As they enter the training at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
The Dailey Method centers on small movements that isolate key muscle groups, especially those that support the spine, but their effects are far from small. Over the course of many reps, these subtle movements can build lean muscle and improve posture—results that have been noted by magazines such as InStyle and Allure.
The Dailey Method often reminds people of Pilates, and rightfully so. Dailey Method founder Jill Dailey McIntosh was a Pilates trainer for many years. Her method blends Pilates with elements of ballet and yoga, but is also focused on customization. Instructors frequently suggest modifications personalized to their students, rather than insisting shorter students work out in heels.
As Ross Valley CrossFit states on their website, they’re focused on creating a workout that’s “productive, not destructive.” That said, the CrossFit system is intense, and the trainers push their students to the limit during daily workouts populated with a variety of challenging but functional movements and exercises. Through the use of intuitive movements such as pushing, running, and pressing, they prepare class participants for anything the day can throw at them, from hauling groceries to fireman-carrying a large person, running a marathon, or climbing a mountain. They mix up routines each day to keep things interesting; students may perform pushups and deadlifts one session before swinging kettlebells and running sprints the next. Paired with nutritional advice, workouts help those of all ages and fitness levels slim down, enhance agility and flexibility, and build brawn across all muscle groups.
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.
Most gyms don't limit their membership enrollment, which is why Meridian's Bodies in Motion does. By managing their member count, the workout areas are less crowded and visitors can step right up to machines without wasting precious calorie-burning minutes waiting in line. The staff can focus on keeping the facility clean and getting acquainted with clients, adding personal touches such as greeting members by name every time they enter and swipe their membership card, which means "hello" in several languages.
At each facility, a team of certified fitness instructors encourages exercise efforts during an array of group classes, including Zumba, spin, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and cross-training. The certified personal trainers devise customized workout routines and monitor exercisers' forms as they carve muscles lifting free weights and slim down on cardio and strength-training equipment from Icarian, Hammer Strength, Precor, and FreeMotion. Special features—such as racquetball courts, swimming pools, saunas, indoor basketball courts, boxing rings, childcare, and cuddly kitten pits—vary depending on location.
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 & Power Yoga San Rafael boasts two classrooms, specifically designed for and dedicated to the classes that happen in each one.
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.