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.
In 1955, Dominick Chirichillo’s grandfather began teaching him the family pastime: winemaking. They worked on a wine press in the basement of his New York home, transforming bunches of grapes into nuanced reds and whites. Quickly finding that the hobby of his ancestors was his passion, Dominick entered his creations in amateur competitions around the East Coast. When he felt confident enough to open up his own winery, he moved to northern California, lured by the prospect of living and working right next door to the vineyards that grew his grapes. His winery—named Domenico to honor his Italian heritage—now produces boutique wines that have won more than 300 awards for their rich, complex palates and excellent scores in the swimsuit competition. Some varieties are made in batches of only 100 or 200 cases, allowing his staff to innovate fearlessly. Locals often drop by the winery’s spacious tasting room to sample these limited-edition flavors. Outfitted with a 24-foot mahogany bar and sweeping drapes, the tasting room recalls an elegant Tuscan café, complete with impeccable hospitality. The staff eagerly shares the undertones and flavors of every pour, suggesting potential food pairings or the best glass of red to throw at an offensive suitor.
With more than 15 years of flying experience, Fly Bay Area creates tours that are designed to bring recreational flying to the general public. Participants on Fly Bay Area's tours can choose to see the Peninsula, Pacific Coast/Half Moon Bay, San Francisco & Golden Gate, or the Ultimate SkyTour all around the Bay Area—but instead of exploring each up-close, they view them from around 1,500 feet in the air. Experienced pilots steer four-seat, single-engine planes over the San Francisco Peninsula and Bay, across sweeping redwood forests and the Pacific coast, during sky tours at any time of day. The FAA-approved air-tour company also lets passengers helm the plane's controls on U-Fly tours. During these flights, wannabe pilots can perform basic flight maneuvers and make airplane noises with their mouths, eschewing the extra technical and theoretical lessons required by pilot-training programs. On any flight, staff members can snap high-resolution digital photographs or high-definition videos that document moments of the customer's in-flight experience.
Helicopter pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr. founded the Hiller Aviation Museum with the future in mind, using history to inspire future generations to explore and create. He had firsthand proof of the innovative abilities of youth—his design for the first successful coaxial helicopter landed at age 19.
In the museum he established in 1998, 53,000 square feet of exhibits let visitors of all ages discover more than 40 aircraft without the dangers of encountering them in the wild. A narrated walking tour leads the way through them, tracing the history of flight from its humble beginnings in village jumping contests to today's supersonic jets. Fixed-wing and rotary aircraft designed by Hiller and others rest throughout the huge, bright space, while weekends beckon would-be pilots into a flight simulator equipped with huge monitors of bay views and realistic yokes, throttles, and pedals.
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.
Allison Gonzalez spent two decades as a ballerina, and more than half of that time using Pilates as a cross-training method. Eventually, Allison earned her instructor certification and began teaching Pilates professionally, utilizing her dancer's grace on Pilates mats and reformers. Nowadays, she helms a studio--Purely Pilates--that stays true to Joseph Pilates' original vision.
Joe, who was a boxer and gymnast, developed his exercise regime in the 1920s with the goal of strengthening the body's "powerhouse"--which includes the abs, lower back and butt, but not the coal furnace at the back of our skulls. His roster of more than 500 exercises, plus his five signature pieces of resistance equipment, continue to influence Purely Pilates' intimate classes today--regardless of which fully-certified instructor leads them and if they are group-style or private lessons.