Prior to opening her personal fitness studio, Sara Ellis was a World Cup-class mountain-bike racer competing for the award-winning Volvo-Cannondale team. As her racing days were coming to a close, she began coaching others on biking techniques, strength training, and physical conditioning—and fell in love. Personal training quickly became her new passion, whether she was working with elite athletes or individuals inspired to improve their health.
Ultimate Fitness specializes in slow-motion strength training and other customized training programs. In keeping with her background, Sara also leads terrain-based indoor spinning classes that test participants' limits, whether in the area of exertion or in the number of towels they have to use in a session.
Every month, the staff at Body Kinetics selects a member to honor. They summarize this member's workout program and results on a Member of the Month announcement, which describes the challenges that he or she has faced and includes notes from trainers. It also serves as a recurring reminder of the gyms' communal, encouraging approach to wellness.
This supportive vibe permeates all aspects of both Body Kinetics' clubs, from the dance-fueled Booty Beat routines in Novato to the outdoor cycling sessions at Mill Valley. In addition to yoga, Pilates, and body-sculpting fitness classes, each gym also hosts small-group and private training workouts. They complement their strength and cardio regimens with other wellness services, such as massage and nutrition consultations.
Frequently named Best Pilates Studio by the Pacific Sun, Fit First Pilates stretches and conditions frames in a variety of creative Pilates classes. Certified instructors lead small groups of no more than four humans through tailored regimens such as Pre-Ski Pilates, which preps snowsurfers for long days leaping over moguls, and Equestrian Pilates, which strengthens the muscles used most often in outrunning thoroughbreds. Disco-lates infuses workouts with groovy tunes, while Kettl-ates adds Russian kettlebell training into the exercise mix. Newly minted mothers can shed pregnancy pounds and tone their rocking arms during the Mommyilates sessions. Students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome, and Fit First happily adapts workouts to suit the goals and capabilities of their clients. Check out the schedule for dates, times, instructors, and available classes.
Each member of Bridgeway Gym’s diverse team of certified trainers taps into his or her own unique specialty to develop workout plans tailored to clients’ particular needs and goals. Gary's experience with rehab patients, seniors, and gym newbies helps him put his patrons at ease, whereas Mark's focus on varied intervals yields intense TRX routines and strength-training circuits. Alternatively, Shiloh aims her sights on weight loss and proper nutrition, as well as prepping athletes to run marathons.
The gym's amenities outside of customized personal training include machines from Cybex, Hammer Strength, and Nautilus, as well as a wide array of free weights and cardio gear. During group classes, instructors demonstrate Zumba spins, yoga poses, and the spicy steps of Brazilian dance. Meditative lessons in the form of Qi Gong strengthen mind-body connection, whereas Pilates and body align courses stress the value of healthy posture and balance. After classes, the on-site steam room or sauna takes center stage, allowing clients to unwind or finally nail Richard Nixon impersonations.
Arjay Parker came to yoga as a result of an intervention to help her deal with stress in the workplace; Jefferson Parker started while seeking a way to heal his body from a crippling injury. In the practice of Bikram and Power yoga, they not only found what they were looking for, but they also found each other. Soon teamed as husband and wife, the duo decided to open a dual yoga studio of their own. The newly christened Bikram Yoga San Rafael & Power Yoga San Rafael would boast two classrooms, each completely dedicated to one yogic form.
Today, the Parkers enlist the aid of other talented instructors they've met throughout the years to bend bodies with both kinds of yoga seven days a week. Their dedication has earned them Pacific Sun magazine’s Best Yoga Studio award for five years running and part of Pacific's Hall of Fame for three consecutive years, as well as countless high-fives from their appreciative students.
At Mind Full Pilates, instructors follow Stephen Gavin's method of practice. Atop Reformers, students perform a high-intensity, 55-minute series of moves that challenge every major muscle group. The workout incorporates cardio and strength exercises that boost stability and range of motion so that it's easier to do backflips on a tightrope.