As part of its mission to cultivate Southern California’s native flora, the Theodore Payne Foundation encourages Californians to get acquainted with their rootsy neighbors during its introductory four-hour native-plant horticulture class. Horticulturalist Lili Singer reveals which area plants survive droughts and attract native birds and butterflies, and which ones are just Old Man Jasper from the abandoned amusement park wearing a ghost mask. She'll also clarify the concept of plant communities and give you tips on selecting plants for various types of gardens. By the end of the class, green thumbs and their attached humans will gain an introductory-level initiation into establishing new plantings as well as how to encourage plants' growth by pruning them, irrigating them, and attending their piano recitals. Graduates will be eligible for the foundation’s three-part course in native-plant garden design.
The Sylmar Olive Festival celebrates the harvest with a sampling of oils and recipes for olives, tasty food, and dancing to a diverse schedule of entertainment. On Saturday at 11 a.m., a 3-mile parade kicks off the festivities before wending its way to the park to watch the Folklorico Dancers and listen to old-school funk-infused sounds from the Positive Source Band. On Sunday, Radio Disney broadcasts live from the festival, where guests test their bellies in a burrito-eating contest accompanied by the festive sounds of a mariachi band. On Monday, feathered and furred wildlife stops by for a meet-and-greet, and the sass-talking car from Knight Rider rolls in to dazzle eyes and lament its separation from David Hasselhoff. A different car show will be featured each day. Throughout the fest, some 50 world-class chalk artists dazzlingly decorate the ground with modern and classical images throughout the park.
Former Olympic bronze medalist Lloyd Eisler oversees the LA Kings Valley Ice Center's day-to-day operations, which include public skating sessions, private lessons, and hockey leagues designed for youth, adult, and special-needs players. Thanks to extensive renovations in the fall of 2011, the facility now sports a sleek lobby with energy-efficient lighting. The two-rink facility hosts birthday parties and runs a well-stocked pro shop where you can get hockey sticks and helmets or sharpen your blades after skating across the parking lot.
Led by co-owners with backgrounds in professional dance, the experienced instructors at Pilates Studio City cultivate carved torsos with exercises that target the core. During personalized private sessions, pupils to bend into Pilates poses or the shape of their own initials atop a mat and sliding equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda chair. Teachers also divide their attention among students of all levels during group classes, which range from Level 1 mat sessions to dynamic Nia workouts. Nia blends elements of dance, martial arts, and the healing arts into a series of 52 movements that rotate from session to session to keep muscles from getting bored.
Fitness blooms at three locations, which together host more than 130 classes each week. The Studio City location surrounds exercisers in rustic wooden walls, in contrast with the floor-to-ceiling mirrors and undulating modern lines of the Porter Ranch studio's décor. Mat classes at The Annex stretch and bend beneath a large photo mural of a forest so that students can draw inspiration from branches' ability to hold themselves indefinitely in plank pose.
As the morning begins, a row of toddlers takes turns tumbling feet over head while their parents guide them into the correct movement. Later, school-age kids sit in a circle, legs stretched before them as they try to touch their toes. At My Gym, the trained staff imbues kids aged six weeks to nine years with life skills through music, physical activities, and games. Many classes focus on incorporating exercises with social and developmental skills. Additionally, gymnastics training and the development of sports skills teach tykes discipline in a noncompetitive atmosphere. All classes take place in a well-padded room, led by staff trained in child development and fluent in Muppet. Birthday parties give the special boy or girl and their entourage private access to the entire facility, games, and puppets.
With Beatbox, a trip to the dance club isn't much of a trip at all—you just have to walk outside. The soundproofed trailer arrives at doorsteps with a live DJ in tow, who spins a playlist of top-40 hits personalized by the host or hostess. Up to 25 partygoers groove atop an interactive, LED-lit dance floor while a disco ball sparkles, strobe lights flicker, and clouds waft from a fog machine.
Along with dance parties, Beatbox's karaoke system lets guests show off their crooning skills as they sing along to lyrics displayed on a flat-screen TV. Though designed with children in mind, Beatbox is available for adult soirees.
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