A love for the outdoors fuels Rebecca Pennington, Bikram Yoga of Santa Rosa’s owner, who spent eight years as a wilderness adventure guide and backpacked 1,700 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail. When her knee gave out from overuse, she was devastated, turning to Bikram yoga in hopes of healing her injury. Eight years later, the pain in her knee is gone, and she has continued playing sports. Inspired by her experience, she’s taken over Bikram Yoga of Santa Rosa with a goal of extending the practice’s healing benefits to others. Her troupe of certified instructors leads students through 90-minute classes, flowing through 26 postures and two breathing exercises, each building on the previous pose to build strength and flexibility. The studio is heated to a balmy 105 degrees, which helps loosen up muscles, flush out bodily toxins, and identify any students concealing snowballs in their backpacks.
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Nestled at the foot of Sugarloaf Ridge, Chateau St. Jean's idyllic 250-acre estate fills with the soft hush of broad grape leaves rustling in the sun. Hedges of waxleaf privet shelter well-manicured gardens, where firework-like bursts of hydrangea sway beneath courtyards and tasting rooms. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren strolls among the trellises, checking on the grapes, which hang heavy with sugar on the vines. She has spent the last 32 years overseeing the harvests at Chateau St. Jean, producing wines that have earned significant praise and awards. Wine Spectator gave the St. Jean Cinq Cépages cabernet sauvignon 93 out of 100 points, calling it “complex, layered, elegant and refined, with cedar cigar box, tobacco, currant and black licorice—trim and tapered.”
The wines fuel jocund chatter in the fully restored chateau, which was originally constructed as a summer home in 1920. In private rooms as well as outside on the sun-drenched deck, glasses click together with the soft jingling sound xylophonists make in their sleep.
Cloverleaf Ranch's sprawling 160-acre oasis unites equestrian couples for majestic horseback rides and picnics out on the trail or poolside. Cascaded with oak trees and thriving frondescence, rippling hills of the frontier west orchestrate the ranch's grazing haven and provide serene backdrops for riders and feral boy scouts. After perusing nature's pathways, jockeys can unwind poolside with appetizers and drinks or find a cozy spot on the trails for a picnic overlooking the lush meadows of Sonoma County. The family-run ranch surmounts rainy days with an indoor riding arena and requires all cavaliers to outfit lower halves with boots, long pants, and holstered water pistols. Boots, helmets, and helmet hair are supplied at no extra cost.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Sonoma Helicopter's fleet of choppers hardly ever stops spinning as they lead training, photography, and tour flights throughout the Sonoma Valley and wine country year round. Their thorough training program pairs classroom and flight sessions to produce pilots capable of taming wild helicopters, and the mountain-flying school further specializes chopper jockeys. Aside from aerial surveys that delve into animal populations, power-line patrols, and crop pollinations, the staff also takes to the air to give guests a bird's-eye view of Sonoma.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts 1,689 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms.