In 1987, indoor climbing was as unpopular in the Seattle area as breeding labradoodles. But Vertical World––a pioneer indoor climbing gym––introduced the city to the up-and-coming sport of rock climbing in a controlled environment. Since its inception, the gym has expanded to three other locations in Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond, the latter hosting eastside climbers for more than 20 years.
A team of experienced route creators challenges climbers with more than 200 bouldering, lead, or top-rope routes in a wide variety of difficulty levels. The gym hosts competitive youth teams that have gone on to national or world tournaments. The gym's staff of climbers and guides also leads outdoor excursions that build confidence and teach novices how to identify a rock wall in the wild.
It's been more than three decades since Andrew Drake rode his first wave, but his passion for surfing stays strong. Washington Surf Academy is the embodiment of his passion and has grown to include instruction not just for surfing but for paddleboards as well. Unlike a gingerbread man's enemies, Mr. Drake's classes don't take a cookie-cutter approach. "Every person is a unique case," he says. The diversity of his clientele is one of the things Mr. Drake finds most rewarding. "Some people will have huge fears, and it is nice to see them get over them. This one time, this lady was freaking out, but I talked her into it, and she loved it so much that she bought a board from us on the first day."
By helping them to float out of their comfort zones, Mr. Drake and his team open people up to the hidden world off Seattle's coast. With snow-capped peaks in the distance, surfers can conquer waves and paddleboarders can float beneath bald eagles flying to their next college history lecture.
Yoga instructor Hasna Atry maintains a zen-like composure as she leads her students through series of challenging poses. The once competitive swimmer and triathlete didn't attain this serene state easily. At her first yoga class, about 14 years ago, she found nothing but frustration. She would look around the room to see droves of people more fit and limber than she was. Then she asked herself, "Why am I comparing myself to others?" With that simple question, she set forth on an inner journey that she says gradually deepened her connection to the present moment.
Today, Atry leads standup-paddleboard-yoga classes to help clients navigate their own journeys. Of course, clients who just want a workout or who have already beaten the boss in the final asana level are welcome, too. Along with fellow instructor Brian Charlton, she meets her students at Surf Ballard before venturing into Puget Sound, where classes, generally limited to eight participants, anchor their boards. In addition to stimulating fine stability muscles, the water's constant rippling requires that each yoga pose be executed with precision. "If you place your foot wrong, you're going to go swimming," she says. Besides the added presence of mind demanded by the board's wobbliness, the Puget Sound's surroundings also center students in the present moment. Bald eagles and salmon make frequent appearances, and Atry once even had a baby seal try to pull her board away from class. This unique combination of exercise and the outdoors has earned WASUP plentiful local press, including coverage in the Seattle Times. Atry and her team donate a portion of their proceeds to the Noel House and Yoga Behind Bars programs.
Musikgarten classes elevate kinesthetic, logical, spatial, and social intelligences through musical instruction to children ages 3 months to 10 years. Each course responds to the developmental needs of a particular age group, with activities and acquired skills becoming more complex as classes ascend in age group. Family Music for Babies (ages 3–16 months) engages an adult and infant with 30–35 minutes of bouncing songs, dancing, and playing simple instruments. Curiosity curdles in amateur earthling brains and a foundation for future musical exploration is set during the Cycle of Seasons course, where children 3-1/2 to 5 years of age flirt with the foundations of rhythm and tune, coddle concentration skills, and garner the ability to self-express through sound waves. The Young Musician and Piano class, for ages 4-1/2–6 and 7–10 respectively, focus on symbolic thinking, memory, and listening acuity, and run for 55–60 minutes or until the first prodigious rock opera has been composed.
At ComedySportz Seattle, the spontaneity of improv humor marries the competitiveness of athletics in weekly shows that churn out laughs for roughly 100 minutes each. During a match, two opposing teams of comics square off in red and blue uniforms as a referee presides. The teams launch into sketches and routines fueled by audience suggestions, much like on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Since random, casual outbursts are so integral to the show, no two performances are the same.
From a six-month journey across the Indian subcontinent to graduating as one of the first yogis ever to be certified by Baptiste yoga creator, Baron Baptiste, there’s seldom been a dull moment in Lisa Black’s 12-year history with yoga. She even invented her own style of yogic practice called Shakti Vinyasa yoga in 2003. With the help of a fleet of instructors that she personally certified, she brings her wealth of experience to each class she teaches through Shakti Vinyasa Yoga’s four studio locations.
All four studio locations provide a venue for renowned yogis to visit and hold workshops while passing or levitating through town. The brightly lit, hardwood-floored rooms have hosted such experts as Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, and Ana Forrest.
Members of Olympic Athletic Club strengthen their muscles in a building where weary nineteenth-century travelers used to rest theirs. The historical former hotel still exudes old-fashioned glamour, from the theater-like marquee and a clock designed by renowned neon artist Roger Legerano to the interior's leather furniture and exposed brick walls. A tour of the inside of the club also reveals why it was named Best Workout Venue in 2009 by the Ballard News-Tribune and Best Health Club in 2012 by Seattle Magazine.
In addition to rows of cardio machines with personal-viewing screens, visitors catch a glimpse of group classes that range from meditative tai chi to high-intensity boot-camp workouts. Children in the Kids Korner can entertain themselves by calculating the number of calories in an invisible friend's lunch while their parents swim laps in the pool or play a game on the basketball and racquetball courts.