At times, the atmosphere at Waterbabies Swim School is almost ethereally idyllic; clouds drift overhead as wriggling youngsters dive through hula hoops and parents cradle their infants to embark on a first float. More than 20 years ago, Wendy Gallagher developed the model for this utopic swim academy—lauded by CBS Local as having some of the Best Swim Lessons in Orange County in 2011—in a backyard pool in Capistrano Beach. She noticed how the intimate setting helped children enjoy lessons and eased the anxieties of parents watching their offspring submerge and surface as fully-grown otters. Guided by that experience, she installed modern facilities on the grounds of a quaint, 1920s white-stucco bungalow. The changing rooms feature kid-sized bathroom fixtures and, out in the backyard, a saltwater pool remains heated year-round to a balmy 92 degrees for both swim lessons and parties, staying clean via an Ozone system that instantly kills bacteria.
In Gallagher's aquatic curriculum, water safety is paramount, followed by a loving approach and the conviction that parents of infants can teach their babies how to swim. As a certified Pilates therapist, she quickly sees and corrects improper alignment, and as a mother of four, she knows how games and songs can be used to make lessons more fun and more effective. Instructors are equally sensitive as a result of training with Gallagher and are all certified in infant swimming by the United Swim School Association, a continuing-education organization. To ensure safety and personal attention, lessons max out at three students, and there are never more than two lessons occurring simultaneously in the pool.
At the San Clemente Gym, the bottom line is fitness, but the atmosphere is familial and unpretentious. The latest StarTrac ellipticals, stairmasters, and stationary bikes roam across the floor alongside herds of free weights, mountains of plates, and forests of barbells that together add up to more iron than a steel mill.
The training staff at Fight Strong MMA includes CrossFit-certified trainers, a trainer with 20 years of boxing experience, and a trainer who counts professional MMA fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Chad Mendes among his students. Together they lead a variety of programs that range from youth and adult MMA to boxing, cardio kickboxing, muay thai kickboxing, jujitsu, wrestling, and fitness training.
Exercise should be calming, but for many, the very act of getting to the gym is a source of stress. That’s why Megan and Bernie Wohlfarth designed OceanaFit to center entirely on giving visitors a stress-free experience. When the pair first set out to open the fitness center, they made sure to choose a building that was easy to find and had a roomy parking lot. Inside, their spacious studio keeps classes from ever being crowded, and the ample mirrors, kelly-green walls, and zen-inspired décor keep minds centered even as they focus on keeping their bodies balanced.
The team of instructors each bring a unique approach to their classes, which include a variety of yoga styles including Vinyasa, power flow, and prenatal, along with sculpting Pilates and barre sessions. The studio is also equipped to turn any yoga or Pilates class into a heated session, which helps students release toxins while pushing deeper into their postures and cooking post-workout turkey feasts at the same time.
Snorkeling provides land-lubbing humans with an easy, thrilling opportunity to meet their distant marine neighbors and escape the summer heat. In one two-hour joyride, the skilled seafarers at Riviera Yacht Charters will board passengers on a gorgeous Coast Guard-certified vessel for a breezy tour of the ocean surface, leaving dazzling figure eights and calligraphy spelling out the names of famous horses in its wake. They'll then outfit each explorer in snorkeling gear in preparation for an underwater tour of coastal kelp forests, reefs, and coral sandscrapers, where a certified PADI underwater naturalist will take the time to identify the marine creatures that cross your goggled pathway. Call ahead to schedule your trip.
Situated only two blocks from historic Dana Point Harbor, Reform Pilates Studio reverberates the port's peaceful vibe with its signature, stretch-centric coursework. Group equipment classes stem from basic Pilates methods, which coalesce controlled breathing and fluid movements to fortify the core and prepare for a basic synchronized-swimming routine. The built-in resistance of the studio's Stott Pilates reformers increases intensity as well as range of motion, putting emphasis on the outer limbs that mat-bound practice often fails to incorporate.