When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.
With a Masters Degree in Education from Notre Dame De Namur University, many years of classroom experience, and four years of tutoring under her belt, Christina Stenstrom aims to inspire and empower young women. Established in 2008, her summer camps center on helping young ladies express themselves artistically. During sessions, girls paint, draw, sing, and act but they'll also learn about marketing, branding, and making commercials. Over the course of the week, they will take what they've learned to pitch ideas to their instructor and eventually take over the world.
Though they come from different backgrounds, the three chefs behind Kids Culinary Adventures have all seen the positive impact that cooking has on children. Chef Brian Allen honed his cooking technique at California Culinary Academy's Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality Management program, but he's been comfortable in the kitchen since childhood, when he would cook and bake with his father, mother, and grandfather. Chef Danielle Nunes also grew up in the kitchen, learning many of her grandmother's secret family recipes and discovering her passion for multicultural dishes. Pastry chef Caitlin Allen fine-tuned her baking skills at Walt Disney World's Yacht and Beach Bakery. Now, they coordinate private cooking classes, camps, and themed culinary-focused birthday parties for children of all ages.
Many of their programs combine the culinary arts with lessons in math, reading, science, and visual arts. During private custom cooking classes, they work with individuals and groups to coordinate custom menus based on Italian, Mexican, or Asian recipes. Calibrated for kids as young as 3 years, their classes encourage proper nutrition and creative meal preparation, and teach kitchen cleanliness with visual aids such as "kitchen cooties," a culinary toolbox, and teddy bears carved out of soap. In multi-day camps, chefs teach academics and professional skills that help children execute DIY culinary tasks such as building a themed holiday menu, baking and decorating a cake, or mastering tools such as grills or woks.
There’s a world where monsters are storming a castle and one person is trapped within the walls. Nearby, in another world, a wizard dances on the shore of a beach. As distant as these worlds—and an infinite number of other worlds—might seem, they both came into being at Digital Monkey School. Founded by Greg Orduyan in 2006, Digital Monkey offers all-ages classes on creating 3-D, 2-D, and animated art on a computer. A veteran of the video-game industry for more than 15 years, Orduyan was a central figure in the design of such PS2 staples as Frequency—a predecessor to Guitar Hero—and Silent Hill 2. Elementary-aged children and older can sign up for the digital-painting course, where they learn to apply lessons from traditional painting when working with a stylus and tablet, and an introduction to video-game development, which covers basic programming and financial planning in gold-coin-based economies.
After 17 years as a professional fighter and nine titles, kickboxing and karate champion Brian Schwartz stepped out of retirement to try his fists at MMA. A broken hand and, subsequently, the first professional loss of his career slowed him down, but not for long?the next year, he returned to face and beat that opponent. Naturally enough for a man who can?t let a new challenge go untested, Schwartz then turned his focus to a new endeavor: the creation of Undisputed Boxing Gym, where he would share the secrets of the fight with a new generation.
Schwartz has assembled a dynamic staff of fighters with backgrounds in jujitsu, boxing, tae kwon do, and kickboxing to train both aspiring fighters and average fitness enthusiasts. Students can tone up and learn self-defense techniques or even chase a spot in the gym's amateur competitive program. The sweat flows in expansive training facilities that include a tae kwon do dojo, a cycling studio, a set of 40 Everlast heavy bags, and displays that track class progress as well as show the music videos for the songs being played. An in-house chiropractor helps align muscles and massages away any knots from learning an especially brutal tickle submission.
Jeff Smith, a college swim coach and swim-club aquatics director, and Joan Smith, an NCAA all-American swimmer and triathlete, joined forces to open a swim academy that teaches youngsters how to swim safely while having fun. The pair operates two facilities, each with its own heated pool staffed by instructors who have all graduated from King's Swim Academy's training program. Their program begins with Parent and Me classes for kids as young as 6 months old, which introduce children to the water and teach basic skills such as kicking and changing their own diaper underwater. As students progress through the levels, they eventually learn skills such as freestyle swimming, backstroke, flip turns, and survival swimming. Instructors also lead a swim-technique and fitness class that prepares swimmers for swim team while promoting a healthy lifestyle and honing stroke skills.