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.
The growl of lions and tigers will be replaced by the growls of guitars as the Sactopalooza Spring Party lights up the Sacramento Zoo with music from tribute bands and DJ Rigatony. No Duh blasts a high-energy pop set based on the music of No Doubt with a number of visuals, costumes, and props from the band’s music videos. Nominated for Best Tribute Band at the 2010 San Diego Music Awards, the Red Not Chili Peppers fill the air with classic funk-rock melodies and the four-chord password that grants entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to the concerts, attendees can partake in hands-on activities such as mechanical bull riding and gladiator jousting with foam poles.
The Sactopalooza Spring Party is the largest annual fundraising event for the Active 20-30 Club of Sacramento. This group of 20- to 30-year-old volunteers works year-round to improve the lives of local children with special needs. In addition to raising funds for children, the group organizes hands-on events to interact with children at an annual picnic, winter clothing drives, and a holiday party at the UC Davis cancer center. Proceeds from the party helps support these events and the organization’s work with children throughout the region.
The team behind Eleakis & Elder Photography draws artistic inspiration from what is most important in their own lives: their human and four-legged family members. Roger Ele and his wife and part-time assistant, Joan Stathakis-Ele, founded the studio in 1986; since then, Roger has relied on low-light photography and his love for animals to capture countless families, brides, and beloved pets. Chantel Elder joined the staff in 2001 and became a partner in 2008. When she's not busy in the studio, she can be found cooking with her new husband, spending time in the garden, and hanging out with her two boston terriers. New crew member Mark Long has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years—about as long as he's been married. Though he studied commercial and underwater photography at the renowned Brooks Institute, he now looks no further than his two children and grandchild for a smiling subject.
In addition to snapping pictures of furry friends, the photographers support the Sacramento SPCA and other charitable animal causes. They can turn feline or canine portraits into wall art, a 30-page album, and gift cards, or shred them and weave the strips into a pet sweater. They are also fans of the performing arts: Roger has done work for The Sacramento Ballet and has been the official photographer of Sacramento Opera since 1984.
At G'nique's Spa Services, owner, aesthetician, and massage therapist Genique Freeman guides her team with the conviction that total wellness is achieved when each patient feels beautiful, relaxed, and cared for. Freeman's staff makes a point of opening communication lines with each client, welcoming both English and Spanish speakers and discovering their patients' treatment preferences and favorite Kevin Bacon films via a simple online health-history form. Organic and wild-harvested ingredients from product lines such as De La Terre ease health concerns, and skin-purifying treatments are frequently paired with massages to heighten the therapeutic effects of both. Calm lighting and soft music welcome clients to leave their workplace stresses at the door, and a no-walk-in policy ensures patient comfort by safeguarding against overcrowding or a sudden influx of encyclopedia salesmen. Also supporting the spa's philosophy that physical and psychological health go hand in hand, G'nique's encourages veterans and their families to take respite in pampering by offering military discounts on specialty services, such as massages and facials.
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.
Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.