A nonprofit organization, Shoestring City Ranch is run by instructors that dedicate their time to teach teamwork and leadership skills to city-slicker kids by having them work with rescued animals. The environmentally friendly ranch hosts clinics on communicating with pets and group horseback-riding classes that teach everyone from tots to adults how to groom and ride. They also host fun events in addition to classes, such as the 5K Gallop and 1-Mile Tot Trot and a Roping Clinic 101, where a professional rodeo cowboy teaches students how to use a lasso.
Blaine Eastcott's love of the outdoors is rooted in fond childhood memories of family camping trips. On one such trip, Blaine's teenage self impulsively climbed a 100-foot rock only to soon find himself struck by panic high up on the rock face. He was paralyzed by fear, until a surge of adrenaline gave him the courage needed to scramble the final 10 feet up. This ordeal spurred him to take rock-climbing classes—and eventually led to his current position as the president of Rockreation. His three adrenaline-inducing arenas challenge climbers of all skill levels with more than 28,500 total square feet of climbing terrain, composed of jagged cliffs, bouldering nooks, and craggy archways. The faux-mountain range mimics the conditions of real rocks with indentions, overhangs, and eagle's nests.
The gyms devote one-third of their space to a bouldering area, which blends into a top-rope course fraught with varying angles, and a large lead area with an overhanging arch. Across these angles, passionate instructors with extensive outdoors experience—and a background in conversational mountain goat—guide students through the Fight Gravity program. The three-class series focuses on belaying basics, and progresses through technique instruction and bouldering. They also lead seasonal kids' camps where tiny humans can explore the routes, or plunge on a big swing and zipline. The gyms also have a separate area with machines, traditional weights, and cardio equipment for members who want to not only climb rocks, but also lift heavy ones above their heads.
When Darren Levine received his first Krav Maga black belt in 1984, he wasn't the first man to have worn that particular piece of fabric. The belt originally belonged to the man presenting it to him: Imi Lichtenfeld, the creator of Krav Maga. Darren had had the good fortune of learning the self-defense technique from Imi himself, and eventually became one of Imi's most trusted practitioners, developing training programs for more than 5,000 law enforcement and military personnel throughout the U.S.
In 1998, just one year after his beloved mentor passed away, Darren founded Krav Maga Worldwide to meet growing demand from curious civilians. The hand-to-hand technique is focused on reacting to realistic attacks, and teachers use scenarios inspired by everything from military combat, to late-night walks alone, to heated matches of Whac-A-Mole. Darren and his team lead various programs tailored for law enforcement and military members, women, fitness buffs, and even children, and they also offer certification programs for those looking to become instructors.
The certified instructors at PoleMoves invented a curriculum that's highly personalized in order to rectify the most common complaints about pole-fitness studios. They sort their students into clearly delineated levels for small group and private lessons, conducting regular assessments so that advanced practitioners need not repeat quizzes about which way is up. By devoting individual attention to their students, who each get their own 12.5-foot pole during class, they foster a supportive environment for shedding inhibitions.
The studio's courses cover basic pole-dancing techniques, the advanced inversions and tricks of METHOD classes, stretch-and-strengthen conditioning, and the meditative rhythms of NIA. During specialized workshops, instructors might demonstrate chair-dancing choreography or tips for aspiring teachers on planning their routines. The staff's mission is to highlight the legitimacy and accessibility of their gravity-defying art, and they've been recognized for doing so by the American Council on Exercise, AFAA, and the American Pole Fitness Association.
Earning all types of praise, including an endorsement from Los Angeles magazine as an exceptional boutique gym, Toluca Lake Tennis Club and Sports Center aims to live up to its reputation. Its private outdoor courts, surrounded by foothills and coniferous trees, play host to amateur and professional baize-ball endeavors. Tournaments include the Grey Goose Singles Challenge, where players compete for tickets to the U.S. Open, and more whimsical pursuits such as the Wimbledon Woodie Tournament, where players of all levels slap wooden rackets against oncoming woodpeckers.
Back in the fitness center, patrons cycle through a bevy of amenities. Swimmers battle the elements in a 60-foot indoor lap pool during aqua boot-camp classes and open swim, or they singe lounge-about calories with the cardio room's clutch of treadmills, Precor ellipticals, and stationary bikes. Wrangling the power of peer encouragement, trainers lead groups through fitness classes that range from Zumba to outdoor boot camp.