A family of four poses amid crisp fall leaves, late sunlight casting a warm glow across their smiling cheeks. A newlywed couple beams at each other under a canopy of palm trees. Staff members of a new salon hold a giant pair of scissors, poised to cut the ribbon and the hair of their first giant customer during their opening ceremony. ultra-spective's photographers can capture groups and individuals in nearly any context, and they take a distinctive approach to each—so much so that the studio boasts six different divisions, for family portraits, high-school seniors, art portraiture, weddings, boudoir shoots, and business photography. An all-female team with expertise in lighting and airbrushing directs the boudoir shoots, where they guide subjects in poses designed to make them look svelte and beautiful. For family shoots, they'll gladly venture to a selection of reliably picturesque parks where split-rail fences lean, redwoods loom, and sycamores dapple golden fields with shade. The studio itself has plenty of personality, with chandeliers and black walls lined with hot pink sequins.
Koko FitClub Smartraining system, which debuted in Entrepreneur magazine's 33rd annual Franchise 500 rankings, gives patrons personalized control over their own fitness with 30-minute custom workouts at automated stations. Each person's tailored regimen begins with a body-composition test, which helps trainers to build a program based on weight loss, toning, or whale-wrestling goals. Staff members then load workout plans onto the client's Koko key, which plugs into Smartraining machines. The workout equipment greets guests by name and instructions steer limbs through a medley of strength and cardio maneuvers, all of which take place at a single station. Because the system stores each visitor's progress, workouts adapt daily to keep muscle groups from starting a fight club out of boredom. A personal website tracks fitness data for at-home viewing.
More than a century ago, an industrious farmer named Gerard enlisted the help of bees to pollinate his family estate. Inadvertently, the buzzing insects fertilized a new passion for Gerard, one that would become a family tradition.
Four generations later, Gerard?Z Honeybees' bustling hives create more than a dozen local and monofloral honeys from such plants as star thistle, orange blossoms, and avocado blossoms. Because the honeys are completely raw and natural, they maintain the micro-nutritious qualities often left out of industrial varieties, and they may help allergy sufferers to acclimate to their local pollen varieties.
Gerard?Z holds year-round beekeeping workshops and honey tasting seminars at local wineries, nurseries, and farmers? markets throughout the Bay Area and Central Valley. During the classes and tastings, bee experts demystify the process of maintaining a hive, and people get the chance to taste the difference between clover honey, buckwheat honey, black sage honey, and Doritos honey. Gerard?Z also helps to maintain the delicate honeybee population by finding homes for wild swarms or colonies that have built hives in unwanted places and might otherwise fall prey to exterminators.
At PartiPalooza, children blissfully bound through a soft and yielding play space where challenging games and activities get their lungs pumping and motor skills firing. In the front room, kids nimbly maneuver an inflatable obstacle course, bounce house, and collection of slides before taking a breather to belt out some working-class ballads on stage in the karaoke room. PartiPalooza’s back area tests hand-eye coordination with miniature bowling in two lanes, arcade games, air hockey, and foosball, as well as a towering climbing wall with automatic belays. Birthday parties spread out in regal rooms appointed with a throne for the celebrated tyke, who looks on as subjects feast on cheesy pizza, heaps of chicken wings, or Cold Stone Creamery ice-cream cakes.
The timpani beat of hooves drifts across the 120 acres of rolling hills and green flatland at Windmill Ranch. Glimpses of the Livermore Valley sweep out beneath riders as they practice proper equitation technique. The ranch’s owner and head trainer, Irene Lorimer, hails from a family of passionate horse enthusiasts and has herself been riding since age 4. Her illustrious career has included numerous titles as a youngster and training with an international bronze medalist. Today, she oversees all instruction in the disciplines of hunter-jumper and equitation, ensuring that students pick up proper techniques, whether they want to show on the competitive circuit or simply make convincing neighing noises every time they call a daytime radio show.
The FAA-certified instructors at Future Eagles Aviation put clients behind the controls of actual aircraft as they teach them the ins and outs of aviation. Students amass skills such as navigation and cockpit familiarity on the ground in adventure flight school before lifting off in a Cessna 172 training aircraft for 30 minutes of flight time. Kids can also take to the sky during Future Eagles Aviation’s youth aviation summer camp, a weeklong foray into the world of cloud skimming and Peter Pan mimicry during which kids aged 10 and older practice on simulators and log real flight hours in training aircraft.