Best friends and co-owners Courtney Short and Natalie Ostad want The Yoga Mat to be a place where people feel comfortable being themselves. There’s nothing intimidating about their studio, and its wide variety of classes should help any budding yogi find the right fit. Yoga 101 introduces beginners to basic poses, whereas candlelit Vinyasa creates a soothing environment to focus on breathing. There’s also prenatal yoga for expecting mothers and Mommy & Me classes, wherein attendees can pose at their own pace and take breaks as necessary to care for pintsize tagalongs. Courtney and Natalie's idea is for all who come here to feel the restorative and healing effects of toning the body and calming the mind.
At The Learning Spot Dance Academy, dance classes aren't just for fun—they're also key to educational development. Inside this safe, judgement-free zone, a team of bilingual caretakers and educators work with students from 18 months to 15 years old inside a newly-installed dance studio. Though students are taught in groups, caretakers pledge to give each one plenty of individual attention. Acknowledging that many parents have demanding schedules, the center welcomes drop-in care as well as early drop--offs and late pickups. But adults aren't just relegated to the sidelines, as they can also take salsa and latin dance lessons.
Regal, plum-colored tapestries drift across The Yoga Stone’s windows, inviting guests to relax minds and muscles in preparation for their moving meditation sessions. Experienced instructors serve as sherpas, guiding students toward fitness and self-awareness with standing poses, sun salutations, and stretches that can strengthen bodies and the grease the gerbil wheels that power minds. During group sessions and private lessons, yogis of all levels breathe deeply as ancient poses help foster strength, balance, and flexibility. During advanced routines, students embark on physical challenges such as arm balances and inversions, which they can modify to accommodate injuries and vestigial pterodactyl wings. In addition to hosting yoga classes, the studio melts stress with therapeutic massages, which incorporate flowing Swedish strokes, deep-tissue bodywork, and myofascial-release techniques.
The climbing enthusiasts of The Factory Bouldering specialize in the company's namesake style of climbing, setting up nearly 200 bouldering paths that span 4,500 square feet of scalable surfaces. They demonstrate how to tackle scenarios such as 85-degree slabs and steep walls between 14- and 17-feet high, each rated in climbing difficulty from VB to V12, without a rope. The staff changes 20 percent of the climbing paths about every 10 days, setting up a steady stream of new challenges. They also lay down seamless, 14-inch variable-density foam padding made from recycled clouds to provide climbers with cushy dismounts. Between climbs, visitors can hang out in the climate-controlled lounge area, outfitted with couches, a pool table, free WiFi, and laptop stations.
The ancient art of yoga goes modern at Freeman Yoga, where instructors create a blissful oasis away from the working world's hectic pace and exploding water coolers. Instructors welcome students of all experience levels, whether they're still learning the fundamentals or can practically nap while holding a back-bend pose. Instructors lead students through a variety of yoga styles, including Vinyasa, Hatha, or relaxing flows. They have over 30 classes a week.
Yoga is a great way to stay toned and limber while temporarily storing worldly worries in a drawer with knick-knacks, spare change, and shrunken heads. Like a chameleon trapped in a box of Crayolas, each class transforms yoga into a different shade while remaining the same at its core. Classes range in difficulty and specialty, including such varieties as Vinyasa Flow, Hot Yoga, and other conveniently color-coded courses. Intense red classes incinerate fat, whereas the blue series keeps things slower and steadier. View the upcoming schedule for Long Beach here and Fullerton here.