Since she was a child, Pla Schneider dreamed of writing and illustrating her own children's book. She earned a degree in visual communications and exhibited some of her work in boutiques and galleries, but she couldn't find that spark of inspiration. She was able to find a muse in her daughter, who inspired Pla's first book, Sassy Cassie A True Little Princess. At Sugar-n-Spice Studios, Schneider helps art students circumvent creative blocks by guiding them step-by-step in a fun, playful environment. Patrons dab acrylic paints onto stretched canvases, rendering images of flower-filled parks, technicolor giraffes, or mermaids swimming alongside seahorses and other imaginary animals.
Earthly Juices supports and nurtures health with fresh organic juices, living fare, and detox programs—using many ingredients grown in its own sustainable quarter-acre garden. The juice gurus cold-press fresh nuts, fruits, and vegetables that match the season into juices, smoothies, and cold-brew teas teeming with probiotic cultures. Earthly Juices composts all leftover pulp and serves each of its elixirs in Ball mason jars for $1 per jar, though patrons can bring their own jars or mammoth skulls to avoid the fee.
Patrons can purge environmental toxins or old love-letter residue during comprehensive cleanses, each customized for the individual’s allergies and personal goals and ranging in duration from one weekend to an entire month. Empathic detox counselors remain on-call via Skype, phone, and in person for the duration of each cleanse to troubleshoot as well as fortify minds with motivation. In addition to its culinary and detox endeavors, Earthly Juices supports whole-body and lifestyle health with services from home-garden design to classes on raw foods and international cooking.
Enerji Fitness’s team shares the joy they find in fitness by holding classes every day of the week. The staff unites their diverse backgrounds—from locales as far-flung as New York, Venezuela, and England—to pursue their shared passion for helping others get fit. During yoga sessions, they use gentle warmth (78 degrees) to limber up limbs for power Vinyasa flows that strengthen body, mind, spirit, and the building’s foundation. The barre classes fuse ballet-inspired cardio barre workouts with core work and lightweight toning, and instructors get their students kickboxing, doing plyometrics, and thumping heavy bags during Enerji Knockout classes. The global party beats played during Zumba classes animate bodies, as the staff teaches Latin-inspired dance moves in a fun setting. Enerji Fitness’s sleek, modern studio’s hardwood floors, brick accent walls, and creamy, mocha-tinged colors set a stylishly serene stage for this abundance of exercise.
MyGym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 months and skewing up to 3 years and 3 months—and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions—a class for kids aged 6 to 9—emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. MyGym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
No matter the time of year, the workout room at Center Yoga Studio stays the same temperature: 85 degrees. The studio’s power yoga classes would make students sweat even with the air conditioner cranked up, but the added heat helps muscles stay loose as they bend and twist through a series of strengthening poses. Unlike the temperature, the classes themselves are anything but predictable. The exact poses vary from day to day as instructors explore new creative pathways to keep their students on their toes—sometimes literally. Those in search of even more variation will likely find it in the studio’s Yoga Sculpt class. A variation of power yoga, Yoga Sculpt builds strength with light dumbbell weights and uses fun, upbeat music to help students synchronize their heart rates with the instructor’s.
Tal Dvir's mother first noticed his artistic talent when he was 3 years old. Recognizing that he was no mere finger painter, she nurtured his talent, helping a teenaged Tal to complete a course of study at the prestigious Witzo Art School in Tel Aviv. Tal's life experiences have strengthened his love of deep contrasts, granting him "self-awareness [and] truer sense of [his] own complexities," which flow through his brush and onto the canvas.
Tal continued his studies at Meimad Visual Art School before going on to paint cities, landscapes, and dioramas of cities made from lawn clippings. His style, which melds contemporary realism and impressionism, draws inspiration from the likes of Velasquez, Degas, and Sargent. Today, Tal shares his artistic knowledge with both adults and children through private classes and workshops at the Irvine Art League.
