eyes looked out the window of the DC-3 airliner, watching the houses grow smaller and smaller and the clouds become his companions, the idea of flight bored itself into his mind. Zdravko has now racked up more than 7,000 flight hours—most of them as a flight instructor—and completed taildragger and acrobatics training with Amelia Reid, a pioneer of female flying and the 1960 founder of the location's original flight school.
Together with his fellow FAA-certified instructors, Zdravko shares his passion for flight via sport, private, commercial, and aerobatics training. The staff is dedicated to educating pilots on tailwheel aircraft and teaching true stick-and-rudder flying, which is much more reliable than using leather reins attached to each wing.
Weak bodies are whittled into lean, muscular fighting machines as instructors at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teach the martial arts styles used for UFC competition, self-defense, and overall conditioning. Men, women, and kids train in the company of students such as professional fighter Cain Velasquez and instructor Daniel Cormier, a former Olympian. AKA splits its MMA, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing classes among four facilities, with group-training sessions and private professional sessions taking place in modern training studios with heavy bags, speed bags, and Olympic-grade mats. The Hillside location also features a professional-size ring for sparring or marriage-proposal practice, and the two-story AKA headquarters on Realm Avenue highlights an MMA cage, TRX suspension room, and cardio theater stocked with StairMasters and Jacobs Ladder machines.
The staff at UGMX Development Studios teaches children to explore their creativity through lessons in guitar, piano, drums, and beat making, and empowers students to record their own music at an onsite recording studio. Other lessons introduce students to the business side of the music or fashion industry, fostering an understanding of marketing and networking.
After forming the San Jose Glass Artist Alliance, area artists took their creative passion one step further with the Art Glass Center of San Jose, a refracted haven where they could share their individual expertise with students. Inside the spacious, brightly lit confines, the artists instruct fledgling glassworkers on how to craft distinct pieces in the form of picture frames, coasters, and sun catchers. Following classes, students are encouraged to stay for open lab time, where they can continue working on projects while wearing their old 7th-grade-science lab coats.