At Aikido Kokikai Silicon Valley, the expert martial-arts instructors teach their students how to deal with punches, strikes, aggressive chorus lines, and other forms of attacks. Classes for adults and children teach aikido kokikai, a form of martial arts that focuses on self-defense techniques. Training might take place indoors on the mat or outdoors at the beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Project Pulse introduces rhythm-acolytes of all ages and experience levels to a multicultural array of dance styles. Dancers can locate the fusion beats of a Bollywood class, jamming to tunes from Indian, Latin, Middle Eastern, and Western cultures. Classically trained instructors also drill physical coordination into students through breakdancing, ballet, and jazz classes, as well as classes in lyrical dance inspired by the dance-floor mastery of William Wordsworth. With no more than 15 bodies boogying during each lesson, 10–12 weeks of classes are sufficient to master routines and moves inside and out.
Blue Water Aquatics’ owner Randy Swift and his team of instructors open up Earth's final frontier to students of all skill levels with diving and snorkeling classes. Classes include basic courses such as Open Water Diver and specialty courses such as Night Diver, Underwater Photographer, and Squid Wrestler. Combining classroom, indoor pool, and open-water sessions, the programs equip the divers with sequentially more challenging skills in safe environments. The pro shop also proffers services such as gas fills, scuba repair, and rentals.