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.
The team of licensed instructors, acupuncturists, and therapists at 7th Heaven Yoga & Wellness Center foster deeper mind/body connections and overall well-being with yoga classes, massages, and traditional chinese medical services. The resident chiropractor explores spinalscapes in search of bulging disks, dorsal fins, and postural problems, and the reiki-massage therapist coaxes out tension with precision pressures and intuitive strokes. The staff employs chinese medicine, which combines Western medical practices with the Eastern philosophy of holistic healing, to help correct ills rather than merely treat symptoms. The center's beginning yoga classes, such as intro to yoga and Hatha yoga, teach aspiring yogis the foundation of holding poses and proper breathing, and classes such as Acroyoga and dynamic flow shepherd advanced students into the deep realms of calmness necessary to recall old Sega Genesis game codes. Classes take place in four spacious yoga rooms with natural lighting, wooden floors, and an advanced heating and cooling system that keeps the room at steady, muscle-friendly temperatures.
After walking through the studio’s namesake entryway, visitors to Funky Door Yoga Polk Street are greeted by the grunts of Bikram practitioners carried on waves of steamy heat. The stretch dojo's seven-day schedule boasts early-morning, afternoon, and evening classes that take place in a classroom stoked to up to 105 degrees, the perfect temperature for facilitating flexibility or melting a corporate rival's ice statue in effigy. Students run through Bikram Choudhury’s 26 poses that pique muscles, organs, veins, and ligaments while the sweltering heat flushes toxins from the body. After a 90-minute session, students can hop into one of Funky Door Yoga Polk Street's showers, or down a bottle of water or sports drink available for purchase. The studio also stocks rentable mats and towels for greenhorn yogis not quite experienced enough to levitate.
The bright studio helps students fine-tune posework with wall-to-wall mirrors, and the expansive floor space affords enough space to execute even the most complex poses. Two nearby parking lots and metered parking afford convenient parking for car-toting students.
In Sanskrit, the word “niroga” means “freedom from disease.” Staying true to their business' namesake, the instructors and healers at Niroga Yoga Studio strive to guide students down a path of mental, physical, and spiritual healing. The aforementioned path takes on a literal form in the palatial exercise space—students lie on mats beside a path formed in the floorboards that leads to an image of a blossoming lotus. Beneath spheres of soft light, teachers walk about to offer modifications for poses or inspirational shadow puppets. They hold classes that are meditative, therapeutic, or fitness oriented, and regularly offer separate workshops on stress management and the physiological benefits of yoga practice. There are also yoga therapists and massage therapists that can further aid in healing and finding peace of mind.
The nonprofit Niroga Institute, which specializes in transforming the lives of incarcerated youth, underserved high-school students, and cancer survivors, operates Niroga Yoga Studio.
Since everyone experiences life through one medium—their bodies—professional Rolfer Jed Bentley uses his hands-on skills to ensure those bodies are in good working order. As a certified Rolfer, Jed has studied the ways in which all parts of the body are connected, and he knows how to correct ailments with manual adjustments of the fascia—the body's connective tissue. When fascia constricts, it causes bodily pain and poor posture. Once it has been adjusted during a Rolfing session, the body can stand taller and straighter without any additional effort and with less pain. Jed emphasizes that Rolfing addresses emotional troubles as well as physical ones—clients should be open to long-lasting emotional change as well as physical, usually within a few months. Clients who wish to better acquaint themselves with the Rolfing process can peruse the FAQ here.
At Groove Yoga, students of all skill levels can learn to segue seamlessly between asanas. The instructors mainly teach dynamic Vinyasa and Power Yoga styles, both of which use measured breathing techniques to link poses together.
These styles challenge more experienced students by incorporating demanding poses, such as arm balances, inversions, deep back bends, and a downward dog that's chasing a car. For an even more intense practice, some classes are heated to between 95 and 100 degrees. Every instructor has his or her own approach, though, and might place more emphasis on mindfulness through meditation or chanting.
Groove Yoga's dedication to wellbeing encompasses not only its students, but also the earth. Floors made from renewable bamboo lie underfoot, and an energy-efficient system raises the temperature during heated classes.