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.
Huw Lloyd Davies and Stu White started HDX Fit as a place where they can help others improve their own health and fitness. The center's training principles are built upon holistic health awareness, the fundamentals of nutrition, and metabolic conditioning. Alongside an excellent supporting staff, the team curates a curriculum of group training classes, personal-training sessions, nutrition consultations, and holistic life coaching.
HDX Fit also offers an online training program, a portal full of videos and written workouts for people who can?t make it to classes because their motorized unicycles are out of gas. The online program includes a weekly telephone chat with one of the gym?s trainers, who speaks to the philosophy of the center's inspirational founder.
It was the back pain that convinced Clint Bigham to give up a promising career in golf—he competed in junior tournaments against greats such as Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, going pro at age 20—and begin exploring the world of yoga and Pilates for the healing he sought. Now a certified personal trainer and the founder of We Fit Gym, Clint spends his time helping people shrink waistlines and feel energetic enough to perform superhuman feats, such as attending a nudist convention fully clothed. His gym is an oasis that tradition and innovation happily share; conventional equipment and classes work in tandem with ROM (Range of Motion) machines, TurboSonic, and HyperGravity vibration trainers, and an infrared sauna whips bodies into shape with low risk of injury and maximum efficiency. Before clients begin building strength and setting calories afire, Clint consults with them to develop a custom fitness program, covering nutrition basics, recommending workout routines, and exposing the sad, sad truth about motivational posters.
With a career that has spanned three decades?including a starring role in more than 60 fitness DVDs, lectures in more 14 countries, and work published in Men?s Fitness, Shape, and the LA Times?John Garey, founder of John Garey Fitness & Pilates, has certainly left an indelible mark on the fitness industry. The studio that bears his name upholds the philosophy that fitness should be fun. Its group fitness studio hosts equipment for TRX-suspension and trampoline-fitness classes, as well as dumbbells for boxing and boot camps. The Pilates room features Stott Pilates Reformers, and nearby, a couple dozen Spinner Blade Ion cycles sit waiting to hum under the command of certified Spinpower instructors. In addition to group classes, John's team of trainers conducts private training sessions in the personal-training room and provide teacher-training programs to initiate others into their elite group.
Gabriel Hall, owner of Yoga World Studios, discovered yoga at the age of 19 while pursuing his degree in philosophy. Dr. Allen Arnette—already the clinical director of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Department—began studying yoga as a way of researching the role mental well-being plays in healing physical ailments. Katherine Ostrout studied dance science at Cal State Long Beach and turned to Pilates after a ballet injury laid her low. These three weave their diverse backgrounds into the rich tapestry of talent made up by Yoga World’s team of yogis.
Having studied extensively in particular schools of yoga, instructors bring their individual training into the studio, focusing on disciplines that range from the physically challenging to mentally reflective, and include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, and Anusara. In addition to their regular yoga lessons, the Yoga World team also leads mat-Pilates classes, workshops, and private instruction. They use the art of yoga for healing in one-on-one sessions of Thai yoga therapy, which blends shiatsu massage with acupressure, or they coordinate beachside retreats full of yoga, surfing, and yoga-surfing.
Jeannine Carter got her first taste of yoga class in a community yoga studio 20 years ago. Her first simple stretches slowly grew into a full-blown passion and she opened her own studio, Aquarius Yoga, with a mission to make the exercise form accessible to everyone.
To this end, she holds community-member classes on Saturdays at a discounted price and rewards environmental do-gooders with an even deeper discount for those who ride their bikes or falcon-drawn carriages to class. That's hardly the only class time available, though. With nearly a dozen instructors in her employ, Jeannine makes sure students can attend class every day of the week, including morning and evening sessions. When the sun sets on the hardwood-floored attic space, candlelit classes set a meditative tone as students strive to emulate the flowing flexibility of the tiny flames by bending through asanas or eating handfuls of wax.