Amid the mythical landscapes and thrilling martial-arts battles in the film Mortal Kombat, you might see Richard Branden performing swift punches and mighty kicks as an outland warrior. Richard’s role in Mortal Kombat is just one of his many motion-picture credits, which include a stunt-double role in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Yin-Yang Man in WMAC Masters. The internationally renowned warrior has been practicing in martial arts since 1976, earning more than 35 international titles and six gold medals in chinese kung fu. A firm believer in the practice’s ability to enhance discipline and focus, as well as strength and agility, Branden opened Studio Kicks Palo Alto to help students of all ages reap martial arts’ many benefits.
Bright red and blue mats sweep across the floor of the expansive studio, where Branden's staff conduct a variety of combat-centric classes. The trainers lead energetic circuit-training routines and kickboxing combinations in adult fitness classes, helping students improve form and technique as they work toward sliming their physiques and toning their muscles. Youngsters and adults alike can enroll in the martial-arts program, where instructors guide students through movements, techniques, and training exercises that aim to boost power, flexibility, and strength. In addition to improving physical fitness, the program’s curriculum seeks to bolster self-confidence, much like an Armani blazer with the padded shoulders and biceps already sown in.
Darryl Kalthof of Bay Area Flying Lessons holds an FAA certificate as an airline transport pilot and ratings as an advanced ground instructor, honors earned over a distinguished two-decade career as a certified flight instructor. Today, he oversees a fleet of Cessna and Piper airplanes that act as airborne classrooms for his pupils, who range from 10-year-olds taking their first mechanical flights to advanced pilots earning certificates in commercial, multi-engine, and tail-wheel aviation. Lessons make use of the airspace surrounding San Francisco Bay, yielding panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean as well as many notable landmarks, including Dumbarton Bridge’s low ribbon of road and Stanford Stadium’s 70-foot animatronic statue of Bill Walsh.
Having shot more than 30,000 subjects throughout his career as a photographer, including many Silicon Valley business figures, Eric Gould understands how to create a good photo in any setting. His adeptness at communicating with subjects carries into his photography workshops, where he conveys difficult concepts clearly and methodically, saving students from such rookie mistakes as shooting with the lens cap on or turning the flash on while taking pictures of your imaginary friend's third grade graduation. In his own photo sessions, he frames professional clients in business portraits and headshots, high-school seniors in youthful poses, athletes in midaction, and a wide spectrum of people and places encountered on international travels.
Although Ananda Yoga's introductory classes begin by teaching new students how to master the fundamental asanas, the studio's practice strives to promote more than physical development. Self-actualization and personal, spiritual growth lay the foundation, and the instructors help attendees work toward these goals by incorporating enlightening affirmations, breathing exercises, and centering meditation into the classes. These classes may vary in physical intensity as advanced students challenge their strength and stamina with deeper, longer stretches, but each sequence encourages the attendees to focus on their mind-body connection and calm their thoughts.
Originally founded in 1970 to give high-school and college students a chance to hone their onstage skills, TheatreWorks dedicated itself early on to promoting new work that grappled with America's changing social landscape. Exploring the experiences of ethnic and cultural minorities, the group built a following throughout the subsequent decades, growing to its present size of 41 permanent staffers, an annual budget of $7 million, and 8,000 subscribers. Its New Works Initiative continues to seek out up-and-coming voices from around the country, helping new playwrights find their footing and prompting embittered older writers to test new pseudonyms.
At Pasta Q, chefs roll out homemade pastas and gnocchi and douse their doughy exteriors with creamy sauces and redolent spices. Eighteen diverse pasta renditions share table space with classic Italian-style meats buffered by roasted potatoes. An eclectic selection of imported Italian wines pair with bites, and homemade desserts ease the burden of spaghetti strands trying to shape themselves into the form of tiramisu. The menu’s Mediterranean flourishes extend to the décor, with its deep-burgundy and mustard-yellow walls punctuated by mosaic-tiled benches and billowy white fabric suspended from the ceiling.