After 17 years as a professional fighter and nine titles, kickboxing and karate champion Brian Schwartz stepped out of retirement to try his fists at MMA. A broken hand and, subsequently, the first professional loss of his career slowed him down, but not for long—the next year, he returned to face and beat that opponent. Naturally enough for a man who can’t let a new challenge go untested, Schwartz then turned his focus to a new endeavor: the creation of Undisputed Boxing Gym, where he would share the secrets of the fight with a new generation.
Schwartz has assembled a dynamic staff of fighters with backgrounds in jujitsu, boxing, tae kwon do, and kickboxing to train both aspiring fighters and average fitness enthusiasts. Students can tone up and learn self-defense techniques or even chase a spot in the gym's amateur competitive program. The sweat flows in expansive training facilities that include a tae kwon do dojo, a cycling studio, a set of 40 Everlast heavy bags, and displays that track class progress as well as show the music videos for the songs being played. An in-house chiropractor helps align muscles and massages away any knots from learning an especially brutal tickle submission.
Jeff Smith, a college swim coach and swim-club aquatics director, and Joan Smith, an NCAA all-American swimmer and triathlete, joined forces to open a swim academy that teaches youngsters how to swim safely while having fun. The pair operates two facilities, each with its own heated pool staffed by instructors who have all graduated from King's Swim Academy's training program. Their program begins with Parent and Me classes for kids as young as 6 months old, which introduce children to the water and teach basic skills such as kicking and changing their own diaper underwater. As students progress through the levels, they eventually learn skills such as freestyle swimming, backstroke, flip turns, and survival swimming. Instructors also lead a swim-technique and fitness class that prepares swimmers for swim team while promoting a healthy lifestyle and honing stroke skills.
When creating Affinity Badminton Club, the owners studied courts from around the world to develop playing conditions specially optimized for badminton. The results can be seen and felt on Affinity's seven custom-built courts made from four layers of material designed to create ideal traction for running and jumping. The 30-foot ceilings are painted black to improve overhead visibility and light fixtures are placed so they don't blind players or set fire to airborne shuttlecocks. In addition to drop-in play sessions, Affinity hosts group lessons for beginners and private one-on-one lessons for players of all ages and skill levels.
Brusque commands and sharp criticism never cross the lips of Peninsula Fencing Academy’s head coaches Jay and Chris. They believe that encouragement is always a more effective way to drive students toward their competitive goals. That’s why the entire coaching staff practices positive reinforcement in youth and adult fencing classes for all skill levels. This approach helps coaches teach everything from fundamental footwork and blade work to competitive maneuvers as their students find extra support in peers through bonds of camaraderie and sportsmanship.
Designed and developed by vocal coach and singer/songwriter Ruth Gerson, the Singingbelt trains singers and public speakers to support their voices with their diaphragms. The belt provides feedback on the position of the diaphragm, which signals to the wearer any time they cease supporting their breath. The belt can help singers develop power, tone, pitch, and endurance.
When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.