San Diego's Best Boutique Fitness 2017
We've sweated through the top yoga, barre, Pilates, and boot camp classes, and are rounding up our favorites
Spirit Yoga | Photo by Jay Reilly
An ancient Indian practice that combines breath work, meditation, postures, and flowing movements, sometimes in heated settings
The Space: Stepping off the elevator into Trilogy’s rooftop aerie feels like entering high-end hippie heaven. The aerial yoga space is a showstopper with stunning ocean views, but be sure to check out the equally lovely 1,800 square feet of indoor yoga space as well.
Challenge Level: Classes are variable, with everything from high-energy yoga to meditation-focused sessions.
Bonus: After an infrared-light-therapy yoga class, grab lunch at the in-house vegan café or browse the boutique selling yoga clothes, aromatic oils, and lotions.
Drop-in $20–24; Unlimited Monthly $150
7650 Girard Avenue, La Jolla
The Space: The modern, high-end studio, which has cushioned floors, feels like a cozy yoga pod. Extra points for a slick locker room.
Challenge Level: Their hot yoga classes are some of the steamiest in town.
Bonus: The retail area is as well-stocked as any major activewear boutique, with tanks and leggings, water bottles, and yoga mats. Some locations also offer childcare services.
Drop-in $25; Unlimited Monthly $119
Carlsbad, Point Loma, Rancho Bernardo, and Solana Beach
The Space: The bright, spacious studio is filled with greenery, plus several changing rooms in the back for pre- and postwork sessions.
Challenge Level: Beginners will appreciate the slower pace and modifications of Level One classes, while Level Two is perfect for more experienced yogis who like inversions and trickier postures.
Bonus: Kelly’s weekly hip-hop yoga class is a fun spin on traditional vinyasa, with hip-hop and R&B music setting the soundtrack.
Drop-in $18; Unlimited Monthly $150
1559 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
A core-centric workout performed on a mat or springboard “reformer” with straps that develops strength and flexibility
The Space: Formerly Core40, and BodyROK before that—but don’t let the re-rebranding fool you. The workout is solid, as are the regular attendees at this super-tough Pilates class executed on the Megaformer, which we’ve previously lauded as the Ferrari of reformers.
Instructors: Trainer at both locations and San Diego native Estella Gardinier is a sunny, bright spot in a hellish workout—she was also the winner of ABC’s The Bachelor season 4 with Bob Guiney. Another standout (Little Italy location only) is Dr. Mark Greenberg, who’s also clinical professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics chief at UCSD.
Results: It’s just 40 minutes per sesh, but by the time you hobble out of class, they say you’ve burned 500 to 800 calories.
Drop-in $35; 10-class pack $225
1202 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy; 437 South Highway 101, Solana Beach
Challenge Level: Choose from eight types of reformer classes, each in various difficulty levels. There’s the traditional CP Reformer Plus, the massage-like CP Stretch, and CP Teen for the younger set.
Instructors: They’re sensitive to pregnant participants and those with injuries, offering great modifications. Jacque and Tressa at both the Bankers Hill and North Park locations are two of our favorites.
Bonus: They’ve hosted motivational campaigns like March Matness, in which members earn points for everything from attending class before 6:30 a.m. to encouraging friends to join— all in the name of workout- themed prizes.
Drop-in $20; Unlimited Monthly $159
Bankers Hill, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Eastlake, Encinitas, La Mesa, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, Morena, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos, and Santee
Pilates of San Diego
The Space: With locations in the Marina District and East Village, this studio appeals to the downtown set. Both spots have a super-clean, minimalist design, filled with natural light and top-of-the-line reformers, plus an area for barre classes.
Instructor: Founder Ania London, who teaches at both locations, gives frequent adjustments, which helps perfect your form and makes you really feel the burn.
Bonus: We love the cardio Pilates classes, which use a padded jumpboard attached to the reformer. It’s a killer low-impact workout while you’re lying down.
Drop-in $27; Memberships start at $129
450 10th Avenue, East Village; 310 K Street, Marina District
An indoor cycling class performed on stationary bikes with adjustable controls
Pure Indoor Cycling
The Space: Its entrance is lined with crisp whites and blues, but the studio is an energizing Technicolor explosion of hues that alternate throughout the 45-minute class.
Challenge Level: Pure Rhythm classes offer a traditional spin experience, while Pure Power classes incorporate weights into the routine—all on a bike that allows riders to choose their own resistance.
Bonus: Themed rides, like an all-Beyoncé soundtrack and “I Love the ’90s,” make classes feel like a party on a bike.
Drop-in $25; Unlimited Monthly $210
401 West A Street, Core-Columbia
Challenge Level: Routines include sitting, standing, and hovering on the bike, with push-ups and a weighted arm workout in between. Riders can adjust resistance themselves, so the 45-minute rides can be as breezy or intense as needed.
