In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to play and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
As they enter the training circuit 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 by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds 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.
HealthRidge Fitness Center is all about options. From more than 80 weekly group exercise classes to sprawling facilities that include a 1/8-mile indoor track, racquetball courts, and cardio machines with personal TVs, both beginning and advanced exercisers can find an activity that moves at their preferred pace. Guests get pumped up in boot-camp sessions taught by instructors who have been certified in a military-instructor training course led by Army National Guard master fitness trainer and staff sergeant Ken Weichert. To calm the mind, a yoga or Pilates class reduces stress while strengthening core muscles. The center also features a workout area and classes designed specifically for kids.
In warm weather, an outdoor pool decorated with a natural-looking rock formation invites swimmers to splash about a tranquil waterfall. Exercisers can unwind after a workout with a pedicure, a massage, or a facial at the Spa at HealthRidge, which has been named one of America?s Top 100 Spas by SpAwards. The caf? and lounge area offers nutritious meals and a cozy fireplace that is ideal for soothing achy muscles or burning cheat-day pages torn from food journals.
Sadlers Indoor Racing draws its inspiration from the go-kart tracks of Europe. What does that mean? In one word: Geschwindigkeit. At Sadlers, imported German go-karts zoom around at up to 45 mph, or twice the speed of happiness. The 86,000-square-foot facility contains three tire-lined tracks: an oval track ripe for speed and passing; a road race track that simulates European-style street racing; and a grand prix track that combines elements of the two.
To ensure accurate race results, an electronic tracking system determines every winner, runner-up, and close third, though human spectators may prefer to watch from the special-event hall known as The Octane Room, which overlooks the course. Other visitors can trade checkered flags for the checkered floor of the 10,000-square-foot game room, where billiards tables provide relief from braking and banking in favor of breaking and banking.
The martial-arts masters at AKKA Karate USA specialize in kenpo karate, a unique form that builds muscle tone and reflexes in order to use the body’s natural weapons—hands and feet—for self-defense. In addition to kenpo, they also lead classes focused on MMA, tai chi, and weapons training. Often, AKKA holds special events such as tournaments and sparring seminars. In addition to learning self-defense techniques, students also build valuable life skills such as an appreciation for fitness, discipline, and self-confidence.
Planet Beach Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.