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.
For some people, health and luxury are wishes to make on the future. But at The Big C Athletic Club, they happen to be the main draws all the time. Once inside, you pass the multilevel grand lobby and 75,000 square feet of weights, cardio machines, fitness classes, and sports courts open before you. After conquering workouts or group fitness classes, a dip in the temperature-controlled pool or the healing mist of the sauna soothes worn muscles. The facility's own Big C Grille offers healthy bites post-workout to replenish the body's all-important protein levels and angel-hair pasta enzymes. Even when members aren't working out, the club strives most of all to keep them happy: extra amenities such as massage therapy and a hair salon offer conveniences that help you leave both looking and feeling good.
If the punching bags that line the workout rooms at Max Combat Fitness could talk, they would probably still keep their mouths shut. That?s how scared they are of the professional and amateur fighters who inflict a beating on them every day during the gym?s muay thai and mixed-martial-arts classes. Led by chiseled combatant George Tsutsui, the team of instructors leads students of all ages and skill levels through the basics of hand-to-hand martial arts. If they aren?t interested in learning MMA strikes or jujitsu grappling techniques, students can burn calories in cardio-kickboxing classes that eschew contact in favor of aerobic dance moves. Similarly, the gym?s conditioning classes improve strength, speed, stamina, and flexibility through stretching exercises and explosive bursts of movement.
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.
Most of the instructors at Little Dipper Aquatic Center are also Little Dipper graduates. Having earned a diploma from the swimming school, these teachers have first-hand knowledge of the Little Dipper method. Above all, they know how to prioritize the curriculum: safety instruction comes first, floating lessons come second, and cannonball tutorials come right after naval-artillery demonstrations. At the outset of lessons, teachers introduce participants to the pool, a 93-degree basin that brims with salt. Then, they guide swimmers through exercises, adjusting the level of instruction to suit the group's age or ability level—classes are available for students aged 3 months and beyond, and special-needs students are welcome. As teachers conduct lessons, parents and siblings can observe from an air-conditioned viewing room. In addition to group and private swim classes, the Little Dipper staff hosts youth parties.
A self-described "cattleman," Jack Roddy made the shrewd business decision to turn his 2,000-acre cattle ranch into Roddy Ranch, which opened its pristine greens in 2000. The outcome was a resounding success, as the club's 18-hole, 7,024-yard course garnered praise from its early guests, including a San Francisco Chronicle writer who lauded the "home-free surroundings" as "the finest golf course that's opened in the greater Bay Area in years." With mounded terrain, relatively scarce tree lines, a multitude of bunkers, and ball washers that speak Gaelic, the course brings the links-style characteristics of golf's Emerald Isle forebears into the rustic hills of northern California. As golfers traverse the grassy labyrinth, elevated greens and tee boxes give way to scenic views of the brown- and green-toned landscape as rising foothills graze the distant clouds.
The expansive club also encompasses a 400-yard, three-tiered driving range, as well as a pro shop featuring golf apparel and accessories from Titleist, FootJoy, Antigua, and other top industry brands. After trolling the fairways or burying disloyal 9 irons in the deepest bunker, players can retreat to The Corral, where a full repertoire of sandwiches, salads, soups, soft drinks, beer, and liquor foster post-round rejuvenation and revelry.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 course
Length of 7,024 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 74.5 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 142 from the farthest tees
Five tee options
See the scorecard