At Bay West Ballroom, students learn how to tango alongside their identical twin, whether they were actually born with one or not. The studio's eastern wall of mirrors stretches for 60 feet, ensuring that students’ reflections are always visible as they spin on the sprung beech-wood floor. On the opposite side, windows admit sunlight and scenic views of the hills, creating an ethereal space where seasoned instructors demonstrate ballroom, Latin, and swing dance styles. Drawing from a diverse curriculum, these instructors cover a broad spectrum of disciplines that range from the cha-cha to the country two-step, encouraging practice in both the classroom and social settings. For example, lessons on popular salsa steps prepare pupils to spin at nightclubs, and wedding courses customize choreography to match a chosen song at elegant receptions.
Directors Mark and Andrea Nelson-Novak have both earned championship titles, and Andrea draws on a degree in biology to better inform her protégés on anatomy, movement, and the location of the body’s rhythm glands. The pair enlists other experts—including US Country and Swing Champion Tony Gutsch and Grand National Latin Finalists Dima and Olga Sukachov—to helm specialized and regular classes. The team also hosts holiday parties each year.
Healdsburg Golf Club carves through Wine Country, loping over undulating terrain marked by mature fir trees and views of Dry Creek Valley. Before taking the course, limber up on the all-weather driving range, with 18 stalls spread over three tiers that allow golfers to smack 300-yard drives or attempt to sink a two-story practice putt. The nine-hole course wraps well-manicured fairways around doglegs and surrounds greens with an entourage of bunkers and rolling mounds. Though suited for beginners, the course is a test for players of abilities, challenging golfers to hit a variety of shots, from long drives down par 5s to bicycle kicks past the goalkeeper on the eighth green. Golfers can relax after their rounds with a relaxing meal at the club’s bar and outdoor patio. The elevated patio overlooks the course as it fades into a sea of trees, misty mountains lining the horizon, and a wormhole leading to a secret nine-hole course on the moon.
Course at a Glance
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.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to the celebration of the art, history, and science of pinball, the Pacific Pinball Museum welcomes hardcore enthusiasts and casual fans alike to learn about and play the popular game. Over 85 operational machines—all set to free play—line the walls of the museum, including electro-mechanical, wood-rail, and wedgehead models, as well as the newest digital machines. Along with historic games on display, such as an 1879 Montague Redgrave Parlor Bagatelle and a Gottlieb 1931 Baffle Ball, three playable clear cabinets reveal the inner workings of the engineering marvel, from the wires feeding the lights to the tiny steelsmiths forging new balls between every play. Enthusiastic guides conduct regular tours of the facilities, whose walls feature hand-painted murals celebrating the game’s diverse colors and symbols.
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.