The team at Nor Cal Surf Shop encourages customers to bond with their natural surroundings via a gamut of exhilarating outdoor activities such as surfing, kiteboarding, snowboarding, and skateboarding. With more than 300 surfboards and an extensive wetsuit wardrobe, the staff outfits surfers in complete rental packages. Professional instructors on the Nor Cal team also accompany aspiring athletes on various outings to instill proper technique and break performance-inhibiting habits. All lessons are tailored to improve individual performance in natural settings, including skating lessons, which take place behind the Nor Cal Surf Shop on a halfpipe planted by the shop's resident ramp gardener.
Whether meant to scale mountains or drift down street shoulders, the mounts and cycling gear at Summit Bicycles ease any odyssey atop two wheels. The extensive selection ranges from Trek bikes for road and mountain to hybrid and commuter bikes that trump getting to work by hiding overnight in a coworker's trunk. Well aware of the importance of finding the ideal frame, the store lends out high-end bikes for test runs via its demo program, allowing riders to get a feel for the saddle's political bent before taking it home to meet their parents. For current owners, Summit's technicians repair and tune up already-owned bikes and help browsers find accessories such as tire-patching kits, electronic heart-rate monitors, and apparel from Bontrager and Pearl Izumi.
Serves and volleys fill the room with the thwack of paddles, which send orbs on an airborne path across 10 regulation-size tables at Peninsula Table Tennis Club. Monthly memberships allow patrons unlimited access to the fleet of tables to hone skills and baffle opponents with perfectly timed smashes. The drop-in passes can be used by one player or split among cohorts for a day of friendly competition without the hassle of making enough chocolate pudding for home pudding-wrestling matches.
The staffers at A Runner's Mind don’t just sell the shop’s precision athletic gear; they use it, too. Avid runners themselves, they prime visitors for efficient jogs or invigorating sprints with an array of apparel and hands-on training sessions. They help customers find their new sole mates with professional gait analysis, taking measurements and scrutinizing steps ranging from slow walks to full-speed runs before suggesting potential shoes from makers including Asics, Mizuno, Saucony, and New Balance. The shop also stocks equipment, helping customers stock up on water bottles, reflective vests, Nike, and The North Face running gear. In addition to hawking sportswear, the shop’s fitness experts devise 15- to 18-week training plans through their ARM Academy program, helping runners meet personal goals such as completing their first 5K or outrunning the world's slowest cheetah. The family-owned shop's commitment to running extends beyond its walls and into the local athletic community, with staffers often offering assistance at track meets and high-school events throughout the area.
Over the course of 50 years, the family that runs Helm of Sun Valley has amassed an inventory of top-shelf gear for wintry recreation and summertime watersports. Before stocking their shelves, the shop's athletic staffers take skis from Alpina, kiteboards from Cabrinha, and water skis from Connelly for test spins to appraise their performance. Standout sports gear snags a spot inside the store, along with apparel and accessories. Employees also rent out and tune up equipment. They specialize in fitting snowboard boots to feet, sometimes fashioning custom ZipFit liners by molding foam around arches. New kiteboard owners can master the sport by attending lessons, during which instructors teach basics on land before waving pupils onward into frothy crests.
Launched more than three decades ago, Site for Sore Eyes now operates in more than 35 showrooms throughout the Bay Area. Staffers at every location share their dedication when pairing customers with head-turning eyewear and contacts. The company offers a $25 warranty that secures all of its products, replacing broken frames for free and furnishing half-price replacements for glasses that are lost, stolen, or transformed into an acorn squash. In case eyes require prescription tweaks, each shop sits next door to California-licensed Sterling VisionCare doctors of optometry.