Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.
Fullerton Dancesport Center owner Stuart Cole has made a career out of dancing with style. His long list of achievements and gigs include Scottish amateur ten-dance champion, US National Team representative to the World Championships, and film dancer in Dance with Me and Heaven’s Gate. So it is with this illustrious background that Stuart works with his team of instructors to bring their personal flair to dance lessons for students of all skill levels.
Whether in social groups or private sessions, students can dance seven days a week with a schedule of classes that range from the Latin-inspired salsa and cha cha to the more homegrown country line dancing and West Coast Swing. Wedding dance lessons help bride and groom glide across the floor or bowling lane during their first dance, while youth classes for dancers ages four and up impart basic ballroom and Latin dance techniques along with rhythm and posture. For a more sweat-inducing workout, Zumba fitness classes blend the dance styles taught in Latin lessons with energetic music.
Yoga is a great way to stay toned and limber while temporarily storing worldly worries in a drawer with knick-knacks, spare change, and shrunken heads. Like a chameleon trapped in a box of Crayolas, each class transforms yoga into a different shade while remaining the same at its core. Classes range in difficulty and specialty, including such varieties as Vinyasa Flow, Hot Yoga, and other conveniently color-coded courses. Intense red classes incinerate fat, whereas the blue series keeps things slower and steadier. View the upcoming schedule for Long Beach here and Fullerton here.
The ancient art of yoga goes modern at Freeman Yoga, where instructors create a blissful oasis away from the working world's hectic pace and exploding water coolers. Instructors welcome students of all experience levels, whether they're still learning the fundamentals or can practically nap while holding a back-bend pose. Instructors lead students through a variety of yoga styles, including Vinyasa, Hatha, or relaxing flows. They have over 30 classes a week.
At CrossFit Structured, it doesn’t matter where you finish as long as you finish with integrity. Trainers adopt this philosophy during each class, which covers a new workout of the day, or WOD, every day. WODs involve constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensities to help burn calories and fat and boost the body’s metabolism. Though exercises often vary, it’s not uncommon to see CrossFit Structured’s warriors performing weight lifts, running, or testing their body’s limits with exercises such as squats, pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.
Since Brad Wenneberg donned his first martial-arts uniform in 1971, it’s become his business attire as well as his athletic wear. After studying many forms and disciplines, Wenneberg opened his own school, American Marital Arts Academy, to teach Goju-Ryu to a new generation of students. That commitment continues through to the present, with more 10,000 students, including dozens of black belts, served over the past twenty years. Like many traditional martial artists, the instructors spend as much focus on mental discipline and self-confidence as on physical fortitude, skill, and splitting firewood for the winter. Shihan Wenneberg insists on a holistic approach, encouraging students to improve their social skills, perform better in school, and get into better shape to complement their training.