Although it takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival actually exists at the nexus of thousands of years of Anatolian history. That's the way it feels, at least. Upon arrival, guests begin this trek through time at the Gates of Civilizations, whose waypoints honor 14 historic and present-day nations ranging from the mighty Hittite Empire to the modern Turkish Republic. Towering, ornate arches and a staff of highly knowledgeable costumed actors guide them through this journey, sharing the traditional dress and customs of bygone regional residents including the Ottomans, Romans, Phrygians, and Byzantines.
Once inside, guests can extend their explorations within stunning recreations of nine different Anatolian cities, grabbing lifelike views of everything from the Topkapi Palace—once occupied by Ottoman sultans—or the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the ancient seat of the Armenian Orthodox patriarch. Along the way, they can stop for souvenirs at the bustling Grand Bazaar, where more than 100 vendor hawk traditional Near Eastern good. A traditional Turkish coffeehouse also occupies part of the festival grounds, tempting guests with cups of rich Turkish coffee that par well with the kebabs, stews, and baked goods prepared by the festival’s food vendors.
The trainers behind Meraki Barre don't just want to help their clients get in shape. They want to make the world an all-around healthier place by leading dynamic fitness classes in a 900-square-foot studio space built with eco-conscious, exercise-encouraging decor from the ground up. Padded and sustainable bamboo floors cushion exercisers during workouts, and energy-efficient LED lights keep the studios bright. Along the walls, 80 feet of ballet barres provide stability, and a 14-foot, multimount TRX installation allows for group classes using the suspension-training equipment.
Seven days a week, the staffers lead total-body training sessions that enhance classic fitness methods such as yoga and barre training with the incorporation of free weights and other strength-developing circuits. Their specialty Pound classes draw on musical inspirations that transform the motions of playing the drums into a series of core, leg, and upper-body conditioning moves. Students wield weighted drumsticks called Ripstix to echo the rhythms of the Poundtrack, a playlist of everything from rock to dubstep broadcast over the professional-grade audio system. As the music plays, the color-controllable LED lights cast club-like hues around the studio to help students get lost in the music or pretend to be a rainbow.
Studio founder Patrice Simon established the Bikram Yoga College of India "to nourish the soul as well as the body," a mission reflected in the studio's noncompetitive environment, highly trained instructors, and deliberately designed practice space. Each of the studio's certified instructors studied Bikram at the feet of the style's eponymous guru Bikram Choudhury, where they learned to master the athletic Bikram style, and to shepherd students of all skill levels through Bikram's 90-minute, unchanging 26-pose regimen. During each of the seated, lying, and standing poses, instructors assist students by supplying modifications to accommodate inexperience, injury, and pregnancy. Every posture methodically pushes oxygen-rich blood throughout the entire body, encouraging healthy organ function and building muscle tone. A pair of mindful breathing exercises helps students maintain focus amid the practice space's sultry temperatures of up to 105 degrees, a sweat-inducing environment that allows attendees to safely push each stretch further while perspiring away any toxins that fail the body's citizenship test.
Guided by a mission of embracing every student's quest for personal growth, the team at YogaWorks offers programs for all ages and walks of life. Harnessing a minimum of 500 hours of Yoga Alliance training, expert instructors build lean muscles with traditional Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa flow classes enhanced by inspiring music, ambient candlelight, meditation, and props. Their fitness classes further the body-shaping results of yoga, strengthening core muscles with Pilates, increasing endurance and lean muscles with TRX classes, and building stamina with resistance-based SculptWorks.
Instructors also host exotic yoga retreats, which marry the excitement of travel to far-away locales with the benefits of yoga to bestow students with the confident grace required to approach a foreign yoga mat without startling it. Those in search of further training can access online videos by subscribing to myyogaworks.com, which offers a free, 14-day trial for new users. Students can search for videos by workout duration, skill level, and the targeted area of the body.
When Sheila Kelley broke into the fitness scene, fitness pole-dancing classes were unheard of. However, in just a few years, the S Factor—her unique fusion of yoga, ballet, Pilates, and striptease—became renowned for its physical benefits and confidence-boosting ability. Due to this focus on both mind and body, the S Factor garnered widespread acclaim, with endorsements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Martha Stewart. The workout's mission is clear: engendering female empowerment, confidence, and respect through sultry pole dancing. The S Factor's healthful impact on its students' bodies can be attributed to its combination of diverse workout methods, all of which build lean muscle mass. The course's six levels build on one another, relying on stretches, pole work, and traditional dance to get students twirling around the pole safely regardless of their athletic experience.
Filled with radiant heat and eco-friendly furnishings, Ra Yoga's quartet of practice spaces emanates warmth, calm, and a pervasive sense of well-being. Here, a team of instructors leads more than a dozen classes designed to strengthen the body and center the mind. They offer a range of different yoga styles—including restorative Yin, flow-centric Vinyasa, and more rigorous hot yoga flow—with and without added heat meant to foster detoxification and keep out nosey penguins. They also helm Little Ra-Scals classes to help youngsters aged 4 to 13 cultivate concentration, motor skills, and a lifelong love of whimsy during an hour of playful poses.
To melt any remaining stress after class, students may unwind in the studio's showers or socialize in its cozy lounge. Parents may also leave kids aged 6 months to 9 years in the care of an experienced babysitter during most of the studio's midmorning classes.