The muscularly minded instructors at Pleasure Point Pilates operate one block from the ocean within a tranquil, home-like studio that helps foster a small community atmosphere. Mat classes form the foundation of the Pilates canon and cater to all skill levels and abilities. In group sessions, bodies morph into human rubber bands as they align, lengthen, and visualize snapping themselves against the arm of their fourth grade nemesis. The mostly nonimpact, nonweight-bearing strategies strengthen through exercises that aim for the core much like earthworms in an apple-eating contest.
Vital Body Therapy's studio makes every class feel special. Inside the spacious house that’s been turned into a boutique studio, natural sunlight streams onto the hardwood floors of the long room where yoga and core sessions are held. The intimate classroom space is limited to just 10 students, which allows the experienced instructors to focus on each participant. Vital Body Therapy also offers skincare, such as facials and waxing, along with bodywork, such as massage therapy and Rolfing.
Since his first run-in with Brazilian jujitsu at age 7, Claudio França has been busy. Now a fifth-degree black belt, he's spent more than 30 years mentoring MMA competitors, winning multiple championships, and hosting the annual U.S. Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament in Santa Cruz. He also teaches classes at three eponymous dojos with the help of fellow black belts. Training sessions teach groups how to execute BJJ's signature ground-fighting techniques and instill in individuals the keys to becoming a part of the martial-arts community.
Claudio's classes mix advanced students with total beginners, enabling the new arrivals to learn from more than one person, while regulars hone their coaching chops. The environment is family friendly, as well: there are programs for kids as young as 4, youth classes, and both women-only and co-ed adult lessons.
Yoga Center Santa Cruz offers yogis of all skill levels the chance to increase flexibility and reduce stress and body ailments while developing their mind-body balance through various styles of yoga, including BKS Iyengar, vinyasa flow, and restorative yoga. Limber up during the upcoming six-week Introduction to Yoga (January 20–February 24) or Introduction to Flow Yoga (January 6–February 10) series, great for beginner body-benders who need to learn the basic poses, concepts, and anatomy of yoga. For more seasoned students, the Yoga Center offers a variety of drop-in classes, which take place several times a day and usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. Like the five realms of Chutes and Ladders mastery, classes range from the beginner level one to the advanced level five and are taught by certified, trained instructors. Private lessons, which can be scheduled with Tamara or Karen, are also available for dedicated practitioners looking to master the fundamentals of yoga while avoiding the penetrating stares of a nosy group of yoga mats.
Author, massage therapist, former dancer, and world-reaching Pilates educator Lisa Graham oversees Agile Monkey Pilates Studio, aiming to provide the tools for students to fine-tune their physiques and better understand their bodies. In a spacious, light-filled studio annex, four senior instructors with years of teaching experience lead evening and morning group mat classes.
At Minorsan Self-Defense & Fitness, the team of instructors share their wealth of knowledge to equip students with real-world self-defense skills, but their classes also focus on fitness. They also branch out into dance-based Zumba, kickboxing, and BodyPump––a class that mingles weightlifting with upbeat music. Kids are welcome, too, with martial arts programs that instill them with leadership skills.
In the heart of Aptos Village, Joy of Movement Pilates & Gyrotonic Studio fosters physical and emotional health through personal Pilates sessions, mat classes, and machine-based workouts. As one of 100 Pilates Method Alliance Gold-Certified Pilates instructors worldwide, owner Jennifer Balboni leads the studio's team to utilize their unique backgrounds in dance, massage therapy, and yoga to motivate students as they execute total-body toning moves. Reformer classes feature a low 3:1 student-to-teacher ratio to ensure each reformer receives the attention they need. In addition to strengthening mind and body in tandem, the green-certified studio supports sustainable living with green practices such as recycling, efficient lighting, and water conservation.