Instructors at The Bear Pit lead mixed-martial-arts—MMA—classes along with boot-camp workouts to build strength and tone muscles. The popular 60-minute boot camps combine cardio and strength conditioning while students punch heavy bags and perform body-weight exercises.
The talented coaches at Maximum Cheerleading Gym are led by Nelson DeDios, a former head instructor for the United Spirit Association. Coaches ready kids to cheer with classes that cover tumbling, stunts, choreography, and gymnastics. They also hold auditions for competitive cheer teams of all levels.
Shawn Crawford has been climbing for more than 40 years, working with wilderness search and rescue at age 13 and later serving as a park ranger. Today, he’s the owner and head instructor at Rock City Climbing, where he puts his American Mountaineering and Guiding Association certification to use as he teaches climbers of all experience levels techniques of top-rope climbing, belaying, rappelling, and bouldering.
Inside a gym equipped with more than 10,000 feet of climbing walls, as well as top-rope and bouldering areas, students learn basic and advanced climbing techniques in a range of classes. As they climb, instructors introduce techniques such as hand and foot placement and what to do if gravity starts working in reverse. Visitors can leave the main floor to explore a tunnel maze behind the climbing walls, filled with trap doors, narrow passageways, and drops of up to 11 feet.
When not overseeing his gym, Shawn leads outdoor climbing excursions to challenging locales such as Joshua Tree, Riverside Quarry, and the Statue of Liberty. He also oversees a nearby ropes course, where staffers help groups and individuals navigate two ziplines, as well as more than 20 aerial challenges at heights of up to 60 feet.
Greg Massialas, the head coach and director at M Team Fencing So Cal, brings an impressive resumé brimming with the highest achievements in the sport. From beginners to pros, every student he works with gets training from a fencer who competed in the 1980, 1984, and 1988 Olympics, attained the No. 1 ranking for foil fencing in the United States, and coached members of the US Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American teams. Greg’s commitment to success pervades the club, extending to fellow instructors Heik Hambarzumian and Doris Willette. It's is particularly palpable in the Youth Champions program. By sharpening the minds and bodies of young competitors and fostering a sense of discipline and teamwork, the program aims to groom the next wave of fencing champions or musketeers. Given this mission, the stellar track record comes as little surprise: past graduates have succeeded at the NCAA, National, and Olympic levels, and at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, the club’s top fencer became the youngest to ever represent Team USA.
The primary inspiration behind My Gym, a children's activity center with outposts in more than 30 countries, was to combat childhood obesity. This led to the development of a full curriculum of fitness and play classes for kids and invisible friend dinosaurs ages 6 weeks to 13 years. But the physical activity is just part of the process. As each child accomplishes the tasks set forth for their age group—which might include anything from sing-alongs to introductions to sports—kids experience cognitive and emotional benefits as well. The group environment helps students socialize while they learn to share and take turns, and the attention and support from instructors boost their confidence and sense of independence. For kids 2.5 years and older, progress is tracked through the Building Blocks program, a system that recognizes and awards children as they display their new skills at periodic acknowledgment ceremonies.
Jeremy and Janine Hanewinckel, a husband and wife team with varied but complementary backgrounds, own the Yorba Linda My Gym location. Jeremy—or Mr. Jeremy, as the kids call him—received a degree in child and adolescent studies at Cal State Fullerton, and Miss Janine is a certified teacher who, when not at My Gym, interacts with kids through her job at Disneyland. In addition to classes organized by age, their full schedule also includes year-round day camps and customized birthday parties.