Juicy Liberty Sanchez and Steve23 traveled separate, yet intertwining paths before becoming partners in life and in yoga. Juicy was hooked on Bikram yoga after her first class in 2001, during which she fell down many times, but continued to rise to the challenge, both literally and figuratively. As time went on, she grew more interested in yoga than in her erstwhile law career. In 2005, Juicy asked Steve23?making ends meet as an artist?if he wanted to attend a Bikram teacher training with her. It was then they discovered that they had almost met on several occasions in years past. The rest, as they say, is history: the duo became the owners of Bikram Yoga in the Mission in 2006 and was married the following year in Honolulu at another Bikram teacher training. The bright turquoise and orange studio is a vibrant, funky homage to their Latino heritage and Indian culture, complete with murals and artwork painted by the teachers and students.
They and their team of certified Spanish-speaking instructors help perpetuate a yoga method developed by Bikram Choudhury. The sequence of 26 postures, performed in a heated studio, works to stimulate and strengthen every nook and cranny of the human frame. The hot surroundings are designed to loosen muscles, promote flexibility, and add authenticity to karaoke versions of "Hot Blooded." Within the 1,500-square-foot yoga room, up to 70 students become more limber beneath an electric-blue ceiling painted with white swirls that resemble clouds.
When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California?s closure list, Planet Granite?s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite?s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms? fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.
The Love Lab founder and renowned massage-industry expert Meagan Holub has helped some pretty discriminating clientele to relax and unwind. From Forbes CEOs and professional athletes to rock stars and royalty, her therapeutic massages have melted away the stress that is inherent in any A lister's life. According to Holub's blog, gift certificates for one of her massages were given away in VIP gift bags at the 2012 MusiCares event honoring Paul McCartney, so they made their way into the hands of celebrity musicians, such as the Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, and Coldplay.
But Holub talks massage with as many down-to-earth, everyday people as she does famous folks, thanks to a compassionate streak she's demonstrated since childhood. As a young girl and teenager, she rescued stray animals, volunteered at Easter Seals camp, became a physical-therapy assistant, and served as an aide for a person with paraplegia. Today her passion for helping others translates into The Love Lab's services, including group massage classes and private massage lessons that teach individuals and couples to execute the same techniques so sought after by Hollywood stars. Holub and her team of certified massage therapists also instruct employees at workplace events, where they demonstrate stress-relief techniques, which come in handy the next time the boss requires mandatory overtime to help her solve the Sunday crossword.
AstaYoga's instructors have learned over the years that a purely physical approach to yoga can lead to disillusionment with the art. That's why their studio devotes itself to cultivating both the physical and spiritual well-being of its clientele. Each of the teachers studied under Larry Schultz, the creator of the Rocket Vinyasa System, which fuses detailed breathing exercises with meaningful poses. The yogis also practice pure Vinyasa yoga and lead Pilates classes, and all of their sessions are accessible for practitioners at any skill level to follow Larry's vision of dissolving the hierarchy between beginning, intermediate, and advanced students and teachers. The studio also manufactures new yogis and gurus with their teaching courses, some of which take up to 200 hours and all of which require the student to defeat their teacher in a yoga dance-off.
The serenity of AstaYoga's classes is heightened by AstaYoga's tranquil studio. The storefront space is expansive with a comfortable waiting room, hardwood floors, and a large workout space in the back. And to further the mental well-being of their clients, the staff cultivates a friendly, community vibe by encouraging clients to socialize before or after class in their lounge or bamboo garden.
The Polk Street Gym is a boxing gym. It telegraphs its pugilistic philosophy to fitness by center-staging a large, full-size boxing ring just inside the sidewalk storefront windows that stretch from matted floor to lofted ceiling. Both aspiring sparers and everyday Joes, who only have thrown punches at dollar stealing vending machines, train like boxers. Members jump rope, run hills, hit bags, and shadowbox. These drills and exercises firm not just boxing skills, but also general cardio and strength capacity. With 29 classes to choose from, men and women, kids and adults find a fighter's heart in circuit training or boxing classes.
Dublin-bred, former Golden Gloves champion Simon Redmond leads a roster of trainers who are all current or past Golden Gloves champs, whose knuckles turn food, jaws, parking meters, and all they touch to gold. After immigrating to San Francisco in the mid-90s, Simon trained and fought for several years before opening a gym with a partner. At the start of 2010, Simon broke off on his own to open Polk Street Gym. He strives to whip people into shape through boxing, affirming his mission and his passion by writing that despite broken ribs, a broken nose, burst eardrums, and spilt blood, he has loved every minute of his boxing lifestyle.
[Owen Walker](http://www.insideoutimprov.com/page9/page9.html#!owen-walker/c60z has been teaching the Action Theater method for more than 15 years. Originally a visual artist, Owen found a more immediate medium?the human body?and began to experiment with physical improv as a method to further explore his creative impulses. He studied extensively with Ruth Zaporah, the guru of the Action Theater method, and he is now one of the method?s six designated senior teachers.
The Action Theater method approaches physical improvisation and theater from three angles: language, voice, and movement. Classes give special attention to being fully present, connecting with a scene partner, and urging students to focus on how they do something, rather than what they do. The end result not only can transform a student?s performance on the stage, it can also enhance everyday skills such as empathy and spontaneity. Thus, though the technique is rooted in the theater, it can also benefit non-actors, much like a playhouse?s cell-phone-activated trap door.
Though Action Theater sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available