Century Dancesport's attuned instructors spin and twirl through a nearly 6,000-square-foot studio, guiding the limbs of beginning dancers and ballroom ambassadors alike in both social and competitive choreography. A diverse schedule of group classes entices beat-keeping feet to hone their rug-cutting capabilities with a choice of classes that can emphasize the elegance of the waltz, the fervency of salsa, or the practicality of the sprinkler. During dancing instruction, teachers fine tune their pupils' leading and following techniques and encourage students to practice with a variety of partners.
Yoga, massage, energy therapy, and a whimsical store share a space at Soul at Home. Expert instructors lead centering and strengthening yoga classes. The day spa relaxes guests with massages and skincare treatments, and the energy therapy aims to unblock the energy meridians of the body with methods such as acupuncture, reiki, and Quantum-Touch. Soul at Home also includes a serene boutique, which sells clothing, body products, and home accents, among other merchandise.
An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.
OC Dance Studio views dance through dual lenses, both as a path to fitness and a catalyst for mingling. Body barre—a class focused on stretching and toning—sculpts svelte limbs and cores, and cardio dance lessons set to high-octane Latin and techno beats aid weight loss as a personal trainer bolsters calorie burning with personalized workout advice. Alternatively, students can explore movement’s interactive side through social dance classes and studio events, where people can mingle and practice moves such as The Worm or the more social Three Braided Worms.
OC Dance Studio’s panoply of children’s classes complement their adult offerings, building poise and self-confidence in youths aged 3¬–12. Classes span modalities such as hip-hop, tap, and flamenco. During regular dance recitals, students showcase their new skills for friends, family, and talent scouts for So You Think You Can Dance Before You Can Vote. The studio’s shoe showroom outfits dancers of all ages for courses, stocking kicks handpicked by the staff for niche styles such as Latin and ballroom dance.
In a spacious facility, Back4more’s staff helps clients ease back pain with its four-step program. BackFlex traction tables heat backs via far infrared rays while massaging acupressure points to relieve tightness in the lower back and shoulders, and doses of alkaline water help to balance pH levels. Clients not only receive treatment at Back4more but can also get physical in preventative back-care yoga classes. In a studio with natural-light illuminated hardwood floors, instructors guide students through Pa Kua yoga classes, which can boost energy, harmonize body and mind, and relieve stress. Before leaving the all-inclusive facility, clients can order from an array of home comfort products, including Inada chairs and mattresses. In addition to English, the bilingual staff also speaks Spanish.
Massage therapists often help only the individuals they treat, but Carol Carpenter had a broader vision than that. She copied the notes she took when studying massage therapy and opened her own school in Oakland, elucidating Eastern styles, Western styles, and kinesiology alike. Eventually, the school was supplied federal financial aid through the U.S. Department of Education and became one of the first accredited massage schools in California. Today, it spans seven campuses and has garnered a mention in the book The History of Massage.
The school aims to prepare students for careers they’ll love, and the program boasts an 88% job-placement rate. The curriculum demands that students complete a 900-hour program, which includes anatomy study and hands-on practice with real clients.
The instructors at Haleh Art Studio can turn a blank canvas into a work of art. They regard each new student with the same sense of limitless possibility, realizing that the right instruction and motivation can help turn anyone into a skilled artist. During drawing and painting classes, with special expertise in acrylics, instructors nurture artistic talents with structured lessons that slowly build technique and confidence. The difficulty of the work increases over time, until students can create their own photo-realistic self-portraits to replace lost driver’s licenses.
More than a thousand years have passed since healers learned that illnesses could be cured through stimulation of certain body parts. A wide array of frameworks developed for how best that healing should be brought about. Licensed acupuncturist Winston Wang has taken components of these frameworks to craft his own: understand the patient's condition, set up a treatment plan, and test it. At Orange Acupuncture, clients can seek Winston's techniques to treat maladies ranging from depression and insomnia to seasonal allergies.
If there's one thing Joyce Wang has mastered in her 15-year career as a private music instructor, it's keeping beginners entertained as they learn the basics. Regardless of his or her experience level, Joyce arms each student with the proper books and tools—metronomes, piano-key neckties for at-home practice—as they learn piano-playing technique and how to interpret classical music, jazz, or pop. She also teaches music theory and prepares her students for the Certificate of Merit exam, a nationally recognized test that verifies a child's participation in a music-based extracurricular program for review by colleges.