In his tae kwon do classes, former world welterweight kickboxing champion Eric Melton covers techniques from basic stances and blocks to black-belt sparring. In another room, members of the competitive gymnastics team hone their flips and flexibility in year-round preparation for bouts against rival gyms. The competitive streak continues on in the cheerleading team, with whom decorated cheer directors harness national-title experience to perfect the squad's choreography and teamwork.
Along with classes with a competitive bent, the Mpact staff hosts sessions for kids who just want to try out new activities and have fun such a Nerf Wars where kids engage in friendly nerf football battles or open gym sessions. A parent-and-child gymnastics class introduces youngsters to obstacle courses and trampolines, and extreme tumbling's foam pits and padded mats train students of all skill levels to jump and flip more fearlessly than a blindfolded dolphin in a shark tank. For performing pupils, Mpact also teaches aerial-acrobatics classes and Demo Team programs, where kids learn how to deftly handle martial-arts weapons, including nunchaku and staffs.
Since opening Nutrition World in 1979, founder Ed Jones has fostered healthy mastication with an expansive inventory of natural, organic, and gluten-free foodstuffs. As shoppers peruse the aisles, nutrition-savvy store clerks stand by to answer inquiries and suggest healthy alternatives to junk food such as chips or notoriously indulgent Cracker Jack prizes. Shelves sport boxes of DeBoles gluten-free pasta ($3.89), and refrigerators eschew lactose with cartons of sunflower, coconut, hemp, and almond milk ($2.99+). Shoppers can scarf down the protein of an OhYeah! chocolate-caramel bar ($2.49) or work on their Popeye impressions by downing Amy's spinach pizza ($7.99).
At O'Riley Karate Centers, internationally licensed and certified instructors teach students wado-ryu karate, developed on mainland Japan and known as "the way of peace." At the award-winning dojo, students of all abilities and experience levels will improve their fitness, confidence, and coordination.
Eighth-degree black belt Master S.H. Koh began practicing taekwondo in 1967 in South Korea. He's still going strong at Yong In Martial Arts Academy, where he and his staff teach the classic Korean martial art to kids as young as 3. Their training programs also include other Korean martial arts such as hapkido and kumdo, as well as muscle-toning yoga and kickboxing.
Brentwood Brazilian Jiu-jitsu's team of seasoned martial artists works to keep their classes welcoming yet intense. Though their teaching style fosters a supportive environment, they challenge students at every turn to master the grappling techniques of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Aside from the adult classes, the studio offers kids' sessions that demonstrate how to stop bullying with practical self-defense skills.