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.
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.
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.
Lion Solutions' professional car caretakers travel to auto owners' homes and offices to shine and freshen vehicles inside and out. During the two-hour Superior detail service, technicians hand wash and towel dry exteriors before dressing tires and rims in enamel-protecting tuxedoes. Streak-free cleaning solutions remove smudges from glass surfaces, and the showroom finish imbues doors and dashboards with brand-new appeal. Applied manually, carnauba wax protects paint, shielding it from invading dirt clouds and locust armies. Vacuums inhale unwanted particles from fabrics and vents, and washcloths scour grime from interior surfaces. A fragrance package of choice upgrades each vehicle's interior atmosphere. In lieu of the Superior detail package, drivers may opt for the four-hour Lion luxury detail, which includes the aforementioned services on top of shampooing, extracting, and spot-treating stains and slushy spills on carpeting and floor mats.
A Paul Mitchell Partner School, The California Academy tends to the talents of student tress tamers and skin sparklers with a range of supervised hair, wax, and skincare services. The 8,500-square-foot training facility excavates unwanted hairs with waxing of the eyebrows ($10), chin ($7), or back ($30). A 30-minute pumpkin resurfacer ($45) smoothes, renews, and brightens the complexion without the embarrassment of taking an entire pie to the face. Students manipulate manes with everything from a basic cut and style ($12+), which comes with a five-minute stress-relieving scalp treatment, to a perm ($30+) or full highlight ($40+).
Two entrepreneurial friends had two goals: start an airbrush makeup company and open a beauty school. They knew airbrush makeup was used extensively in Hollywood, and desire for the lightweight formula was in demand from brides and models—and they knew more makeup artists would need to be trained to apply it. After creating FlawlessAir Cosmetics, the friends opened Flawless Pro Make-Up Academy to further educate professional makeup artists, as well as teach laypersons cosmetic tips such as how to best apply false eyelashes or airbrush tans. Advanced courses, such as airbrush, TV and film, and drag and special-effects techniques, allow pros to expand their repertoires. Flawless's founders know beauty is a business, which is why makeup artists can also take a technology and social-media class to learn how to design a website to advertise their expertise.