When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.
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.
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.
Smiling terra-cotta statues, forever posing, and potted orchids caught in a heliotropic stretch mirror the stillness and intensity inherent in Yoga at Cindy's challenging sessions. Skilled yogis guide groups of fewer than 30 students through hot-yoga classes, sweating out toxins and loose change caught in pores in the 98-degree rooms. Practitioners of all skill levels bend their way through a variety of poses in the 60- and 90-minute sessions as the heat helps to keep muscles malleable, improve blood flow, and promote detoxification. Classes include heated Vinyasa-flow that focuses on the synchronization of breath and movement, more vigorous power-flow courses that tone muscles, and specially designed classes for recent mothers and mothers-to-be. In between classes, the studio is cleaned daily, and deep cleaned every other week to avoid the notoriously judgmental eye of the full and half moons.
Master beersmith Peter Catizone discovered his passion for brewing while making homebrewed batches of beer in the 1980s. Eventually, he developed his hobby into a craft and his do-it-yourself recipes into a microbrew powerhouse with a mantel full of awards. Today at Faultline Brewing Company’s lively taphouse, the staff pours samples from a smorgasbord of more than 20 beers, ranging from the clear, clean taste of a Rhineland-style kölsch to the malty richness of an inky-black irish stout. Offerings from the lunch and dinner bills of fare complement the local brews with Louisiana-style seafood gumbo, flatiron steak with swiss chard, and generously portioned Angus beef burgers. On Friday and Saturday nights, live musicians serenade guests as they enjoy beer flights and frosty pints on the open-air patio or in the lounge.
Supervised by a Culinary Institute of America–trained chef, kitchen staff at Arka simmer gourmet Indian fare, filling a colorful dining room with savory aromas. The seasonal menu fuses tastes from both the Northern and Southern sectors of the subcontinent to create rich curries as well as regional specialties such as chickpea masala or lentil dumplings. Waiters can suggest wine or beer pairings such as Indian Kingfisher beer or Spanish rioja, and printed symbols on the menu indicate which entrees are gluten-free, vegan, or favored by Batman.
Arka—which means "sun"—surrounds diners in brilliant color as they tuck into their elegantly plated fare. Crimson walls melt into goldenrod, lime green, and purple, and one surface hosts a mural of the restaurant's namesake celestial body.