Adrienne Moore, a former nationally ranked All American swimmer, and her husband Stephen founded AquaTech Swim School to shepherd babies, children, and adults into the world of swimming. Their team of instructors spends 40 hours studying the Mattos method, named for Adrienne's maiden moniker, which combines swimming skills with child-psychology skills. The CPR-, AED-, and first-aid-certified teachers continue their education and hone their advanced Marco Polo calls throughout their time at the school. Private, semiprivate, and group classes for children range from 6-month-olds' Tadpole curriculum to the advanced, team-focused Orca course, and the eight levels of kids classes are nuanced to include both "nervous" and "comfortable" beginner levels. The instructors help grownups get kicking during 60- and 90-minute private classes.
The Concord location's brightly colored facilities include an 87-degree indoor pool that's 4 feet deep, pirate-free, and specially designed for classes. A lesson-viewing area includes bleachers and a play station, and free WiFi is available for visitors who would rather surf than swim.
Instructor Kumu Lani Cid-Iulio brings more than 20 years of hip-shaking Polynesian dance experience to classes that imbue Alameda’s Island Hawaiian Studios with a distinctly tropical air. After hula-hooping her way through a Hawaiian childhood, Kumu brought her skills to the mainland and deftly stepped in as a principal dancer of Ka Ua Tuahine in Berkeley. Beginners and advanced students of all ages bare their feet in classes that draw on Kumu’s extensive knowledge, shimmying their hips to traditional dances and rocking out on air ukuleles to tunes imported from Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand.
Sahbumnim Jeremy Keller, a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, believes learning is a life-long process available to anyone who will reach out for it. Working with students as young as three, and as old as an imagination, Intensity Martial Arts owner Jeremy and his team teach three styles of martial arts: the Korean combat art Tae Kwon Do, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts. During each session, they teach respect and build listening skills and focus. The team’s professional oversight keeps students safe during sparing sessions and practice. The dojo’s padded floors protect against falls, and specialized gloves soften any blows.
Founded by master trainer Sergio Silva, Team Silva Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arms students with the grapples and fitness techniques needed to get in shape or tackle competitors. Adult programs delve into the takedowns and strikes of mixed martial arts, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing, and women's classes range from yoga to fighting-themed fitness. Tykes can begin learning self-defense and discipline with muay thai lessons, gaining the swift, precise movements to fend off playground bullies or rebuff roving packs of feral kindergartners. A safe and encouraging environment, the Alameda studio lines its walls with cushions and trained coaches who oversee classes and open-mat sessions where students practice their martial-arts techniques or pickup lines.
While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn’t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf’s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf’s ever-growing arcade area keeps button smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
The savvy staff at Recycle Bicycle carries 13 years in passionate service and cycle surgery to treat your two-wheeler to a refreshing, comprehensive tune-up. They'll use healing hands and dependable tools to check and adjust your headset, bottom bracket, and derailleurs as needed. A thorough cleansing and lubrication of the chain, cog, and chain rings of your drive train leaves the engine hydrated before long charity races through the Rust Belt. After restoring balance to the bike with a truing of the wheels, the dashing specialists will wash the frame and wheels, leaving your iron traveler looking shiny and sleek.
Maybe it's a good thing the founders of Brazilian jiujitsu were not huge men. At just 135 pounds, co-founder Helio Gracie was forced to rely on leverage rather than rote strength or merciless tickling to help him overcome larger opponents. So in an effort to reduce the natural advantage of size, he worked these techniques into Brazilian jiujitsu's system of joint locks, chokes, and take-downs. In that way, Brazilian jiujitsu became a practical form of self-defense; you didn't have to be able to kick down a tree to become dangerous.
At Ralph Gracie Jiu Jitsu, black belt martial artist Dave Clahan and his team have armed students of every size with these same leverage-based self-defense techniques. Inside their 4,000 square foot studio, students of all ages and levels soak up grappling and submission skills they can refine for the ring or reserve for life-saving moments on the street. In addition to building physical ability, the instructors also emphasize building intangible qualities, such as confidence and self-respect.