From Extreme!

ClassPass San Francisco classes to help shed that pesky holiday weight

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One of my favorite photos from one of my favorite hikes.

Words and photo by Nadia Ibanez

This is the time of year when all kinds of new faces are flooding our favorite local gyms, yoga studios, boxing rings, and Pilates places. For the past two years, my workout regimen has seen little variance: Hot yoga or sculpt three to five times a week with a spattering of weekend hikes or long urban treks.

While I’m a usual suspect at my favorite hot yoga studio, I decided that one of the best ways to explore SF this year was to change up my workout routine while exploring the neighborhood around it. Thankfully, my new membership with ClassPass is helping out immensely.

From hot yoga and Pilates, to boxing and high intensity training, here’s a look at some of the best ClassPass San Francisco classes I’ve taken along the way.

The Park Gym for a total, get-all-of-your-rage out, workout

If you’re looking for the best workout after a long work day or an outlet to get out some nasty energy, the All Levels Boxing class at The Park Gym is your best bet. Class starts out with a few laps around the gym before diving into punches and dedicated time on the punching bag. I was covered in sweat by about 15 minutes into class and the sweat only managed to increase exponentially with each punch and duck. Amenities are pretty standard and the gym is lively and exciting at full capacity. Don’t make the mistake I did and wear a cute lululemon outfit because you will be rolling around on the floor during cool down. (To the single ladies out there, this is a great place for you. There are men everywhere who are eager to help out and spot you. I’d be alllll over this place if I wasn’t with my man.)

Burn SF for a sweaty, empowering work out

I usually find all-girl or female-focused workouts to be a little silly; I can go toe-to-toe for a push up challenge or beat the living hell out of a punching bag if you catch me on the right day. But there’s definitely something to say for the attitude you’ll experience during the female-prevailing Total Body Burn at Burn SF. I left class feeling motivated and empowered by my womanness. I’ve done Pilates for years but the fact that Burn incorporates weights and cardio while maneuvering around the springboard-centric class really is the game changer here. Like the class name states, your entire body will get worked; my arms, quads and ass were sore in the best of ways the following day. There’s a rad, female-empowered community vibe at Burn, which is hard to come by in a place like San Francisco.

Rogue & Saint for full body boot camp training

As I’m writing this, it’s been two days since my first Rogue Body Signature class at Rogue & Saint and I’m still incredibly sore. (Seriously, guys. Never have my forearms and biceps been this stiff. I can’t even open a jar, but it hurts so good.)  It’s been a hot minute since I’ve taken any sort of boot camp class and this training promises a full-body workout spread over 80 minutes of intense, constant movement. This advanced class is not for the faint of heart or really anyone who feels out of shape. You will be running on steep inclines on a treadmill (we’re talking a 7.0 speed on a 7.0 incline), you will be doing a ton of pull ups, and you will learn how to do a proper lunge – so much so that your body will uncontrollably shake by the end of class. I decided to take the class with R&S fitness guru Michael G. Not only did he pay personal attention to me when I felt like I was going to pass out, but he also motivated me to keep running on the treadmill and lord knows I’ll get out of anything that involves running. He will call you out if you stop running; he will call you out if your form is off. So if you don’t like the extra nudge/occasional yell, this class might not be for you.

Wheel House for workouts motivated by music

I have a true love-hate relationship with spinning. I often get distracted and bored during spin, but now that there’s a sense of mind-body connection to modern-day spinning, I decided to give it a whirl again. The WH Smart Rhythm at Wheel House incorporates hand weights into its class, along with bangin’ music, mood lighting, and rhythm. The instructor sits on a slightly raised stage (spotlights, light controls, and all) and guides you through the “cardio dance party” workout. The cycling room itself is pretty high tech and remains fairly cool for the duration of class, making it ideal for a mid-work day workout. But if you’re like me and want to sweat, ask for a seat not directly under the fans. The amenities are spa-like (there’s even a snack table for an after workout pick-me-up) so you might find yourself taking your time before moving on to your next destination.

Ritual Hot Yoga for a sweaty, hands-on yoga

I first wrote about Ritual Hot Yoga back in early 2016 and I can’t tell you how happy I am to find this studio on ClassPass. The classes itself haven’t changed much but the studio has added a couple new amenities to make your time there even more enjoyable. I especially loved all of the new lockers and the essential oil station to add a drop of lavender or mint to your towel to enhance your senses even more. If you’re a yogi in the city and haven’t tried this place out, you’re missing out on so much.

Salt for full-body workouts in the cutest of studios

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Wise words from the ladies at Salt.