Instructors: The excellent teachers are the main reason to ride here. Paul is known for his Top 40 soundtrack and motivational mantras, Maya selects great hip-hop and R&B tunes, and Jenna and Shannon are tough teachers whose classes often get booked in advance.
Bonus: Beyond the free rental shoes and chilled eucalyptus-scented towels given at the end of each class, Spark hosts Karma Rides benefiting charities like One Love Movement.
Drop-in $22; Unlimited Monthly $220
7777 Fay Avenue La Jolla; 2834 Perry Road, Liberty Station
A workout using a ballet barre for balance, with targeted muscle movements designed to tone and lengthen
Music: Expect a mix of fun pop and Top 40 tunes—no techno or EDM here.
Instructors: We love Allison McCurdy, who owns the Liberty Station location. She’s a Bar Method pro and knows how to help you get the most out of your workout.
Bonus: Most classes are almost all women, and the whole vibe is really female-friendly and supportive. Pregnant women swear by it and continue to take classes all the way up until their due dates.
Drop-in $24; Memberships start at $105
Carmel Mountain, Liberty Station, and Solana Beach
The Space: It’s not just the cute boutique, or the free almonds and coffee at the front—we also love the wood floors that feel cleaner and fresher than the ubiquitous barre studio carpet.
Challenge Level: Your legs are guaranteed to quiver during moves like a plié while pulsing on your tippy toes, but there is ample stretching between sets.
Instructors: At the Mission Hills studio, Malen’s energy is infectious; she’ll have you squatting, tucking, and smiling throughout the hour.
Drop-in $20; Memberships start at $165
Bird Rock, Carmel Valley, Encinitas, and Mission Hills
The Space: The East Village studio is our fave—modern lighting, skylights, and new carpet. Note that each location is franchised, so a membership at one can’t be used at another.
Instructors: East Village owner Allison Campbell has set the tone with her friendly hires, making for a studio that feels comfortable and personal. The teachers are always happy to tutor students so they really master the “tuck”—and get their money’s worth.
Results: We’ve found very few workouts that target the abs so efficiently, and we love being able to experience the burn deep in our core. This precision-based workout is best for detail-oriented, body-aware types like ballerinas and yogis—those who understand a one-quarter-inch correction.
Bonus: Wine tastings and monthly challenges keep participants bonded and focused.
Drop-in $25; Memberships start at $170
Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Eastlake, East Village, Hillcrest
A high-intensity series of movements incorporating weights, resistance, and cardio bursts
The Space: The vibe is moody and dark, with an overhead orange glow at these studios that have treadmills, rowing machines, and individual weightlifting stations.
Challenge Level: People who don’t love to run or spend time on the treadmill may find it intense and intimidating. But power walking is always an option, and people can go at their own pace.
Results: The intervals are designed to get people working at 84 to 91 percent of their maximum heart rate, which is considered the “orange zone.” The “theory” is that staying in the orange zone for a total of 12 to 20 minutes during the hour-long class will boost calorie burn for up to three days afterward. Elevated screens post everyone’s heart rate, which serves as a major motivator, especially for competitors who like to finish at the head of the class.
Drop-in $30; Unlimited Monthly $179
Bankers Hill, Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Del Sur, Eastlake, Encinitas, La Jolla, La Mesa, Mission Valley, Point Loma, Poway, and Solana Beach
Physical Culture 101
The Space: Martial artists, pro surfers, and CrossFit athletes come together in this 10,000-square-foot space—half of it outdoors—to use the barbells, pull-up bars, and kettlebells. An absence of TVs makes for a more focused workout.
Challenge Level: Get ready to sweat. Classes are high intensity.
Bonus: Physical Culture 101 is home to CrossFit Leucadia. Whether you join the CrossFit classes or train on your own, the community of friendly, fit athletes will inspire you to test your limits, build muscle, and improve stamina.
Drop-in $15–$20; Unlimited Monthly $54 for general membership/$174 for gym plus CrossFit membership
1144 North Coast Highway 101, Leucadia
Title Boxing Club
Favorite Class: Kickboxing has a greater variety of movements than boxing class, with longer combos of kicks and punches (translation: the class goes by faster).
Instructors: Nate Salva-Cruz is just the right amount of tough—if you’re dying, he won’t make you keep going, but if you’re slacking off and he knows you can give a little more, he’ll get in your face. Nate also conducts a good ab workout.
Results: Muscles you didn’t even know you had will ache. Feel like a badass just being there, wearing your gloves and surrounded by the bags. Beyond the workout and confidence booster, it’s the absolute best stress relief.
Drop-in $25; Unlimited Monthly $119
2852 University Avenue, North Park