Seven ways to energize your exercise around the Peninsula
If you’re like us, you give yourself a pat on the back just for making it to the gym. What you do once you’re actually there is a whole other monster. We’ve all felt our once spirited gym routine start to feel like… well, a routine, which is really no fun at all.
Bored of barbells and bench presses? Seeking refuge from sweaty gym equipment and that one token gym bro grunting like a gorilla so the entire weight room takes note of how much he’s lifting? Fear not, there are several Silicon Valley sanctums to ease the weight of exercising from your mind.
Craving a dose of adrenaline with your workout? For cragsters and pebble wrestlers in the rock-climbing community, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as dangling from a steeply slanted ledge, 50 feet up.
Of its four Bay Area locations, Planet Granite’s Sunnyvale gym is the largest. Traverse a total of 28,000 square feet of climbing space at the expansive facility featuring state-of-the-art hand-carved walls reaching as high as 60 feet. Beyond classic climbing routes, you’ll discover bouldering options (sections that safely empower thrill seekers to scale rope- and harness-free).
You might associate rock climbing with muscle gain, but it also boosts endurance and flexibility. And the benefits transcend the physical — analyzing the angles and sizes of the holds to successfully advance along your route builds problem-solving skills. To keep members on their toes (and fingers), staff invent new routes every few weeks. Think of it as navigating a series of vertical mazes.
Planet Granite—Sunnyvale // 815 Stewart Dr, Sunnyvale; 408.991.9090
Planet Granite—Belmont // 100 El Camino Real, Belmont; 650.591.3030
Hear us out — we’re aware you may be familiar with parkour only from its optics as the comedic focus of a notorious episode of The Office, but it can be a legitimate and engaging way to expend some energy. Parkour is the discipline of maneuvering through complex environments creatively, quickly and efficiently. Unlike gymnastics, it’s much more topography-based — meaning you’ll never look at that hand railing or brick wall on your walk around downtown the same way again.
With the intention of empowering tricksters to express themselves, the Academy of Movement gym offers a rich terrain loaded with lofty walls and arched ramps, mats and planks, blocks and bars. Its dauntless trainers will have you vaulting, rolling, scaling and springing over and around these obstacles your very first session. So take advantage of their $10 trial class. We guarantee it’s the closest you’ll ever come to looking and feeling like a cinematic action hero.
Sessions Academy of Movement // 2016 Senter Rd, San Jose; 408.857.9799
There are many kinds of yoga that can enhance flexibility, balance, circulation, core muscles, mental wellness and concentration. But as the weather warms, avoid boxing yourself inside a building’s four walls and instead choose nature as your backdrop with standup paddle board yoga lessons at Shoreline Lake. The warmth of the sun against your skin and the soothing sounds of the lake lapping against your board is truly food for the soul. And of course, what better incentive for focusing on distribution of weight and the proper technique of each move than the possibility of taking an unplanned plunge into cold water?
Shoreline runs classes at the beginner and intermediate levels from January through November. All participants are welcome, though yogis must be able to swim unattended and be able to pull themselves out of the water back up onto the paddle board (look, we’re not saying you’re gonna fall in, but — you’re gonna fall in). Previous yoga experience is recommended, though not required.
Shoreline Lake // 3160 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View
Perhaps you’re seeking a kind of exercise that boosts your sense of empowerment and sensuality to Beyoncé-esque status. Or maybe you’ve been seeking an acrobatic outlet ever since witnessing that breathtaking Cirque du Soleil performance. Whatever the case, recreational pole dancing at the Inspiration Studios will instruct you in the graceful art of twisting and twirling midair.
As you push your limits with a repertoire of tricks, transitions, floor work and choreography, you’ll discover the body capable of more than you realized. “It’s yoga, Pilates, TRX and Physique 57 all wrapped into one,” personal trainer and pole expert Tracy Traskos explains of this form of expression.
But if you prefer to achieve gravity-defying maneuvers without a pole, Inspiration Studios provides other methods for moving midair. Learn to utilize the lyra (by spinning and posing on a large suspended metal hoop), static trapeze (by hanging, swinging and rolling from a trapeze bar), or aerial silk (by climbing, wrapping, dropping and spiraling between two long strips of fabric).
Inspiration Studios // 2682 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City
Welcome to the paint-splattered war zone of Santa Clara Paintball, its barricades stained by many a colorful battle waged and won. Strap on a chest protector, pull down your paintball mask and take to the field to join the ranks of renegades.
As you pelt opponents across its facilities, you’ll discover a number of themed zones. These range from areas with castle-like walls, inflatable bunkers, tall box crates and even a junkyard with an abandoned car, pipes and hulking monster-truck tires.
In addition, the facility provides referees who not only oversee the action but orchestrate competitions with specific objectives, such as capturing the flag, rescuing hostages and other scenarios. That means that besides getting in some great cardio, you’ll also flex your team-building muscles.
A word of advice: dress strategically, not stylishly. Layering will soften the impact of technicolor attacks. “Don’t [be] like me going with the cute gym clothes for the selfie and then suffering the balls one after another,” one Yelp reviewer warns.
Santa Clara Paintball // 2542 Monterey Rd, San Jose; 408.288.6855
It’s time to dust off that hula hoop you long ago stuffed into some cobwebby corner of the garage. Recently, adults have started taking back the plastic ring of the ’50s, giving it a fascinating twist of new complexity. Rather than statically twirling these hoops around your middle, they can be activated through moves involving your entire body: arms and legs as well as core.
Instructor Nessia Starr is passionately and fully immersed in this form of recreation, even crafting and selling hoops with her husband. Beyond burning calories and quickening reflexes, her classes impart mental benefits. Participants find it both meditative (a way of grounding and centering the self) as well as restorative of free-spirited, childlike joy.
Dedicated hoopers will inform you that their preferred pastime is also an art form. Like staff spinning, juggling and poi fire dancing, it falls under the umbrella of Flow Arts (movement-based disciplines that integrate dance, other creative movement and prop manipulation).
Channel your inner Robin Hood (or Hawkeye or Legolas or Katniss) with a visit to San Francisco Archers. A day on the range ($5 for adults, free for kids 13 and younger) will have you striking bull’s-eyes in no time.
On arrival, cross the footbridge and warm up on the practice range before progressing to more advanced challenges. These include the 50- to 70-yard targets of the Alley; the field, hunter and animal targets of the White and Red Ranges; and the flat 100-yard targets of the Blue Range. If you really want to hone your prowess and shooting technique, sign up for the Adult Archery Achievement (AAA) program with instructors who tailor lessons to suit your recreational or competitive goals.
Unlike indoor ranges, the surrounding trees and wildlife serve as reminders that archery used to be a crucial survival method of hunters of centuries past. Travel further back in time with the annual One Million BC Shoot, a two-day event the first weekend in August with dimensional prehistoric dinosaurs as targets. It’s the ideal preparation in case you ever find yourself caught up in a Jurassic Park-like scenario.
SF Archers // Lundy Way & Rifle Range Rd, Pacifica; 650.355.9947
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