I’ve only tried one class at Salt and I can already see this studio becoming part of my weekly workout routine. From the activated charcoal they put in their water to help with flushing out toxins to the girly details found throughout the space, I LOVE everything about Salt. I took a Barre Fight class the other weekend and loved everything about the class. We worked out on the barre, did a short round of kickboxing, used resistance bands to work our legs and butt, and finished up with some stretches. Apparently their 7×7 HIIT classes are the most popular; I’ve been trying to get into a class for a few weeks now. I’ll finally get to try it out next week so come back soon for more details.

Stay tuned as I add more ClassPass San Francisco classes and gyms to the list!

ICYMI: The Edwardian Ball was an absolute playground for adults

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Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

The stereotype is true: San Franciscans love ANY excuse to put on a costume and booze/dance the night or day away. From SantaCon to the Folsom Street Fair, I’ve done my fair share of putting on crazy outfits and makeup to party like everyone else. This past weekend’s Edwardian Ball may have been one of the best productions in entertainment and libations with the perfect amount of weird…if you even want to call it that.

I spent the last two nights at the Regency Ballroom in a Cinderella-inspired, peacock-feathered outfit. I made friends with Edwardian Ball OGs and newbies who just wanted to put on a top hat and ballroom dance the night away. I saw some amazing theatrical performances where live music, acrobatics and impressive sets came into play. I saw people playing with steam-powered machines and getting their tarot cards read. And I saw people of all ages finding nooks within the Ballroom to play, chat and let the magic of the night wash over them.

There’s no real way to explain the beauty and mysticism of the Edwardian Ball. But I’ll let these photos give you just a small glimpse into the enchantment of the evening.

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Until next year!

 

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: A Gem Not To Miss

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Scuba divers will absolutely love this story. Keep reading…

Written by and photos by Michael A.

We often don’t lump Mexico in as being an exciting international getaway destination. You need to stop this mindset immediately. Born and raised in Los Angeles, but a mere three-hour drive away from the Mexican border, I too was a culprit of this belief. I love my food and I love me some good international travel. I’ve traveled to roughly 40 countries, and other than a brief stint where I got stranded in Tijuana with a donkey painted zebra, I never had any intention of really making a vacation out of Mexico. However, I was absolutely blown away by the food, scuba diving, clear waters, and most importantly, how incredibly affordable Playa Del Carmen is.

Where to stay

The pool at Hacienda Real del Caribe in Playa del Carmen.
The pool at Hacienda Real del Caribe in Playa del Carmen.

For just $33 a night (yes you read that correctly), I’d recommend staying at Hacienda Real del Caribe. It has a beautiful salt-water pool and very spacious rooms. I’m a big fan of flat screen TV’s, which it was lacking, but the location of this hotel is just so perfect that you’ll forget all about that detail. This hotel is literally one block away from all of the night life, a plethora of great restaurants, and only a 5-minute walk to the beach. Ummmm, I think I also mentioned that it was $33 a night…so, yeah…if you’re on a budget, this is an amazing place to go.

A scuba diver’s paradise

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Cozumel constantly gets all of the hype for being one of the most amazing diving spots in the world (and rightfully so), but you have to make sure you don’t miss the Cenotes. I’ve been on some cool dives in the past, but the Cenotes….well….just look at these pictures for yourself. You won’t see much sea life down there, but the colors and the fact that you’re 35 feet under the surface of Earth is a pretty cool and special feeling in its own right. You are literally below the bottom of tree roots.

Ditch Cozumel and stay in Playa Del Carmen

The best chile relleno I've ever had.
The best chile relleno I’ve ever had.

Don’t make the mistake that my buddy and I made and get a hotel on this island. There really isn’t all that much going on there other than the best chile relleno you could possibly imagine! Cozumel is known world-wide as being one of the top dive locations in the world because of its ridiculously clear waters and visibility. However, I strongly suggest just staying in Playa Del Carmen and paying the extra $5-10 to the dive shop to take you to some diving out there. If you really want to spend some time on the island, it’s literally a $20 35-minute boat ride that leaves every hour from two different ports in Playa Del Carmen. Don’t bother renting a car either, since you won’t see very much other than the port and undeveloped areas.

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Don’t touch the Lionfish…

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Do make sure that you go on some dives out there though as the swim-throughs are spectacular and plentiful. If you go within the next couple of years, be ready to see a lot of Lionfish and don’t be an idiot like me and get too close. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they are also extremely poisonous. Enjoy them from afar but don’t try to take that coveted selfie with one. Your underwater selfie can wait until you’ve entered one of the very few shipwrecks in the area. Look for the slightly dirty restroom and make sure you keep your eyes open for some of the biggest eels you’ve ever seen hanging underneath the cracks of the floorboards.

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Overall, Playa Del Carmen is definitely a place you don’t want to miss. The food is great, the stay is cheap, and there is beauty all around you — and under you in the case of the Cenotes.

