Foils clash and ring out through Davis Fencing Academy as students practice basic guards and prepare to spar. Sword master Simon Pitfeild walks up and down the line, correcting a grip here or an angle of attack there. His years of fighting at UC Davis, at the French Academy of Arms, and with the City of Davis fencing program are evident as you watch his precise style and the attention to detail he shows as he leads the team of coaches at Davis Fencing Academy.
Classes accommodate students of all skill levels, ranging from Mini Musketeer lessons for 6- to 8-year-olds to advanced training for adults who want to perfect their techniques or work toward competition. Adult and youth beginners’ classes introduce footwork and blade work for the foil, sabre, and épée, with the option of progressing to intermediate and advanced footwork classes. After lessons, students can engage in open sparring to hone their reflexes and practice monogramming everyone’s uniforms with their own initials.
Kids aged 6 weeks to 6 years choose their own adventure at Portside Montessori. There, classrooms are divided into six sections, which correspond with six areas of learning: practical life, sensorial, language, math, cultural, and creative subjects such as art and music. All the class materials for each area are placed low to the ground where kids can reach them instead of perched up high collecting dust. Kids can easily go from area to area based on their interests at the time, exploring abstract math concepts, reading, or playing music. Teachers stand by to guide children along their journey but are careful to allow them a sense of independence.
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.
Mike Johnson started at Dolphin Scuba Center & Swim School as an entry-level staffer but soon turned his lifelong passion for water into a promising career. Quickly, he became the manager and, at the tender age of 21, the owner of the store—a water-exploration supplier originally founded as a swim school almost 40 years ago.
Today, the PADI five-star facility boasts one of the largest selections of underwater gear in North America, including top brands of scuba, swimming, and snorkeling equipment. Johnson and his team still offer private, one-on-one swimming lessons with certified lifeguard instructors but have branched out into scuba classes. Introductory courses work their way up to professional-level training, all within a pool heated to 92 degrees—the exact temperature of the president’s nightly bath. Students can even test out their newfound skills during scuba-diving trips to the likes of Mexico, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Andy Siebert floated in the water, weightless—almost as if in outer space—and watched as all 40 feet of a Galapagos Island whale shark drifted past him. It’s moments like that one that Andy lives for, having devoted his life to scuba diving. He took his first dive as a teenager, but didn’t take the sport seriously until he turned 42, at which point he began his journey to log more than 3,000 dives.
Now, as owner of Scuba World, Andy works to help others discover their love of the underwater sport. One part retail shop and one part scuba-diving school, the PADI five-star IDC dive center is chock-full of gear for purchase and rental, as well as expert instructors who teach classes for divers of all levels, including instructor-level classes. Their classes range from beginner discovery sessions to open-water-certification courses to rescue-diver classes for the more advanced diver who is worried about all those fish in the ocean who need help getting out. Andy’s wife and partner, Lynn Siebert, plans trips that take divers to waters all over the world, including the nearby Monterey Bay and more far-flung expeditions in Micronesia.
Having struggled with weight problems when she was younger, Healthy Habits Studio owner Rose Zahnn knows the importance of exercise and eating right firsthand. She opened the studio almost 20 years ago, and in that time has seen it grow to hosting more than 25 fitness classes each week.
Fit Body Boot Camp classes each feature a different, unique workout that helps tone and strengthen muscles, burn fat, and boost metabolisms to burn more calories for hours after the workout, not just during it. In addition to group classes, the staff is available for one-on-one sessions that can focus on weight training, Pilates, and yoga. Rose also offers a weight-loss program in which she emails clients once a day with nutrition and exercise suggestions for 10 days, or the time it takes a team of NASA scientists to reengineer your body into its healthiest, most aerodynamic version.