Whether meant to scale mountains or drift down street shoulders, the mounts and cycling gear at Summit Bicycles ease any odyssey atop two wheels. The extensive selection ranges from Trek bikes for road and mountain to hybrid and commuter bikes that trump getting to work by hiding overnight in a coworker's trunk. Well aware of the importance of finding the ideal frame, the store lends out high-end bikes for test runs via its demo program, allowing riders to get a feel for the saddle's political bent before taking it home to meet their parents. For current owners, Summit's technicians repair and tune up already-owned bikes and help browsers find accessories such as tire-patching kits, electronic heart-rate monitors, and apparel from Bontrager and Pearl Izumi.
Over the course of 50 years, the family that runs Helm of Sun Valley has amassed an inventory of top-shelf gear for wintry recreation and summertime watersports. Before stocking their shelves, the shop's athletic staffers take skis from Alpina, kiteboards from Cabrinha, and water skis from Connelly for test spins to appraise their performance. Standout sports gear snags a spot inside the store, along with apparel and accessories. Employees also rent out and tune up equipment. They specialize in fitting snowboard boots to feet, sometimes fashioning custom ZipFit liners by molding foam around arches. New kiteboard owners can master the sport by attending lessons, during which instructors teach basics on land before waving pupils onward into frothy crests.
After one look at the pristine pools packed with toys, and it’s no surprise why La Petite Baleen’s four San Francisco-area swim facilities are so popular with kids. What may be surprising however, is that the flourishing network of schools started humbly in the backyard pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid.
In 1979, the public school teachers were brainstorming ways to integrate their passion for educating kids with their love of the water. Starting with their own three children, some neighborhood kids, and one cleverly disguised frog, John and Irene began teaching swim lessons with a rather progressive philosophy: They approached swimming not just as an extracurricular activity, but as a means to boost self-confidence, build friendships, and learn to overcome fears.
More than 30 years later, La Petite Baleen has become a renowned family of schools, partnered with the U.S. Swim School Association and the Swim for Life Foundation. Part of the success has to do with how children are grouped. In weekly sessions, pods of tots of similar age, skill level, and personality evolve at a similar pace—earning individual achievement ribbons as they do. Kids make friends in the group, and the recurring scheduling means that they can stay enrolled with their new buddies indefinitely or until they grow their own dorsal fins. Each location’s indoor pools are kept at an inviting 90 degrees, in an attempt to make even the most timid student to feel comfortable in the water. Perhaps most importantly, the teachers participate in ongoing training designed to encourage empathetic, yet firm teaching methods.
Helmed by martial arts instructor Willy Cahill for nearly 50 years, the instructors at Cahill's Judo Academy dojo drill students in the martial arts of Kodokan judo and jujitsu. In spacious studio interiors, students embark on up to 2.5-hour classes, rehearsing throws, grapples, strikes, and joint locks to subdue opponents and force stubborn jam jars to yield their contents. The instructors are well-versed in the combat-focused jujitsu and in the less combat-intensive practice of judo, working to hone state- and international-championship medal winners participating in Olympic events, Pan American Games, and special competitions.
Battlefit Gym’s instructors thumb their noses at the suggestion that fighting has no place in public. They happily subvert this social convention, leading students through safe and noncontact fitness classes inspired by the pugilistic arts. Each boxing, kickboxing, or group MMA class is lead by a professional fighter, who teaches basic skills during the up-tempo, one-hour workouts. Students warm up with plyometrics before strapping on 16-ounce gloves and hitting a heavy bag with combination of kicks, knees, and elbows. Classes may burn between 800 and 1,000 calories per session, improve coordination and stamina, and increase your tolerance for listening to the theme from Rocky IV on repeat.