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The Edwardian Ball in SF is this weekend!

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Get lost this weekend at The Edwardian Ball.

Written by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Marco Sanchez

For someone who has slight ADD when it comes to the weekend, I love having a calendar booked with concerts, special meals and day trips. But sometimes a girl’s gotta keep her weekend open and fill it up spontaneously with totally outrageous, typically San Francisco things. It was Tuesday night and I was getting slightly antsy because my weekend was barren. After checking out a couple of my favorite SF weekly calendars, I stumbled upon one of the most exciting events that I knew I had to check out: The Edwardian Ball.

After seeing some stunning photography from past events, I immediately signed up to cover the event. This Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23, marks the 16th Edwardian Ball in SF. Expect a whimsical festival filled with steampunk enthusiasts, vintage fetish lovers, circus acts, live music and more spiked with Neo-Victorian and Edwardian-era Gothic imagery. Set within the Regency Ballroom, the two-day fest is inspired by macabre cult author, illustrator, cartoonist and comic artist, Edward Gorey. Think Lemony Snicket, Edward Scissorhands and the Addams Family and you’ve got yourself a pretty picture of what to expect when you walk in.

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San Franciscans love any excuse to get dressed up. Show ‘em what you’ve got this weekend at The Edwardian Ball.

If you need any excuse for an ornate costume party this weekend, you need to check out The Edwardian Ball.

Along with seeing fellow San Francitizens dressed to the nines, you can expect steam-powered creations, parlour games, absinthe cocktails, a photobooth, mythical creatures performing throughout the venue, and a vendor bazaar where you can find a last minute Edwardian-inspired costume or accessory.

Friday marks The Edwardian World’s Faire and Saturday will showcase The Edwardian Ball. Whether you want to spend your evening in fantastical lands, try your hand at ballroom dancing, or just sit back and enjoy the crazy beautiful performances, this festival is not to be missed. Entertainment varies on both days so do yourself a favor and buy a two-day pass.

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See you there!

Also, make sure to check out The Mystic Midway: Stories of Gold. This interactive game takes guests throughout the Ballroom’s three floors where they’ll hear stories from all kinds of creatures and be awarded for deeds with trinkets and surprises.

Each evening starts at 8 p.m. with the Vendor Bazaar open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For tickets and more information, visit www.edwardianball.com.

We’ll see you there!

 

Alcatraz Night Tour is for history buffs and thrillseekers

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Alcatraz is definitely less busy, yet more eerie, late at night.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

I take pride in myself as being the token friend my peeps go to when it comes to the following phrase: “Hey, I’m going to this place and need off-the-beaten-path recommendations on where to go and what to see and eat.”

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If you’re easily spooked like me, don’t get separated from your group.

That being said, when I got the invitation from one of my girls from back home to go to Alcatraz while she was in town, I had some mixed feelings (sorry Brandie!!). Taking a ferry to check out Alcatraz conjures up images of silly shirts that say “Alcatraz Swim Team” or weird and boring tours led by overly-enthusiastic guides. But, I had the chance to take the Alcatraz Night Tour and it was pretty freaking fun. All of my biased expectations were thrown out the window…And into the chilly waters of the Bay.

If you’re even remotely thinking of visiting Alcatraz while you’re in town, you better get your tickets early. Time slots to visit “The Rock” sell out like hotcakes and it may be nearly impossible if you’re trying to buy tickets for a day out. You can visit the island throughout the day, but I recommend you enjoy the city by day and line up for the Alcatraz Night Tour around sundown.

The ride to Alcatraz is quick so make sure you grab a seat upstairs and outside for the best view. Once you disembark, you’ll be guided on a semi-steep walk up to the entrance into the cell house through the shower house. Grab a pair of headphones and start the self-guided walking tour, available in 11 languages.

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Take a seat in the Library at Alcatraz.
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Beauty in the details. The hospital walls inside Alcatraz.

The story of Alcatraz is pretty unbelievable and the audio tour is about 45 minutes. It’s all self-paced so if you want to spend some extra time learning about famous inmates or at “The Hole,” you can do that too. Make some time to check out the hospital, which is not part of the audio tour, and see what other programs and presentations are on the schedule.

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Check out the daily schedule for programs, like prisoner escape stories and cell door demos.

While the Gardens of Alcatraz won’t be visible at night, thrill seekers will definitely appreciate the extra time they have peering around the cell block avenues, the library and dining hall. Alcatraz, which spans over 12 acres, is definitely something to experience in person, even for a skeptical like me. While it may look extremely touristy from the outside — or the mainland — it’s definitely something worth checking out at night.

For more information, visit http://www.alcatrazcruises.com.

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Get lost on the rock…