Having shot more than 30,000 subjects throughout his career as a photographer, including many Silicon Valley business figures, Eric Gould understands how to create a good photo in any setting. His adeptness at communicating with subjects carries into his photography workshops, where he conveys difficult concepts clearly and methodically, saving students from such rookie mistakes as shooting with the lens cap on or turning the flash on while taking pictures of your imaginary friend's third grade graduation. In his own photo sessions, he frames professional clients in business portraits and headshots, high-school seniors in youthful poses, athletes in midaction, and a wide spectrum of people and places encountered on international travels.
The sweet-savvy artists at Gingerbread Builders set visitors up with the gingerbread, icing, and candy needed to build festive masterpieces at the workshop’s tables or in their own kitchens. Guests acquire the bonbons necessary to configure flying buttresses and solar panels from the colorful wall of candy bins (additional candy ranges from $0.10–$5) before setting to work with the provided bags of icing (extra icing is $2.50 per scoop). Bright red tabletops become construction sites as decorators add saccharine flourishes without the hassle of baking gingerbread walls or worrying about cleanup. Or, patrons can pick up their materials in a take-home kit to channel their inner Frank Lloyd Wright in the comfort of their own life-size gingerbread house.
Every month, the staff at Body Kinetics selects a member to honor. They summarize this member's workout program and results on a Member of the Month announcement, which describes the challenges that he or she has faced and includes notes from trainers. It also serves as a recurring reminder of the gyms' communal, encouraging approach to wellness.
This supportive vibe permeates all aspects of both Body Kinetics' clubs, from the dance-fueled Booty Beat routines in Novato to the outdoor cycling sessions at Mill Valley. In addition to yoga, Pilates, and body-sculpting fitness classes, each gym also hosts small-group and private training workouts. They complement their strength and cardio regimens with other wellness services, such as massage and nutrition consultations.
As they enter the training at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
A lot of the action at Mill Valley Aquatics and Fitness Center takes place in the pool. In the aquatic oasis, whose roof can be retracted so swimmers can enjoy clear summer days, adults swim laps or soak in a hot tub while youngsters take swim lessons, zip down the water slide, or learn how to play water polo. Elsewhere, the aquatics and fitness center features a fitness floor full of essential cardio and strength-training equipment. Personal trainers set clients on the proper path toward fitness, and group classes include yoga, Pilates, spin, and water exercise and therapy. (A childcare room is available if you want to exercise alone.) For events that don't require a lot of athleticism?unless your 80-year-old grandfather does a vigorous waltz?the center offers a sunny and airy banquet hall for craft fairs, ballroom dancing, weddings, and community events
Prior to opening her personal fitness studio, Sara Ellis was a World Cup-class mountain-bike racer competing for the award-winning Volvo-Cannondale team. As her racing days were coming to a close, she began coaching others on biking techniques, strength training, and physical conditioning—and fell in love. Personal training quickly became her new passion, whether she was working with elite athletes or individuals inspired to improve their health.
Ultimate Fitness specializes in slow-motion strength training and other customized training programs. In keeping with her background, Sara also leads terrain-based indoor spinning classes that test participants' limits, whether in the area of exertion or in the number of towels they have to use in a session.