Learning combat skills is not the main benefit of martial-arts lessons, as the instructors at TriValley ATA Martial Arts know well during the journey from white belt to black belt. Their students develop valuable personal skills—discipline, self-confidence, and focus. Both kids and adults learn proper stance and how to block and strike as they work toward acquiring the next belt. Mastering these physical skills requires developing mental skills, which helps bring balance to the mind, body, and spirit in a more fun way than trying to meditate while lying on a seesaw.
Set amid a stretch of hilly terrain, Canyon Lakes Golf Course's 18-hole course offers a player-friendly layout with scenic views of Mount Diablo and the San Ramon Valley. Throughout the course, towering pine trees and treacherous sand traps constrict the fairways, eager to ensnare errant golf balls or 7-iron medal detectors looking for buried treasure. When not taking on the challenges of the undulating course, golfers can head to Canyon Lakes' adobe-style clubhouse, which serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day and breakfast from 6:45 a.m. to noon on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Helmed by founder Tom Rezendes, NorCal Golf Academy’s LPGA and PGA professional instructors believe that there are infinite ways to swing a golf club. In this spirit, they help each student find his or her own best approach, taking into account physical limitations to craft goals that are as lofty as the berries on a berry bush. The indoor facility’s wealth of technology helps the teachers create such individualized road maps with three practice bays outfitted with K-Vest motion analysis—a system that uses wireless sensors to assess movement patterns—and Flight Scope launch monitors, which depict ball flight on flat-screen HDTVs.
The LPGA and PGA professionals take all this information into account while offering recommendations. Operating on the premise that there is no such thing as a quick fix and that overall fitness is key to a good game, they also focus on adding new drills over time, and encourage students to participate in the facility’s golf fitness classes. The specially designed workouts can help golfers build a solid swing and generate the muscle needed to fight off water-hazard gators.
Amid sun-drenched hills, New Heights Training Stables' long barn and training facility stretch out under the giant sky. The stable is a one-stop shop for everything horsey, with a covered arena, outdoor jumping arena, dressage court, and cross-country course. Here, instructors train equestrians of all ages in a variety of disciplines, teaching them beginner skills—such as taking the reigns—and advanced skills—including leaping over fences to save princesses. Led by head trainer David Acord, the instructors also teach students horse-care skills and train the horses themselves. Those who have their own horses can board them in one of the many roomy stalls, where mares and stallions alike are treated to high-quality hay, fresh bedding, and daily turnouts into the surrounding pastures.
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.