Mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque Santa Barbara along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves, and in his Samba classes, he introduces students to the history, culture, and traditions inextricably linked to each movement. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
The Dailey Method builds strength and flexibility through movements that engage entire physiques and focus on proper alignment, earning praise by publications such as InStyle magazine and FitPregnancy. Helmed by owners who trained under the eponymous founder of the method, Jill Dailey, certified instructors at the Santa Barbara studio lead 60-minute classes where students tighten up for bikini season or tone muscles to prep for the flexing portion of a job interview. A melding of yoga poses, core conditioning, and orthopedic exercises, the method tones muscles as instructors offer modifications to accommodate all skill levels. Moves on a ballet barre enhance balance and coordination, and floor work summons sweat with torso-tightening repetitions. Parents can drop their whippersnappers off in childcare, stash their jackets in lockers, and shower before heading home.
The colorful hand and footholds that dot the sharply angled cliffs, overhangs, and arches at Santa Barbara Rock Gym almost beg visitors to climb them. The more than 8,500 square feet of climbable space, designed by El Dorado Climbing Walls, feature enough varied routes and ominous Viking runes to challenge climbers of all ability levels. This range of terrain and attention to detail is essential?the facility is Santa Barbara's only dedicated indoor rock-climbing gym.
Owner Will Russ, a former surfing photographer from Houston, created this space to bring the rocky wilderness indoors and foster a sense of adventure among climbers in a controlled environment. His instructors, each certified by the Climbing Wall Association, teach classes introducing basic belaying and sport-lead techniques. They also delve into the advanced skills required for bouldering and training mountain goats to fetch dropped carabiners.
Classically trained dancer Jill Denison has spent years traveling the world, educating others about the Gyrotonic method. At Gyrotonic Santa Barbara, she teaches students the method, observing the original practices of Gyrotonics founder Juliu Horvath. Although Horvath practiced Gyrotonics to ease the injuries that ended his dance career, its simple movements also benefit healthy bodies—gentle stretches and bends reeducate joints and muscles so that they move fluidly like windsocks, as they were intended. With specialized equipment, Denison and fellow teachers guide students through Gyrotonic exercises. They also offer one-on-one sessions in the Gyrokinesis method, which is based on the same principles. During Gyrokinesis sessions, they help clients link breath and movement into a continuous, relaxing flow.
Vanessa Isaac is a Brazilian dancer, choreographer, and singer whose work has appeared in magazines such as Fitness, Shape, Weight Watchers, and Dance Spirit Magazine. She shares the zest of her home country, where she's been nominated for the International Brazilian Press Award for her efforts to promote Brazilian culture, with clients by combining fitness, dance, and music. Her Brazilian dance classes mix dance moves with Pilates and yoga poses, which have garnered favorable reviews in the form of her Brazilian dance DVD being named one of the top 10 workout DVDs of the year by Fitness and Women's Health Magazines. Vanessa and her colleagues created a compilation of Brazilian tunes that clients can purchase and play at home, in the car, or during their testimony in traffic court.
Personal trainer Zack Bertges channels an extensive fitness resumé to conquer his clients' physical limits. Having earned certifications from NASM and the International Triathlon Coaching Association, he founded Opus Fit as a venue for his scientifically backed training methods—regimens he has perfected while working with college athletes, elite gym facilities, and physical therapy programs.
Zack's 45-minute boot-camp classes blend his affinity for endurance running with core workouts and fast-paced cardio intervals. Set against Santa Barbara's outdoor backdrops, each session sends patrons jogging through picturesque scenery rather than a billowing cloud of treadmill exhaust.