In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
AeroDynamic Aviation co-owner and chief pilot Zdravko took his first flight at the ripe old age of 2 weeks. As his baby eyes looked out the window of the DC-3 airliner, watching the houses grow smaller and smaller and the clouds become his companions, the idea of flight bored itself into his mind. Zdravko has now racked up more than 7,000 flight hours?most of them as a flight instructor?and completed taildragger and acrobatics training with Amelia Reid, a pioneer of female flying and the 1960 founder of the location's original flight school.
Together with his fellow FAA-certified instructors, Zdravko shares his passion for flight via sport, private, commercial, and aerobatics training. The staff is dedicated to educating pilots on tailwheel aircraft and teaching true stick-and-rudder flying, which is much more reliable than using leather reins attached to each wing.
Weak bodies are whittled into lean, muscular fighting machines as instructors at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teach the martial arts styles used for UFC competition, self-defense, and overall conditioning. Men, women, and kids train in the company of students such as professional fighter Cain Velasquez and instructor Daniel Cormier, a former Olympian. AKA splits its MMA, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing classes among four facilities, with group-training sessions and private professional sessions taking place in modern training studios with heavy bags, speed bags, and Olympic-grade mats. The Hillside location also features a professional-size ring for sparring or marriage-proposal practice, and the two-story AKA headquarters on Realm Avenue highlights an MMA cage, TRX suspension room, and cardio theater stocked with StairMasters and Jacobs Ladder machines.
SF Mixology founder Shawn Refoua blended his experience as program director and a student of behavioral psychology into an academy that brings bartending methodology and cocktail mixology into the 21st century. With an eye toward libation history, the school's interactive classes range from basic and advanced mixology courses to in-depth lessons on specific liquors and the evolution of the cocktail through the 14 years of Prohibition and the decade when swizzle sticks were outlawed. Each class complements the goals of cocktail party hosts, as well as aspiring or continually learning bartenders, who can learn and practice essential behind-the-bar techniques while brushing up on flavor theory and emerging recipe methodologies. Held in a high-profile bar, the laid-back classes include plenty of sample sips and enthusiastic toasts to newfound friends.
The talented instructors of Nach K Dekh call on years of dance-floor experience to impart the rhythmic gestures, fast footwork, and pulsating energy of Bollywood dance in classes for children, teens, and adults. Weekly classes begin with basic steps, then build on the skills learned in past sessions to help students eventually perform an entire Bollywood number, incorporating lively music and props to entertain the public at a theater or nearby Taj Mahal. Intimate sessions of no more than 12 students allow one-on-one coaching from instructors, helping dancers develop their skills quickly and correctly. For a more sweat-focused session, Nach K Dekh's BollyBurn class challenges participants to high-impact cardio workouts and muscle conditioning set to Bollywood music.