Joanna Cotta Leadbetter spent more than a decade as a ballerina, wowing audiences with feats of graceful athleticism. Now, as the founder and lead trainer at The Sculpt Barre, Leadbetter blends this passion for dance with fitness—drawing from different disciplines to create intense, low-impact workouts. Leadbetter and her instructors lead small groups through different intervals at the ballet barre, which allows exercisers to use their own body weight for resistance. Combined with stretches, these barre exercises promise numerous benefits, including increased strength, better posture, and enough flexibility to finally fit inside a piece of carry-on luggage.
Founded with the goal of bringing the community together through social events that promote physical fitness, Spearman Clubs keeps its members active via a host of well-maintained athletic amenities and all-ages activities. Each of the three clubs features outdoor pools brimming with salt-filtered water free of chlorine or river rafts, as well as sauna and steam rooms for post-swim sessions. The sleek, palm-tree-laden clubs also boast tennis courts?all equipped with hitting walls and ball machines?upon which players of all experience levels can practice their backhand during lessons and programs helmed by seasoned pros.
The Laguna Niguel Racquet Club bustles with activity as members shape up in Pilates classes or stave off hunger pangs at the Top Spin Bar & Grill. Personal trainers help visitors at the Tennis Club at Monarch Beach cloak their muscles in iron, and an onsite spa sends weary bodies into fits of unfettered relaxation. Skilled muscle manipulators erase aches from tense backs at the Racquet Club of Irvine, where therapeutic massage services serve as a soothing conclusion to a day spent splashing about the pool and hitting the courts.
Business partners and firm believers in the power of Pilates, Pliates Plus OC founders Amy Briant and Vanessa Malchev lead a team of strong and experienced instructors that share their passion for not just fitness, but visible results. During 50-minute workouts, elements of traditional Pilates on a Megareformer are mixed with heart-pumping exercises designed to maximize core strength while toning and slimming the physique. Clearly, it's working: Pliates Plus OC has been voted 'Best Pilates Studio in OC' three years running by readers of the Orange County Hot List.
Just as the thermostat inside Beyond Hot Yoga’s studio fluctuates between 75 and 105 degrees, the classes themselves include a wide range of poses tailored to various levels of experience. Calories and inhibitions melt away with each successive pose in Bikram- and Vinyasa-style yoga classes that put students in touch with their bodies through continuous stretching. Aerobics offerings such as Zumba and boot camps suit different fitness tastes, favoring energetic movements instead of meditative poses.
Though the studio hosts a diverse slate of lessons, an undercurrent of camaraderie remains a constant. Instructors emphasize serenity and fellowship both inside and outside classes, making it easier to achieve inner peace by hosting rambunctious youngsters in a childcare room and holding donation-based sessions whose proceeds benefit South African orphanages.
Guests can also harness a sense of inner calm through the studio's various wellness treatments. Skincare services, massages, and custom nutritional tips refresh physiques, and a stop in the women-only steam room can help detoxify the body and shrink oversize yoga mats.
Like a blacksmith at the anvil, the trainers at Extreme Pilates temper cores against the Reformer. Over the course of one hour, students leverage their own body weight on a system of ropes and pulleys to sculpt bodies with long, lean muscles. The workouts target abs to help students improve posture, straighten alignment, and protect their delicate caramel centers. After sweat sessions, patrons may take advantage of the spa-like facilities, which include showers and a steam room. An onsite nutritionist and massage therapist further foster relaxation and wellness, and the daycare staff preserves parents' sanity.
For more than a decade, physical therapist Amy Fischer helped clients recover from a range of orthopedic and sport injuries. These days, she blends her knowledge of the body with her passion for Pilates at her two Pure Pilates studios—one in Laguna Niguel and the other in Ladera Ranch—each of which host regular classes alongside specialized sessions for golfers, breast cancer survivors, and moms-to-be.
Surrounded by tranquil Asian-inspired décor, Amy and her team of instructors guide students of all levels through private and group Pilates classes, which aim to strengthen core muscles while improving flexibility and posture. After being divvied up into Level 1 or Level 2–3 sections, students learn a variety of exercises on a reformer machine built from adjustable ropes, pulleys, and springboards reclaimed from the days of vaudeville. Amy and her team also offer slower-paced courses for seniors as well as physical therapy sessions that speed healing with modified Pilates exercises paired with a personalized at-home exercise program.