When CrossFit RIOT co-owner and head coach Derek Fay was younger, he was into powerlifting. Even though he wasn't being coached and knew his form wasn't great, he kept ramping up the weight—until he was diagnosed with herniated discs, leading to nearly two years in physical therapy. His back was so damaged that his doctors predicted he'd never lift weights again. But after he finished therapy, a friend introduced him to CrossFit sessions, where he was coached in safe lifting techniques and proper form. Today, he can dead lift more than 500 pounds.
But CrossFit RIOT isn't just for powerlifters. Derek and the other coaches strive to help members of all ability levels reach their fitness goals, from climbing stairs with greater ease to losing weight. Their high-intensity functional workouts can be scaled to be challenging—but not impossible—for everyone, and they emphasize executing good form, which helps to prevent injury.
The exercise routines change each day to keep bodies challenged and minds engaged. Throughout the one-hour workout of the day, they might lead students in swinging kettlebells one day and doing lunges and sprints the next. Classes are capped at 12 students, and the coaches are also available for personal-training and nutrition advice, such as choosing to snack on carrot sticks instead of butter sculptures.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.
Screen acting takes center stage at The Actors Room. Founder Steve Lowe—who won an award for his short film Crash—calls upon more than 20 years of experience in film and TV to guide his students through their journeys to the emotional core of characters. His techniques range from basic to advanced in the areas of scene study, improvisation, natural expression, camera cheats, and monologue study.
Marcus Martinez, a seasoned MMA and UFC trainer, puts his strength-training and conditioning expertise to use at MBody Strength, where he leads a series of fitness classes. Classes in Marcus’s schedule include general self-defense, mixed martial arts, martial-arts conditioning, and Brazilian jujitsu.
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.