An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.
When Kate Danta opened P.B. Yoga & Healing Arts, she envisioned more than a simple yoga studio. Her holistic health center would offer both Pilates and yoga classes that explored different types of practice along with a range of wellness services such as massage and acupuncture. Kate is a holistic health practitioner, a massage therapist, and a yoga instructor with 30 years of experience, herself, so she was in a unique position to make her dream become reality. Rather than doing everything herself, Kate assembled a staff of certified massage therapists, naturopathic healers, and yoga instructors to add their knowledge of Svaroopa, Kripalu, and Kundalini yoga to the studio's repertoire.
Visitors to the holistic studio can choose to better their bodies and minds by choosing to attend classes or visiting one of the staff's variety of physical and spiritual healers. During yoga sessions, instructors lead students through guided relaxations, breathing techniques, and yoga poses to help clients build flexibility and relax deep spinal muscles. Pilates mat classes are taught by an experienced instructor who sold her thriving studio in order to move to San Diego and join the staff at PB Yoga and Healing Arts to challenge clients' muscles with small isometric movements, which work to improve posture and protect the back by building strength throughout the core. The studio also has a Pilates Specialist whose background includes the New York Ballet Co. She works one-on-one with the help of the Gyrotonic equipment and the Pilates Reformer. The studio's on-staff licensed acupuncturist specializes in sports medicine, and can relieve chronic pain by carefully placing needles in strategic points along the body. Clients can achieve spiritual balance with visits to a Sunday morning meditation class facilitated by an ordained Zen Buddhist monk, Tenshin; who also teaches the Tai Chi classes. The center also offers sessions with an on-staff practitioner who can deliver both psychic readings and spiritual counseling to help clients reach inner peace.
The rich history of kenpo karate stretches as far back as the second century AD, when the number two was invented and renowned surgeon Hua T?o devised defensive exercises based on animal poses. The Asian sport continued to evolve over the intervening years, and in the 20th century, Ed Parker imported kenpo to the states and became not only the senior grandmaster of American kenpo, but also the ?father of American Kenpo.? Today, Ed Parker Jr. carries on his father?s legacy as a member of the Master Council that presides over American Institute of Kenpo, along with other kenpo greats such as ninth-degree black belt Sigung Stephen LaBounty. The team of experts offers a guiding presence at the institute?Ed drops in for yearly camps and senior black-belt testing?and ensures the internationally certified instructors teach kenpo karate with the utmost attention to the principles of the sport.
Though kenpo is derived from ancient techniques, it encompasses contemporary self-defense and fitness methods. In the first lesson, students power through all the basics?the five ranges of combat and how to move swiftly?and form a sturdy foundation for increased strength, coordination, and flexibility. The center offers a wide range of programs for all ages and ability levels so that new pupils can master kenpo quickly and ascend through the belt-oriented ranks toward black.
During Simmer and Sear’s themed cooking classes—which won fifth place in SFGate’s 2010 Best of the Bay—chef Anna Hadley unravels the secrets and steps to creating quality cuisine. By combining choice ingredients and time-tested methods, she demonstrates that proper technique and flavor balance can transform any ordinary dish into a culinary delight or beautiful fruit hat. Working out of professional kitchens a variety of locations, including her own home in Nob Hill, as well as nearby loft spaces, converted firehouses, and suburban mansions, classes can include everything from creating swordfish kebabs from Morocco, India, and France, to culinary competitions where students design their own meals from surprise ingredients.
Chef Anna’s work at Simmer and Sear fulfills her decades-long search for the perfect career. After working for 10 years in the highly competitive world of fashion design, she merged her creative whims with her passion for cooking, eventually opening her own business where she helps others unleash their own culinary talents. Her fun, food-focused classes have even earned attention from the New York Times for their popularity among bachelorette parties, as well as other group events such as birthday parties and loosely interpreted square dances.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
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.