Learning combat skills is not the main benefit of martial-arts lessons, as the instructors at TriValley ATA Martial Arts know well during the journey from white belt to black belt. Their students develop valuable personal skills—discipline, self-confidence, and focus. Both kids and adults learn proper stance and how to block and strike as they work toward acquiring the next belt. Mastering these physical skills requires developing mental skills, which helps bring balance to the mind, body, and spirit in a more fun way than trying to meditate while lying on a seesaw.
Set amid a stretch of hilly terrain, Canyon Lakes Golf Course's 18-hole course offers a player-friendly layout with scenic views of Mount Diablo and the San Ramon Valley. Throughout the course, towering pine trees and treacherous sand traps constrict the fairways, eager to ensnare errant golf balls or 7-iron medal detectors looking for buried treasure. When not taking on the challenges of the undulating course, golfers can head to Canyon Lakes' adobe-style clubhouse, which serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day and breakfast from 6:45 a.m. to noon on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
For more than 30 years, the senseis behind Martial Arts America have filled the minds and fists of students as young as 4 years old through adulthood with the focus, discipline, and confidence that comes from studying self-defense. The instructors lead five martial-arts forms—tae kwon do, eskrima, jujitsu, krav maga, and CDT training, which stands for compliance, direction, and takedown—helping patrons strengthen their bodies and minds. This multidimensional program trains students in defensive tactics such as strikes, grappling, throws, rolls, and using fighting sticks to protect innocent civilians from rogue baseball-pitching machines.
At Stepz, professional Bollywood dance instructors imbue students of all ages with dance moves inspired by Eastern India. They foster an environment of support and encouragement as dancers soak up fundamental foot positions and learn to express themselves through fluid movements and flowing hand gestures. Students looking to shed excess pounds can speed up routines in one-hour aerobics classes, which lead groups though rigorous dance routines specifically designed to tone muscle.
Alexander Crispim, the muscular, prolific leader of Crispim BJJ Barra Brothers, presides over his blue-floored kingdom, watching as patrons battle one another with traditional brazilian jujitsu grappling techniques. Rows of heavy, black punching bags dangle between padded walls, all centered around the gym's main draw—the MMA cage, which is free of man-eating tigers. In addition to jujitsu, the gym offers a variety of combat-based programs including muay thai, boxing, and wrestling. Those looking for a high-intensity workout without the sparring can opt for MMA fitness classes, which turn traditional boxing and muay thai moves into aerobic routines to burn fat and build strength.
Amid sun-drenched hills, New Heights Training Stables' long barn and training facility stretch out under the giant sky. The stable is a one-stop shop for everything horsey, with a covered arena, outdoor jumping arena, dressage court, and cross-country course. Here, instructors train equestrians of all ages in a variety of disciplines, teaching them beginner skills—such as taking the reigns—and advanced skills—including leaping over fences to save princesses. Led by head trainer David Acord, the instructors also teach students horse-care skills and train the horses themselves. Those who have their own horses can board them in one of the many roomy stalls, where mares and stallions alike are treated to high-quality hay, fresh bedding, and daily turnouts into the surrounding pastures.