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.
Before moving to the United States to be with her husband, founder Shaira Bhan applied her lifelong experience in Bollywood dance—along with the jazz, ballet, and contemporary training she received in London—to supply choreography for films including Dhoom and Namastey London. Once settled in California, Bhan launched Dance Identity to offset the scarcity of studios supplying structured, progressive curriculums in multiple dance styles. She and her team help students to improve their health and build confidence through numerous creative classes, ranging from Bollywood DanceFuze—a blend of Bollywood, hip-hop, jazz, funk, contemporary, and Bhangra techniques—to club salsa, a class that teaches students timing, footwork, and how to spin without dropping any cilantro. When not at Dance Identity, Bhan hosts NDTV Good Times' health and wellness show, Bodylicious.
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.
The talented instructors of Nach K Dekh call on years of dance-floor experience to impart the rhythmic gestures, fast footwork, and pulsating energy of Bollywood dance in classes for children, teens, and adults. Weekly classes begin with basic steps, then build on the skills learned in past sessions to help students eventually perform an entire Bollywood number, incorporating lively music and props to entertain the public at a theater or nearby Taj Mahal. Intimate sessions of no more than 12 students allow one-on-one coaching from instructors, helping dancers develop their skills quickly and correctly. For a more sweat-focused session, Nach K Dekh's BollyBurn class challenges participants to high-impact cardio workouts and muscle conditioning set to Bollywood music.
The self-defense system of krav maga is most closely associated with the Israeli Defense Forces, which has taught the efficient and easy-to-learn combat technique to its members since the 1940s. The system is also popular among civilians, who in the Bay Area can learn beginner through professional level defensive moves from instructors led by veteran Master Shlomi Katz, who was head of krav maga training for the counter terror school of the IDF. In addition to learning krav maga, students can opt for training in other martial arts—MMA for adults and karate for kids—as well as intense fitness classes that combine cross-training, MMA conditioning, weight training, TRX resistance, and more.
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.