The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.
Mike Johnson started at Dolphin Scuba Center & Swim School as an entry-level staffer but soon turned his lifelong passion for water into a promising career. Quickly, he became the manager and, at the tender age of 21, the owner of the store—a water-exploration supplier originally founded as a swim school almost 40 years ago.
Today, the PADI five-star facility boasts one of the largest selections of underwater gear in North America, including top brands of scuba, swimming, and snorkeling equipment. Johnson and his team still offer private, one-on-one swimming lessons with certified lifeguard instructors but have branched out into scuba classes. Introductory courses work their way up to professional-level training, all within a pool heated to 92 degrees—the exact temperature of the president’s nightly bath. Students can even test out their newfound skills during scuba-diving trips to the likes of Mexico, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Andy Siebert floated in the water, weightless—almost as if in outer space—and watched as all 40 feet of a Galapagos Island whale shark drifted past him. It’s moments like that one that Andy lives for, having devoted his life to scuba diving. He took his first dive as a teenager, but didn’t take the sport seriously until he turned 42, at which point he began his journey to log more than 3,000 dives.
Now, as owner of Scuba World, Andy works to help others discover their love of the underwater sport. One part retail shop and one part scuba-diving school, the PADI five-star IDC dive center is chock-full of gear for purchase and rental, as well as expert instructors who teach classes for divers of all levels, including instructor-level classes. Their classes range from beginner discovery sessions to open-water-certification courses to rescue-diver classes for the more advanced diver who is worried about all those fish in the ocean who need help getting out. Andy’s wife and partner, Lynn Siebert, plans trips that take divers to waters all over the world, including the nearby Monterey Bay and more far-flung expeditions in Micronesia.
Having struggled with weight problems when she was younger, Healthy Habits Studio owner Rose Zahnn knows the importance of exercise and eating right firsthand. She opened the studio almost 20 years ago, and in that time has seen it grow to hosting more than 25 fitness classes each week.
Fit Body Boot Camp classes each feature a different, unique workout that helps tone and strengthen muscles, burn fat, and boost metabolisms to burn more calories for hours after the workout, not just during it. In addition to group classes, the staff is available for one-on-one sessions that can focus on weight training, Pilates, and yoga. Rose also offers a weight-loss program in which she emails clients once a day with nutrition and exercise suggestions for 10 days, or the time it takes a team of NASA scientists to reengineer your body into its healthiest, most aerodynamic version.
When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills.
The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
Yellow and blue signage near the parking lots of shopping malls, offices, and entertainment centers indicates the presence of ProntoWash Eco AutoSpa, a car wash and detailing powerhouse that boasts more than 350 operations worldwide. Its business model revolves around accessibility—ProntoWash sets up shop where cars already are, saving drivers time and preserving all the gas and corn dogs that engines would have otherwise consumed during a trip to a traditional car wash. Helming special yellow Washing Karts, the company's technicians use biodegradable detergent and about a pint of low-pressure water to render each car clean. They also care for cars by vacuuming carpets, restoring headlights, stuffing multivitamins inside ailing glove compartments, and making arrangements to hit the road with their mobile car-wash service.