In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Inflatable structures, slides, and even games fill the climate-controlled environs of the numerous BounceU locations that speckle the nation. At each site, staff members closely monitor all activities as little ones traverse obstacle courses or pull on oversized inflatable boxing gloves. In addition to open sessions, the indoor-play haven sets the stage for the Preschool Playdate program, where instructors lead little ones aged 6 and younger in games and activities. Special events include family-bounce night where even parents can join in on the fun, bouncing alongside their kids or make sweeping edicts from atop a bouncy-castle throne. With their party room and variety of party packages, BounceU also makes itself the perfect spot to host a birthday, field trip, fundraiser, or annual Arbor Day party.
Coba Yoga takes its name from an ancient Mexican city, the ruins of which stand roughly 40 kilometers from the Caribbean ocean. Lili Avery, the Mexican-born owner of the studio, chose the name to honor her strong connection to her heritage, which brings her a sense of inner peace. During yoga sessions, she and her team of teachers help students find their own inner peace, wherever it might lie. While guests of all levels partake in yoga or opt for a massage, kids are looked after in childcare, which is free for ongoing members, or in children's yoga classes.
The indoor pool at Five Star Aquatics serves as a classroom for swimming lessons. In its 90-degree waters, certified instructors teach students to float, breathe rhythmically, and ultimately grow gills. Besides minting new swimmers, instructors lead classes for competitive and casual athletes, as well as individuals with limited mobility.
Other instructors at Five Star Aquatics teach dry-land classes such as yoga and Zumba. To further enhance vitality, massage therapists welcome clients into a private room for bodywork sessions that relieve aches and restore peace of mind.
The professional dance instructors at Ballroom, Etc. suspect that when people say, "I just want to dance," they don't necessarily mean that they want to spend the next five years mastering a series of steps. At the relaxed studio, instructors aim to create group classes and private lessons that embody what's really at the heart of dance—fun. Folks can stop by for group classes and learn the waltz, tap, or modern swing while mingling with other like-minded learners. On Friday night, the studio opens its doors to the public for dance parties, where students and shimmy-curious shufflers can amble in for a night of high-stepping.