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.
Recently profiled by The Atlantic for its members' innovative inventions, TechShop’s supportive community of inventors, artists, technicians, and alchemists share their excitement about the next big idea in an environment limited only by their collective imagination. The 17,000-square-foot smorgasbord of inventive creativity beckons people of all skill levels to its DIY confines, where members can wield tools not found in most private workshops, slicing through steel with a plasma cutter or accessing 3-D design software to finally realize the goal of crawling inside the Internet. Hands-on classes jump-start creative juices, introducing students to vocational skills including welding, soldering, and woodworking. Neophyte inventors aged 12–17 are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to ensure they don't break physics.
SF Mixology founder Shawn Refoua blended his experience as program director and a student of behavioral psychology into an academy that brings bartending methodology and cocktail mixology into the 21st century. With an eye toward libation history, the school's interactive classes range from basic and advanced mixology courses to in-depth lessons on specific liquors and the evolution of the cocktail through the 14 years of Prohibition and the decade when swizzle sticks were outlawed. Each class complements the goals of cocktail party hosts, as well as aspiring or continually learning bartenders, who can learn and practice essential behind-the-bar techniques while brushing up on flavor theory and emerging recipe methodologies. Held in the vibrant Infusion Lounge, the laid-back classes include plenty of sample sips and enthusiastic toasts to newfound friends.
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.
Many people learn better when they feel comfortable, which is why Cucina Bambini designed their workspace to resemble a family kitchen instead of a clinical wall of burners and ovens. Black-and-white tiles cover the walls behind rustic cabinets and ceramic spice vessels. Instructors work with ingredients atop a central island to share their passion for cooking with students of all ages. Children can learn about culture as well as cuisine in Around the World classes that focus on recipes for tandoori chicken or Chinese siu mai dumplings. Adults may mix fresh pasta dough and form fettuccine or ravioli by hand or learn how to prepare sushi rice and use it in fresh rolls or nigiri. During date-night classes, couples can bring in a bottle of wine to sip as they prepare a four-course dinner that they will eventually devour or smear across each other's faces.
In 98point6 Yoga's eco-conscious studio, a team of certified yoga instructors lead 60- and 90-minute yoga classes seven days a week. Yogis of all abilities can enter the 98.6-degree atmosphere designed to melt muscles into deep, healing stretches, evict toxins, and increase empathy for sun-dwellers. One-hour classes consisting of both static poses and meditative flow sequences help busy pupils maintain regular practice, while body benders in the 90-minute sweat session focus on performing 26 postures with proper alignment and depth and improving strength and stamina. The studio requests that pupils rent, bring, or spontaneously create a yoga mat and bath towel, though before reentering the outside world, students can take advantage of the facility's environmentally friendly low-flow showers.