Ben Chen has experienced his share of success in his nearly 30-year photography career—his work has been published in such publications as Cosmopolitan, The Los Angeles Times, and ESPN Magazine, and he has lent his expertise to some of the nation's largest corporations, including Procter & Gamble and The American Red Cross. In 2006, the photographer began to notice that more and more novices were purchasing complex DSLR cameras, and that gave him an idea. Chen decided to share his wealth of knowledge with aspiring photographers by creating the 4-Hour Newbie Photography Boot Camp, which teaches students how to shoot manually with their DSLRs and create artistic, professional-quality photos. Since then, more than 5,000 students in 20 cities throughout the country have benefitted from these classes. In 2013, he acquiesced to student demand and created Part II of the class, which goes beyond photography basics by diving into post-production techniques. Nowadays, students can take both Part I and Part II in the same day, helping them go from student to master in less time than most action-movie montages.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
From 18 studios scattered around Los Angeles, Lori Moran Music Studios’ armada of instructors offers all-ages voice, piano, guitar, violin, and composition classes. With teachers who have worked on films such as Dreamgirls and Dance Flick, world-touring operatic productions, and Grammy-nominated choral CDs, the school can cater to virtually every musical taste—from classical to jazz to pop. Students choose the emphasis of their lessons, whether they want to work on their public performance skills, write their own songs, sight-read scores, or simply be able to play musical chairs during a power outage. Many will also get the chance to show off in recitals, concerts, and showcases.
Happy Cooking Co. owners and head chefs James and Jael Tanti help students and customers build a bridge between diet and wellness, aiming to prevent dangerous inflammation and maladies through healthy food preparation. The cooks' holistic techniques and toxin-free surgical-steel utensils turn fresh ingredients into medicine, family meals into daily health regimens, and cooking into an extended metaphor for disease prevention and maintaining long-term well-being. Cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes teach students to create delicious recipes such as seven-herb chicken, homemade almond milk, or potato-leek soup, preventing harmful chemical contamination and overuse of oils with Saladmaster cookware.
Classically trained in piano and French horn, David Rothschild showcases his skills in ensembles throughout Southern California, including the Los Angeles Police Department Band. But when he's not onstage, David focuses on nurturing budding pianists and brass players during in-home lessons or sessions at his eponymous studio.
Drawing on more than 20 years of tickling the ivories, David trains piano players of all ages in everything from finding notes on the keyboard to playing short sonatas. He takes a similar approach to brass, helping horn and trumpet players master proper fingerings and trombonists refine their slide positions. Regardless of their instrument, David also teaches pupils to read music, a more convenient alternative to hiring someone to whisper every note to you.
Michael "Rocket" Blackstone was born into a family of pilots, and he began flying with his father at age 8. Now with 25 years of experience and 14,000 hours of logged flight time, Michael chooses to share his passion for flying with novice aviators and eager thrill seekers, taking them into the skies in one of four stunt aircraft, including a vintage-inspired, open-cockpit biplane.
After a brief safety talk on the ground, he and his pilots use these planes to take customers on adrenaline-pumping thrill rides, as seen on Eye on L.A.. These flights crisscross the skies over the California coastline, reaching speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. Passengers can even take the stick after takeoff, regardless of their experience level, and help the pilot guide the plane through basic aerobatic maneuvers, such as performing a loop, taking it into a roll, and skywriting a knock-knock joke within sight of downtown.
Michael and his pilots also lead flight-training sessions that teach students the basics of aerobatics over the course of several skyward outings with pre- and post-flight briefings. For a more tranquil excursion, they fly sightseeing tours of downtown Los Angeles or Long Beach Harbor and take passengers on chartered flights to Catalina Island.