In 2003, the teaching staffs behind the Butler-Fearon and the O?Connor-Kennedy Schools realized something: though both academies nurtured the physical, mental, and competitive skills of scores of young Irish dancers, they could form a more robust program by combining forces. Once united, the team of Rose Fearon, Vincent O?Connor, and Kathleen O?Connor?each a certified Irish dance adjudicator?implemented a revised curriculum reaching students from both American coasts to the solid-ice skyscrapers of Ontario. Today, Butler-Fearon-O'Connor trains everyone from girls buckling their jig shoes for the first time to experienced adults, many of whom?such as 2011 world champion Emily Penner?have danced competitively at home or across the pond and landed spots on touring companies for shows such as Riverdance.
Focusing on perfecting traditional form and technique, classes are kept as small as possible, ensuring personalized attention from one of the school's 10 experienced, decorated instructors. Students also learn stamina, flexibility, and presentation, with an emphasis on avoiding motions that tend to draw judges' ire, such as clumsy arm placement and badgering the audience. Many locations also host more casual classes for adults and groups such as Girl Scout troops.
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.
Between the two of them, Viktor and Kelly Uygan have more than 25 years of experience in two disciplines that require intense conditioning: personal training and professional ballet. So perhaps it's not surprising that at Konnect Pilates, the fitness studio they opened in 2002, they emphasize physically challenging routines that push clients to tone their physiques. Often these routines incorporate special equipment, such as Reformers and Pilates chairs, though some classes simply take place on a Pilates mat. The studio even holds a 30-day lifestyle challenge that can help clients get in the habit of exercising without having to tie a barbell to their index finger to remind them.
The bulk of TruHold's indoor facility pops with colorful holds peppering a looming rock wall. Arranged by levels clearly marked "0" through "5," the grips skirt along the face of a specially designed, angular climbing wall that shifts from a steep 50 degrees to a beginner-friendly 10 degrees. Built for the bouldering style—ascending diverse terrain quickly without ropes or harnesses while dodging boulders hurled by an angry cyclops—the wall juts out over a lushly padded crash mat that cushions climbers. Experienced and professional bouldering climbers offer clinics, classes, gear rental, and open-climb times at their 4,200-square-foot indoor facility, all in the pursuit of welcoming uninitiated climbers into the fold.
The accomplished and experienced strutting instructors at Ladera Ranch Dance Academy, a family owned studio, train toddlers, tweens, and teens in the art and discipline of dance. Boogie beginners as young as 2 can establish a solid dance foundation and a lifelong affinity for sequins with the academy’s array of classes divvied up by age, experience, and type.
Located on the gorgeous shores of Lake Mission Viejo and decorated with hand-painted murals, the picture-perfect hacienda features a menu packed with Mexican favorites. House specialties include carnitas (fresh, Mexican-style pork with frijoles, arroz, salsa fresca, and guacamole, $14.95) and the mole Maria (tender chicken topped with homemade mole sauce, $14.95). If you bring a Valentine's date, the platon de tacos (for two people, $26.95) gives you both ample opportunity to eat from either end of a custom-made taco and meet in the middle—a couples activity as romantic to experience as it is disgusting to watch. Seafarers will dig the marinated convergence of raw fish, lime, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro in Tortilla Flats' ceviche ($11.95) or the sautéed crab and shrimp medley of chimichanga de mariscos ($18.95), while herbivores can savor some deep-fried tostadas stuffed with veggies ($10.95). Chase it all with a dessert of fried ice cream ($6.95) or caramel flan ($4.95). Tortilla Flats also offers a respectable wine list.