When Katy Cryer asked her friends for help in creating Square One Yoga, she had one important mission: to make yoga accessible to the community through low prices, work-trade scholarships, and an unpretentious ambiance. In an expansive studio with high ceilings, smooth hardwood floors, and a flood of natural light, Katy and a cadre of highly trained instructors hold a weekly schedule of classes and specialty workshops to promote calm and bodily harmony. Covering several disciplines, including prenatal and Vinyasa yoga, the classes offer a deep cleansing of body and spirit without the drenched feeling you get when riding a bicycle through an automatic car wash.
Kevin Allen earned his personal training certification in 1989, but he didn’t stop there. Instead, he layered more expertise and experience onto his resume with every passing year, finally founding Namaste Personal Training to share his wealth of fitness knowledge with as many clients as possible. Now the gym has been named Oakland magazine's best gym in the East Bay in 2012 and 2013, a title Allen and his team of four trainers uphold by addressing patrons’ individual fitness goals in one-on-one personal training sessions, or obliterating bucket loads of calories in group fitness classes. They also tailor introductory fitness courses exclusively to beginners, lowering class size, shortening duration, and eliminating exercises that involve flaming jump ropes.
Jill Dailey McIntosh has always been intrigued by the human body and how it moves—so much so that she graduated in 1991 with a kinesiology degree and soon thereafter decided to open her own Pilates teaching studio. But it wasn't until years later that this curiosity would manifest itself in a single question: "How can one aggressively transform the shape of their body while still maintaining proper alignment of the spine?" Eventually Jill began to examine her diverse fitness background, pulling low-impact movements from ballet, Pilates, and even orthopedic-exercise routines to create the basis for her fitness style, The Dailey Method.
Now, more than a decade later, Dailey's fitness routine has ballooned into studios sprawled across more than 10 states and gained praise from Self, Allure, FitPregnancy, and InStyle magazines. Regardless of the location, instructors remain true to Jill's mission of offering a diverse series of exercises that focus on toning and lengthening the body while lengthening the spine and building strong core muscles.
Tony Carr was something of a renaissance man, simultaneously holding degrees from UCLA and UC Irvine, working on a vaccine for Alzheimer's, and preparing for a sailboat race to Hawaii. His regatta ambitions, however, were unjustly cut short by a debilitating lower-spine injury. Despite this twist of fate, Tony persisted, and took up Bikram yoga at the Bikram Yoga College of India as just the latest endeavor of a man with diverse ambitions. Within one month, his symptoms had been alleviated, and within four months they had almost vanished completely.
Tony had found his new passion, and he immersed himself in it with enough enthusiasm to lose 30 pounds—the average British child's entire net worth—and transform his body in the process. He traveled to India and studied personally with Bikram Choudhury, the father of Bikram yoga. Tony became certified to teach in 1998. Now he leads classes at Bikram Yoga College of India, where he guides students through the 26 postures in the hopes that they, too, can transform their lives.
Flying Yoga owner Laura Camp draws on her experience with contemporary dance, circus aerials, and various yoga modalities to create her studio’s curriculum, incorporating elements from a number of strength disciplines to ease students into a new practice or push seasoned exercisers to the next level. Laura cultivates a noncompetitive, judgment-free atmosphere where guests can feel comfortable trying their hands, arms, and legs at Ashtanga- and Vinyasa-style yoga poses, engaging Zumba dance steps, and muscle-sculpting body-weight exercises while hanging safely from a TRX suspension system.
Throughout each class, instructors encourage pupils to modify techniques or utilize the center's posture-aiding blocks and straps to accommodate physical limitations or injury. Inside the recently renovated and expanded studio, instructors keep students engaged in workout sessions by playing music during class or ratcheting the temperature up to 90 degrees, which helps to purge bodies of toxin-laden perspiration and parasitic ice sculptures.