With rolling hills and lush, green woods in the background, expert instructors lead students out into the great blue Pacific for custom surfing lessons. During lessons, wave tamers certified in CPR, first aid, ocean safety, and mermaid diplomacy bestow burgeoning surfers with all necessary skills and ocean awareness, which helps surfers to keep their bearings and tackle whitecaps safely. Surf techniques and etiquette can be tailored to ease rookies into their comfort zones or amped up to challenge and heighten the skills of more experienced boarders.
Tamalpais Surf Club also rents boards and wetsuits for surfers looking to paddle out on their own, and their lending inventory includes vintage boards from renowned shapers. To throw more adventure into the mix, the team organizes yoga-surf retreats and surf camps in exotic locales such as Costa Rica and Hawaii, where groups can immerse themselves in the country's culture, cuisine, and bilingual waves.
The echoes of hooves clopping against loose dirt carry across California Riding Academy’s expansive training arena, where founder and director Jessica Harrell can often be found jumping warmblood ponies over fences or leading lessons in various riding styles. Jessica helms a staff of experienced instructors and trainers who all specialize in one area, technique, or style of horse-riding; students can team up with resident cowgirl Joanne Morrison for lessons in the Western riding style or trot alongside silver medalist Teri Dosen and her dutch warmblood during dressage lessons. Though their combined experience adds up to more than 100 years, the instructors would be nowhere without their stable of well-trained horses and ponies, who carry themselves with poise and dignity through competitions, summer camps, and stagecoach robberies.
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.
Having shot more than 30,000 subjects throughout his career as a photographer, including many Silicon Valley business figures, Eric Gould understands how to create a good photo in any setting. His adeptness at communicating with subjects carries into his photography workshops, where he conveys difficult concepts clearly and methodically, saving students from such rookie mistakes as shooting with the lens cap on or turning the flash on while taking pictures of your imaginary friend's third grade graduation. In his own photo sessions, he frames professional clients in business portraits and headshots, high-school seniors in youthful poses, athletes in midaction, and a wide spectrum of people and places encountered on international travels.
Craig Fruchter and Stephanie Schreiber, a husband-and-wife duo, team up with an impassioned troupe of instructors to lead students toward mental and physical health through a lineup of Bikram and power-yoga classes. Their dual locations swirl with balmy temperatures to loosen tight ligaments and help students ease deeper into the tension-relieving stretches. The warm air pricks beads of sweat on shoulders and brows while flushing out toxins and the spleen's discarded Funyun bags. With an eye on preserving the environment, both studios are scrubbed with nontoxic cleaning products each day and feature textured rubber floors and fresh-air ventilation systems. Marin Magazine in 2010 named Red Dragon one of the best yoga studios in Marin, and Pacific Sun named the business the best Marin yoga studio in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
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.