Over the course of 50 years, the family that runs Helm of Sun Valley has amassed an inventory of top-shelf gear for wintry recreation and summertime watersports. Before stocking their shelves, the shop's athletic staffers take skis from Alpina, kiteboards from Cabrinha, and water skis from Connelly for test spins to appraise their performance. Standout sports gear snags a spot inside the store, along with apparel and accessories. Employees also rent out and tune up equipment. They specialize in fitting snowboard boots to feet, sometimes fashioning custom ZipFit liners by molding foam around arches. New kiteboard owners can master the sport by attending lessons, during which instructors teach basics on land before waving pupils onward into frothy crests.
Named as a favorite golf range in 2009 by Golf Digest, Mariners Point offers 64 well-manicured practice stalls, including natural grass and a challenging 9-hole, par 3 course. The double-decker driving range features on-site professionals, high-quality range balls, and power tees that automatically tee up the ball. Use the range card to purchase driving ammunition in small ($7 for 60 balls), medium ($11 for 105 balls), or large ($13 for 165 balls) baskets. Golfers receive 10 additional balls for visiting the range before 11 a.m. on weekdays. Clearly defined target greens and easy-to-read yardage markers make for far easier practice than aiming for the blowholes of passing belugas. When it’s game time, players can hit the course for a round of golf. Drivers, putters, and severely confused baseball players are treated to breathtaking San Francisco Bay views from each of the nine greens.
Within the verdant expanse of Burlingame Golf Center’s practice facilities, instructor Dave Atchison, who attained his PGA Class A status in 1981, imparts score-shaving tips to pupils of all ages and abilities. After demonstrating his passion for golf each morning by shaving with a sharpened divot tool, Dave heads to the golf center to showcase club-swinging skills that have fueled his 33-year teaching career, which has included six seasons of coaching at UCLA and another seven at UC Santa Barbara. With a full-length driving range, practice areas for chipping and pitching, and a sandtrap for bunker shots and makeshift hourglass construction, Burlingame Golf Center helps Dave and his clients foster improvements in all facets of the game.
Whether meant to scale mountains or drift down street shoulders, the mounts and cycling gear at Summit Bicycles ease any odyssey atop two wheels. The extensive selection ranges from Trek bikes for road and mountain to hybrid and commuter bikes that trump getting to work by hiding overnight in a coworker's trunk. Well aware of the importance of finding the ideal frame, the store lends out high-end bikes for test runs via its demo program, allowing riders to get a feel for the saddle's political bent before taking it home to meet their parents. For current owners, Summit's technicians repair and tune up already-owned bikes and help browsers find accessories such as tire-patching kits, electronic heart-rate monitors, and apparel from Bontrager and Pearl Izumi.
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.
As strobe lights slice across the stage, masked dancers descend from scaffolding and undulate to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Minutes later, a troupe of 6-year-olds takes to the same stage in traditional Indian shalwar, or loose trousers, and launch into a frenetic dance set to fast-paced bhangra music. These divergent routines—performed at Mona Khan Company’s student showcase—hint at the scope of dance styles that instructors bring to their classes. Though traditional folk and classical South Asian dance make an appearance, instructors also incorporate styles such as salsa, modern, and hip-hop.
This Bollywood dance philosophy has propelled Mona Khan Company into the national spotlight. The company’s professional dance troupe has performed with Bollywood demigod Shah Rukh Khan and dancer Shaan, and dazzled a live audience on America’s Got Talent.
Though classes at Mona Khan Company occasionally lead to professional dance careers, the studio strives to make Bollywood dance accessible to every aspiring dancer. For example, Jollywood dance classes train performers age 65 and older, and the Jeena program trains special-needs students. “It’s more than just dance,” says Ms. Shankar, the company’s dance captain. “We try to build a whole community around it."