Guided by a mission of embracing every student's quest for personal growth, the team at YogaWorks offers programs for all ages and walks of life. Harnessing a minimum of 500 hours of Yoga Alliance training, expert instructors build lean muscles with traditional Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa flow classes enhanced by inspiring music, ambient candlelight, meditation, and props. Their fitness classes further the body-shaping results of yoga, strengthening core muscles with Pilates, increasing endurance and lean muscles with TRX classes, and building stamina with resistance-based SculptWorks.
Instructors also host exotic yoga retreats, which marry the excitement of travel to far-away locales with the benefits of yoga to bestow students with the confident grace required to approach a foreign yoga mat without startling it. Those in search of further training can access online videos by subscribing to myyogaworks.com, which offers a free, 14-day trial for new users. Students can search for videos by workout duration, skill level, and the targeted area of the body.
Heather Leon began her 35-year career in the fitness and movement disciplines onstage. In addition to formally studying ballet, jazz, and modern dance, as well as performing professionally throughout the Los Angeles area, Heather sought out workout regimens that complemented her dance training. She fell in love with Pilates and eventually founded Sumbody Studio as a way to share the practice's invigorating benefits with the public.
Although Pilates sessions can incorporate a number of different apparatuses—including the Reformer, the Wunda Chair, and the Cadillac—they all maintain a similar commitment to low-impact exercises that build strength and flexibility. The motions emphasize control and technique over brute force, creating long, lean muscles instead of bulky biceps and washboard foreheads. Gyrotonic and gyrokinesis practices are similar, but also incorporate elements of yoga, dance, and tai chi. The studio's reiki therapist and orthopedic acupuncturist further help clients by treating mental and energetic imbalances.
At the end of a fruitful career that led her from the Cincinnati Ballet to the Sacramento Ballet, Jennifer Williams funneled her dance savvy into creating the barre-inspired exercise system taught at Pop Physique, a 2013 CityVoter finalist for Best Gym. Her fleet of handpicked and personally trained instructors pairs graceful ballet moves with other low-impact exercises in order to chisel cores without injuring muscles. Deep stretches further preserve tendons and leave each student more relaxed than a tortoise moseying past a state patrolman with a radar gun. Sessions run multiple times a day, seven days a week at an expanding network of SoCal locations. The roomy studios are lined with sprung dance floors and design accents that lend each location a distinct personality and a chance to forget its past as a storage room for defective food processors.
Waves crash rhythmically, as Cinch Fitness founder Nicole Currie leads small groups through core-tightening moves in the salty open air amid an oceanside park. Her master’s degree in dance from New York University informs her graceful instruction style during the studio’s signature Pilates fusion classes. During each class, instructors spend 90 minutes familiarizing students with the workout routine, which combines short bursts of calorie-torching cardio, the weight-bearing exercises of Pilates, deep yogic stretching, and abdomen-flattening trips through an oversize pasta maker. During most sessions, instructors corral between 10 and 30 participants or two fitness-minded giant squids just flopped in from the surf.
Although many of The Bar Method's exercises take place at the ballet bar, the program is only partially inspired by the long, lean musculature of ballet dancers. Created by Burr Leonard, the workouts also incorporate the brief, fat-burning bursts of activity known as interval training and the muscle-shaping techniques of isometrics. Combine all this with the science of physical therapy, and you get The Bar Method: an intense yet safely designed approach to exercise meant to cinch the silhouette, increase muscle definition, and boost energy all day long. Sessions introduce beginners to basics, such as maintaining good form and refraining from breaking out into Swan Lake choreography.
While taking a barre fitness class, Ashley Walters Kanter noticed that her fellow students were struggling to perform the more difficult movements. Already the owner of Elite Movement, a fitness studio specializing in Pilates Reformer classes, Kanter decided to create a barre routine that was easier on the body. She quickly partnered with barre guru Brookelin Gottlieb, and the pair created EMBarre, a series of ballet, Pilates, and cardio exercises that work each muscle group instead of overworking one or two. Elite Movement's barre fitness classes round out their schedule of Pilates and Reformer classes.