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 Anaheim CrossFit West, co-owners Stephanie and Al Amato lead small groups through the ever-changing and intense workout of the day. The workouts—which are designed for all fitness levels, including Little Mario, Bigger Mario, and Fire Mario—require exercisers to complete a daily sequence of functional exercises such as squatting, deadlifting, rowing, and jumping with purpose. To help replenish exercisers' bodies following the grueling sessions, Stephanie, whose nickname is Primal Mama and whose background includes nutrition counseling, posts protein-packed recipes on her blog.
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. As the art of breathing is a crucial aspect to yoga, Freeman Yoga's air purifiers ensure that every breath students take in the environmentally conscious studio is clean.
Fullerton Dancesport Center owner Stuart Cole has made a career out of dancing with style. His long list of achievements and gigs include Scottish amateur ten-dance champion, US National Team representative to the World Championships, and film dancer in Dance with Me and Heaven’s Gate. So it is with this illustrious background that Stuart works with his team of instructors to bring their personal flair to dance lessons for students of all skill levels.
Whether in social groups or private sessions, students can dance seven days a week with a schedule of classes that range from the Latin-inspired salsa and cha cha to the more homegrown country line dancing and West Coast Swing. Wedding dance lessons help bride and groom glide across the floor or bowling lane during their first dance, while youth classes for dancers ages four and up impart basic ballroom and Latin dance techniques along with rhythm and posture. For a more sweat-inducing workout, Zumba fitness classes blend the dance styles taught in Latin lessons with energetic music.
At CrossFit Structured, it doesn’t matter where you finish as long as you finish with integrity. Trainers adopt this philosophy during each class, which covers a new workout of the day, or WOD, every day. WODs involve constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensities to help burn calories and fat and boost the body’s metabolism. Though exercises often vary, it’s not uncommon to see CrossFit Structured’s warriors performing weight lifts, running, or testing their body’s limits with exercises such as squats, pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.
Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.
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.