A Guide to 15 Inspired Workout Regimens

Dance, paddleboard, slackline, row, cycle, kickbox, and run your way to fitness.


Bridges Rock Gym

Photos by Pat Mazzera

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There’s no better time than right now to embark on a fitness regimen. The key is finding one that’s demanding and challenging yet rewarding and doable. Workout programs, it turns out, are as varied as we are, which is great, because going to the gym now means everything from running an obstacle course to doing yoga flow to work up a sweat. This guide taps into 15 awe-inspiring regimens to get hearts pumping, cores conditioned, and bodies toned. They are as disparate as hip-hop dancing and boxing, mixed martial arts and acrobatics. But they share commonalities, namely motivational guiding forces behind them, a bit of unpredictability to keep things interesting and fresh, and an uncanny ability to make working out an eagerly anticipated, socially accepted routine. Now, go kick some butt.

Photos by Pat Mazzera

New Style Motherlode

Cardio Hip-Hop

Taking a cardio hip-hop class at New Style Motherlode is like stepping into a very different kind of party–the most fun you’ll have all week without the aid of cocktails or chocolate cake.

During the next hour, in this light, spacious dance studio, one of the NSM instructors will teach you all the moves to form a complete dance worthy of the next Yonce video. You will do that dance over and over again to music until you know it and you are sweating ... and laughing. And sometimes, even if it’s just for a moment, you might feel like one of Mrs. Carter’s backup dancers. Amazingly though, no dance experience is necessary to take this class.

Leading the team of instructors are charismatic NSM directors Corey Action (his real name!), a noted choreographer-DJ and dance coach to celebrity singers who was raised in Oakland but also also works in Dusseldorf, Germany; and Teela Shine-Ross, a California Institute of the Arts graduate who also studied at the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama in London.

The most refreshing thing about this workout? The music is current, and the dances are a mix of video-fabulous and old school Janet Jackson. But no matter how hip the moves and the instructors, you will always feel welcomed, embraced, and encouraged. Believe me–I’m the most unhip 52-year-old mother-of-four, and I always look forward to newstyling my motherlode after the holidays. New Style Motherlode, 4225 Broadway, Oakland, 510-597-1056, www.NewstyleMotherlode.com

—Jody Brettkelly


Spin and Core Classes

Sue Noyes, group exercise director at Active Sports Club in downtown Oakland, delivers some of the most intense but fun workouts around. Her spin classes leave you drenched. Her core classes challenge muscles you didn’t know you had. Noyes makes it all fun with her upbeat enthusiasm, her anecdotes about taking a Segway tour of Oakland or fending off a neighbor’s monster cat, and her ability to make everyone in class feel like her close friend. Noyes makes those two-minute planks feel like 30 seconds. And Active Sports Club continues to be a friendly community that welcomes people of all ages, body types, and fitness levels. Active Sports Club, Oakland City Center, 1200 Clay St. Oakland, 510-895-1010, www.ActiveSportsClubs.com

—Ilana DeBare


Child’s Play

Climb silks and ropes, stand on your head, or balance on a Rolla Bolla. These are the playful movements going on at the Athletic Playground, where the vibe is friendly, the workouts intense and uplifting. Rachel Baker is one of the Playground’s fun-loving instructors who wants to help adults "harness their childlike energy, freedom, and happiness through movement with other people.” You’ll have a blast–and get fit as you move like a monkey, or perhaps a bear, elephant, froggie, or "hungry, super-sexy chicken"–all actions harking back to child’s play. Classes and workshops range from acrobatics to acro-yoga, from parkour to handstands. "Monkey Conditioning” is a favorite, offering a chance to rediscover how to run, jump, climb, and dodge as if you’re a kid again. Athletic PlayGround, 4770 San Pablo Ave, Unit E, Emeryville, 510-355-1626, www.AthleticPlayground.com

—Rachel Trachten


Stand-up Paddleboarding

For those itching to get out on the water to play, but not wanting to mess with boats or skis, stand-up paddleboarding is the way to go. It is a total-body workout and an excellent cross-training endeavor. Classes for curious beginners are available through California Canoe & Kayak. Three-hour beginners class takes place on the Oakland estuary, at a dock right in Jack London Square. Once you’ve completed the class and gotten hooked on this new sport that’s like riding an oversized surfboard with a paddle requiring skilled balancing and even strokes, you can return and rent gear for $20 an hour. If you’ve got a group of friends, private lessons are available with reduced rates. California Canoe & Kayak, Jack London Square, 409 Water St., Oakland, 510-893-7833, www.CalKayak.com


—Kyrsten Bean

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