Shesha Marvin was nervous as he gazed out on the dance floor, certain that his pounding heart could even be heard over the booming music. He had always been uneasy on his feet, choosing to lurk by the punch bowl at parties rather than asking girls for a dance?but now, at last, was a chance to overcome his fear. He took a deep breath and stepped out onto the floor, where he was immediately swept away in a rush of lively beats and glimmering lights.
After than fateful night, Shesha was hooked. He began dancing six nights a week at local clubs and, eventually, in Disneyland shows, favoring the lindy-hop and swing styles. He traveled the world to compete in international championships, even performing live on Dancing with the Stars. Today, Shesha brings his years of passion and expertise to his own dance studio, Atomic Ballroom.
Atop the hardwood floors of his spacious studio, Shesha and his instructors lead students of all experience levels through the steps, twirls, and transitions of the East Coast swing, the American fox trot, and the Argentine tango. The instructors can even help couples choreograph a dance for their wedding while providing expert advice on how to sashay gracefully in heels or how to twirl the bride without destroying the reception hall with F5-level winds. Every night of the week, they host a group dance party?from Sunday night tango to Saturday night Ballroom, and belly dance throughout the week.
On the same expanse of cork-padded floor at Gryphon Fitness Studio, feet pivot into tango turns, sabers flash and meet with a clang, and bodies twirl in midair, suspended from shining hoops. Of course, not all of this takes place at the same time. The space is reserved to let instructors, including a former fencing state champion and Zumba enthusiasts, share their various passions. Though their specialties span a range that includes dance, fitness, aerial arts, and three types of swordplay, they all focus on giving each student individual attention and consideration. Rather than pushing their guests toward competition or training them not to blink in progressively brighter spotlights, they devise routines to challenge students at their preferred pace. During day camps for children, the instructors bask in a chorus of happy young voices as they explain the basics of kung fu, fencing, and acrobatics.
Debbie Dixon, certified yoga instructor and founder?of Yoga Body & Soul, has a?passion for yoga and dedicates?herself to helping others feel the healing benefits that?she's experienced firsthand. Debbie's yogic journey brought her to a place of wellness and joy. She and her certified staff teach Kundalini and Hatha yoga classes and gentler?blended classes?for?beginners in a comfortable and welcoming environment?. Restorative Yoga?focus?on linking the breath with healing movements, and?Hatha Flow classes help build?strength and flexibility through challenging sun salutations.
The trainers at Precision Fitness believe that achieving wellbeing is a deeply individual process. For this reason, they work only with small groups of students, avoiding the intimidating bustle that’s common at most gyms and instead facilitating focused, nonjudgmental sessions. The intimate setting allows them to create exercise regimens for patrons of all walks of life, from those with little gym experience to seasoned athletes or brides-to-be. Their programs typically involve a mix of cardiovascular and weight training, as well as nutrition tips for healthier long-term diets that don't just advise patrons to eat two apples a day. Though they embrace a private atmosphere during lessons, group activities outside of the gym, such as bowling outings and dinner parties, encourage a sense of community among their clients.
With locations in San Ramon and Lafayette, internationally recognized Itrim helps members lose weight quickly and keep it off by combining healthy meal plans with a specialized exercise center. Unlike other weight-loss programs that stop when clients have reached their goal, Itrim recognizes that most people still need guidance when it comes to maintaining their svelte figures. So their health coaches and staff take the time to provide hands-on support and give members tips for incorporating healthy eating and exercise into their daily routine. By following these tips and the rest of the program, Itrim says members can lose an average of 25 pounds in the first 12 weeks.
The primary inspiration behind My Gym, a children's activity center with outposts in more than 30 countries, was to combat childhood obesity. This led to the development of a full curriculum of fitness and play classes for kids and invisible friend dinosaurs ages 6 weeks to 13 years. But the physical activity is just part of the process. As each child accomplishes the tasks set forth for their age group—which might include anything from sing-alongs to introductions to sports—kids experience cognitive and emotional benefits as well. The group environment helps students socialize while they learn to share and take turns, and the attention and support from instructors boost their confidence and sense of independence. For kids 2.5 years and older, progress is tracked through the Building Blocks program, a system that recognizes and awards children as they display their new skills at periodic acknowledgment ceremonies.
Jeremy and Janine Hanewinckel, a husband and wife team with varied but complementary backgrounds, own the Yorba Linda My Gym location. Jeremy—or Mr. Jeremy, as the kids call him—received a degree in child and adolescent studies at Cal State Fullerton, and Miss Janine is a certified teacher who, when not at My Gym, interacts with kids through her job at Disneyland. In addition to classes organized by age, their full schedule also includes year-round day camps and customized birthday parties.