Snap Fitness 24-7, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its state-of-the-art facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneaker to treadmill or lift their first weight, personal coaches meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting a personalized fitness plan based on each client's strength, and cardio condition. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthy eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists.
After one look at the pristine pools packed with toys, and it’s no surprise why La Petite Baleen’s four San Francisco-area swim facilities are so popular with kids. What may be surprising however, is that the flourishing network of schools started humbly in the backyard pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid.
In 1979, the public school teachers were brainstorming ways to integrate their passion for educating kids with their love of the water. Starting with their own three children, some neighborhood kids, and one cleverly disguised frog, John and Irene began teaching swim lessons with a rather progressive philosophy: They approached swimming not just as an extracurricular activity, but as a means to boost self-confidence, build friendships, and learn to overcome fears.
More than 30 years later, La Petite Baleen has become a renowned family of schools, partnered with the U.S. Swim School Association and the Swim for Life Foundation. Part of the success has to do with how children are grouped. In weekly sessions, pods of tots of similar age, skill level, and personality evolve at a similar pace—earning individual achievement ribbons as they do. Kids make friends in the group, and the recurring scheduling means that they can stay enrolled with their new buddies indefinitely or until they grow their own dorsal fins. Each location’s indoor pools are kept at an inviting 90 degrees, in an attempt to make even the most timid student to feel comfortable in the water. Perhaps most importantly, the teachers participate in ongoing training designed to encourage empathetic, yet firm teaching methods.
With a Masters Degree in Education from Notre Dame De Namur University, many years of classroom experience, and four years of tutoring under her belt, Christina Stenstrom aims to inspire and empower young women. Established in 2008, her summer camps center on helping young ladies express themselves artistically. During sessions, girls paint, draw, sing, and act but they'll also learn about marketing, branding, and making commercials. Over the course of the week, they will take what they've learned to pitch ideas to their instructor and eventually take over the world.
Where as many people prefer to chat with others during lunchtime, patrons of Yoga at Change look forward to quieting their minds. These 30-minute meditation sessions occur three times a week, and like the rest of the non-profit's curriculum, strive to inject some introspection into otherwise bustling days. Though "yoga" is in the studio's title, meditation figures heavily in many of its class and workshop offerings—Slow Flow yoga mixes it with Hatha poses, and Integral lessons combine chanting, meditation, and restful movements. Mothers can also channel meditative energy during Mom Baby Yoga and Yoga with Babysitting, specialty classes that allow them to engage in relaxing postures and meditation while staying connected to their little ones, who spend the sessions stretching out with their parent, sleeping, or playing.
The holistic philosophy of Yoga at Change is that all people have the right to spiritual insight, a healthy body, and a peaceful mind. The instructors strive to accomplish this through a blend of self-reflection, breath, and physical balance. The staff believes that there are several roads to wellness, and that all of them should be accessible, regardless of the client's skill level. They schedule several discounted or free demonstrations, and also offer a scholarship program to fund yoga practice for those in need of financial aid. Students attend classes based on their desired intensity—gentle, moderate, or vigorous. They can also register for workshops that address a slew of alternative health topics, which in the past have included treating lower back pain.
When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.