Fitness Fun

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Rockreation in Costa Mesa offers a wide variety of classes ranging from introductory climbing and technique classes to personal coaching and even yoga classes for all abilities. | Photo by Alexandra Martin

These workout options take exercise beyond the traditional treadmill or stationary bike.

By Tanya A. Yacina


During the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms and fitness centers that had to close their doors went the extra mile to keep their members motivated and created online and Zoom versions of their usual in-house classes. Now that many of the restrictions have been lifted and life is slowly returning to normal, more and more fitness enthusiasts are looking for engaging in-person classes and activities to get their heartbeats racing, and local fitness centers are happy to oblige.

“When everything shut down, it left a lot of people scrambling to figure out how to stay fit and active. We all know it took a big toll on our physical and mental health,” says Rockreation General Manager Alan Aguirre.

Luckily, Newport Beach has many options—that feel more like play than exercise—to offer fitness newbies, experienced workout buffs and everyone in between.


Outside the Box

For those searching for a different kind of full-body workout—and interested in trying rock climbing since it debuted at the Olympics over the summer—Rockreation in Costa Mesa offers a wide variety of classes ranging from introductory climbing and technique classes to personal coaching and even yoga classes for all abilities. The gym also hosts classes that cater to younger climbers, and offers activities such as birthday parties as well as kids climbing sessions and camps.

Boxing Lab and CEO Alex Arreguin_no credit needed
Alex Arreguin, founder and CEO of Boxing Lab, which modernizes the sport in a hip and fun gym environment that allows participants to focus on building strength and endurance

“Fitness and climbing, specifically, if I may be so bold, has such an amazing impact on our mental and physical well-being. So, of course, getting fitness centers open again is so incredibly important,” Aguirre explains.

“The thing about climbing is that you are having so much fun figuring out how to get to the top of these climbs that you forget you are working out. You forget until the next day when you feel soreness in muscles you didn’t even know you had. But it’s that amazing feeling that you’re getting stronger that keeps you coming back for more.”

Other outside-of-the-box workout options in the Newport Beach area include classes at The Bar Method, a fitness studio that puts the focus on using a ballet barre and your own body weight; SoulCycle, which offers participants a high-energy, indoor cycling workout; or the Boxing Lab, dedicated to building strength and endurance.

Ra Yoga_no credit needed
Try vinyasa, Yogalates, sound healing and more at Ra Yoga.

“Boxing is such an empowering experience for most,” says Boxing Lab founder and CEO Alex Arreguin. “Boxing Lab modernizes traditional boxing in a more hip and fun gym environment. Even though we are known for having a more fast-paced boxing class, our members enjoy the challenge and, as they get better, you can see the personal growth each of them takes pride in.

“It really is a workout where you might be intimidated at first, but once you take that first step, you are hooked and keep coming back for more.”


On the Mat

“During time away from the gym, many have missed their yoga mats and Pilates machines, but there is no shortage of these fitness options in Newport Beach either.

Keely Watson, owner of Club Pilates, says her establishment offers a variety of Reformer-based group Pilates classes complemented by TRX suspension bodyweight training, Springboard, EXO Chair and other equipment as well as TriggerPoint massage therapy tools for myofascial release.

courtesy of Club Pilates
Club Pilates offers classes and one-on-one sessions. | Photo by Club Pilates

“All of our classes are designed to build strength, mobility and stability, and are offered in a variety of levels,” Watson says. “Whether someone is brand new to Pilates or a seasoned practitioner, we have a class for them. Additionally, we offer private training for those looking for that one-on-one experience and personally tailored workout.”

At Ra Yoga in Newport, instructor and marketing manager Shelby Nesheim credits the studio’s yoga community with helping each other to stay positive during the COVID-19 shutdowns and doing everything possible to keep Ra Yoga alive. The studio quickly adapted in every way possible, including creating an online streaming platform and temporarily holding classes outside.

“We are now back—and stronger than ever—with a full schedule of classes in-studio and online. Our three open studio locations in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Long Beach each offer around nine classes per day, with styles including vinyasa, Yogalates, strength, hot, yin, prenatal, sound healing and meditation,” Nesheim explains. “Our online streaming platform, Ra Yoga Live, has multiple new classes added each day, and we are also excited to be reintroducing babysitting, [which is now available] at our Costa Mesa location.”


Get With the Group

Cycling, barre and yoga classes offer a great group dynamic, but if you’re interested in moving your body in a different way while still in a group setting, dance and cardio classes or circuit training may pique your interest.

Shape-Up Health Club in Corona del Mar offers different levels of personal training programs and nutritional coaching, as well as a variety of group exercise classes including cardio dance, Zumba, yoga, barre, Pilates mat, TRX, low-impact strength and high-intensity interval training.

CAZ Training Club_credit Nadim Zoghbi
CAZ Training Club’s newly renovated space | Photo by Nadim Zoghbi

“Our morning classes are especially popular with the various dance classes taught by our very talented instructors,” says Group Exercise Director Denise Bartlett. “Additionally, we have a Sculpt low-impact class utilizing bands, balls and light weights that is highly attended each week.

“The men and women who attend our dance-type classes not only look forward to the cardio workout they receive, but they also enjoy the upbeat, lively music and the creative and traditional moves taught by our professional, certified instructors. They also enjoy the social connection with other members and look forward to seeing and dancing with them throughout the week.”

Also in Newport Beach, CAZ Training Club offers group circuit training classes, moving participants through strength and cardio stations, mixing it up on different days to keep gymgoers from getting bored. CAZ, which recently completed a remodel, also has launched a spin studio in Irvine with free access for the Newport gym members and also gives back a portion of revenue to charity each month based on achieving class attendance goals. Meanwhile, F45 Training offers group sessions designed to provide a functional full-body workout—a mix of circuit and HIIT-style exercise—in a short 45-minute class.

No matter what you choose to be your next fitness endeavor, it’s important to remember to take things slowly and ease back into workouts as your body allows.

Shape Up in CdM_credit Eric Bergstrom/Orange County Digital
Shape-Up Health Club in Corona del Mar | Photo by Eric Bergstrom/Orange County Digital

“Do a little bit every day. Start small and be consistent. Don’t jump in and think, ‘I’m going to work out as hard as I was before’ right off the bat—that will put you out a week to recover, and then you’ll have to start all over again,” Aguirre says.

“I know, personally, how difficult getting back into a routine can be. It can feel daunting and, oftentimes, we feel alone in this journey with little to no motivation. … Finding an awesome community and support system that you can reach out to, or that can reach out to you, to encourage you to keep going is also probably among the best things you can have to get back into an awesome routine.”

Arreguin adds that working out can also contribute to preserving a person’s mental and emotional well-being.

“Keeping your body healthy and staying
active is not only going to help you physically, but also mentally,” he says. “Keeping active can help eliminate stress and depression, which is a common concern among many people during these times.”

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