Though the birth of a child changes the lives of all parents, it doesn’t usually spark inspiration for a new business. But for the Soon family, the arrival of son Jordan Alexander highlighted the need for a place where little ones can explore, learn, and socialize through interactive play. So the parents created Diddalidoo to fill this void.
The Soon family's playground welcomes kids aged 0–4 to play with toys and solve puzzles within its colorful confines. Separate areas cater to different age groups, with a baby area perfect for honing sensory skills and discussing the rising costs of rattles. A two-level playground looms over the toddler play area and creates laughs with its bright-yellow racing slides. Granting breaks from playtime, a quiet room caters to nursing mothers, a boutique shop sells gifts, and an onsite café serves up health-focused snacks and food for hungry teddy bears.
Dart Ops creates a safe indoor battlefield where players vie for victory using toy dart guns loaded with foam ammo propelled by short blasts of air. Neon-colored screens, walls made of mesh netting, and hanging targets pepper the arena space, which transforms into a monsoon of flying foam at the start of each friendly battle. As games progress, players can curl their trigger fingers around more advanced weaponry, including velcro-tipped darts that adhere to targets or the weak spots of enemy sock puppets. A marshall ensures fair play and organizes different types of game play, such as Free for All, Capture the Flag, and Protect the President. Aside from open play, Dart Ops' staff also host birthdays in a party booth and organize monthly Tour of Duty tournaments.
LA Boxing’s instructors thumb their noses at the suggestion that fighting has no place in public. They happily subvert this social convention, leading students through safe and noncontact fitness classes inspired by the pugilistic arts. Each boxing, kickboxing, or group MMA class is lead by a professional fighter, who teaches basic skills during the up-tempo, one-hour workouts. Students warm up with plyometrics before strapping on 6-ounce gloves and hitting a heavy bag with combination of kicks, knees, and elbows. Classes may burn between 800 and 1,000 calories per session, improve coordination and stamina, and increase your tolerance for listening to the theme from Rocky IV on repeat.
Helmed by martial arts instructor Willy Cahill for nearly 50 years, the instructors at Cahill's Judo Academy dojo drill students in the martial arts of Kodokan judo and jujitsu. In spacious studio interiors, students embark on up to 2.5-hour classes, rehearsing throws, grapples, strikes, and joint locks to subdue opponents and force stubborn jam jars to yield their contents. The instructors are well-versed in the combat-focused jujitsu and in the less combat-intensive practice of judo, working to hone state- and international-championship medal winners participating in Olympic events, Pan American Games, and special competitions.
Under the formidable chops of professional limelighter Giovannie Espiritu, The Young Actors Workshop edifies aspiring ingénues with a slate of technique-toning classes in acting, auditioning, and the entertainment business. A recurring regular on several hit network shows, Espiritu also boasts familiarity with casting and representation, granting each student comprehensive tutelage that’s been proven to score her scholars notable roles, auditions, and VIP access to swanky backstage snack spreads. Geared towards pint-size pontificators and nimble-tongued teens, each class hones young actors' abilities in a nurturing environment that places the student’s comfort center stage.
Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros; the Beginning Digital Photography course teaches students to harness the intricacies of their instruments, and the Pro Academy offers inside tips on how to successfully snap wedding portraits, pose recent grads, or tease out candid emotions. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.