From Beautify Yourself

ClassPass San Francisco classes to help shed that pesky holiday weight

Lands end labyrinth
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

Salt barre classes in SF
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!

Ritual Hot Yoga in SOMA: For lovers of sweaty yoga and sick beats

ritual2

Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos courtesy of Ritual Hot Yoga

I think I’m closing in on my eight or nine year anniversary of practicing yoga. I go to yoga to clear my head; to stretch and get a work out in; to get grounded; and to give myself an hour everyday to find balance and breathe. But my workouts, and my life, completely changed once I started practicing hot yoga. I first discovered it in Encinitas maybe four or five years ago and I’m so grateful to have found it.

There’s something so gratifying about seeing your body literally pour out sweat while you’re moving to the beats with your breath. It’s hard to explain but if you’re a yogi like me, you just get it. I found my yoga home at Corepower Yoga in Encinitas. Everyday that I went truly felt like I was going home. My teachers supported me in and out of class, with physical adjustments and words that resonated with me and where I was at in life that very exact moment.

Life has taken me on a crazy journey these last few years and the only constant was my yoga practice.

I’ve since found my yoga home in the City at Corepower SF and I love all of my instructors. This studio is blocks from my office and it’s where I run to when I need some peace. This month I decided to mix things up a bit and check out this hot yoga studio that I’ve had my eye on for several months.

I first found out at Ritual Hot Yoga on Instagram; somehow we found each other on the social media wave. I was reminded of them again when one of my favorite Instagram-famous yogis mentioned her practice at the studio. It was destiny. I had to check these guys out.

ritual1

Ritual Hot Yoga is located in SOMA around the corner from the headquarters of tech powerhouses like Airbnb and Pinterest. The studio looks modest from the outside but once you step inside, everything you could possibly need or want is at your fingertips.

This is the first time I’ve been a member at one of those fancy, all-inclusive studios. All you have to do is bring yourself. A mat, a yogitoes towel, hand towel, block and mat clips are all provided and set up in the studio when you arrive. Sip on some tea, check your Instagram with their free wifi, or play with the studio dogs if they’re hanging out. Bottled water is available, as well as showers and every bathroom amenity is available for use before or after class.

Classes at Ritual aren’t like your average yoga practice. Step inside the huge, heated room and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally bumping into your neighbor as mats are perfectly spaced from each other. Classes are held in dark, candlelit rooms so you’ll really have to force yourself to be present, without staring at others or yourself in the mirror. The faint smell of Nag Champa wafts through the air.

Instructors are hooked up to mics and each class begins with a guided meditation about the week’s theme and purpose. Then the party starts. Music booms through the speakers so if you’re into mellow classes, this place not be right for you. The music selection is so on point. Feel like moving your booty to some old school jams or hip hop? This place might just top all of the clubs in the area.

Sometimes you’ll try out a yoga class and you’ll feel like your teacher is just going through the motions and reading from a script while teaching. But all of the instructors I’ve had at Ritual add their own personality to class, whether they’re bouncing around and dancing during class, or sharing intimate stories about their struggles and their life. All of the instructors at Ritual Hot Yoga are amazing.

Classes are 50 minutes so it’s perfect if you need a lunch time break from the office. There’s one to two adjusters in every class so you’ll definitely get some hands-on love if you want it. Oh, and the adjusters come by and offer neck and shoulder massages during meditation and savasana. Swoon! A cold towel is placed on your forehead during your final rest and believe me when I say this will be one of the best parts of class after getting your booty whooped during this fast-paced class.

As crazy, busy and transient as city life can be, I somehow always find a way to find my yoga home. Ritual Hot Yoga is definitely a place I could see myself spending a lot of time at this year. If you live in the City and are looking to spice up your workout regimen, check these guys out. And tell them I sent you. For more information, visit http://www.studioritual.com/.

 

olympic spa salt room

Olympic Spa in Koreatown: Where ladies get scrubbed, buffed and puffed

Written by Nadia Ibanez

Warning: This post is not intended for the conservative, demure, modest or perverted.

There are several benefits of being a woman: That whole child birth thing, the ability to get free things with the bat of an eyelash…that’s just the beginning. But one of my favorite things of being of the female gender are women-only day spas. There’s something so exciting about spending a couple hours or the entire day among femininity, beautiful women, plush robes and spa services. This past weekend, I spent the afternoon at the Olympic Spa in Koreatown.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would she go all the way to Koreatown, Los Angeles for a spa day? Not only are beauty services cheaper in these neighborhoods, but it’s the only place you can actually visit an all-natural Korean Day Spa.

These spas aren’t like others and they’re not for the weary. One of the requirements to enter into these spas is public nudity. So if that’s something that skeeves you out, I suggest you take a look at our other beauty and wellness stories.

If you’ve never heard of a Korean Day Spa, here’s the gist. You sign in, are assigned a locker and are required to take a shower before you start any service or enter into any of the public spaces. Most of these spas have a number of cold and hot tubs, relaxation lounges, saunas and steam rooms. You can opt for a Day Pass, giving you all access to the aforementioned locales, or you can splurge on a traditional Korean spa service that will leave you squeaky clean and a bit in awe of the nude experience.

olympic spa salt room
The Himalayan Salt Room at Olympic Spa. Photo courtesy of CBS Local Los Angeles

After spending a few hours baking in the sun at the Taste LA (more about that foodie fest later), I was in desperate need of a place to cool off, unwind and prep for that evening’s event. Let me start the story with this: For $100, I spent four hours getting scrubbed, soaked, buffed and puffed. FOUR HOURS.

I initially had the idea that I’d just go for the Day Pass and relax in the tubs and saunas for a couple hours, but their spa service menu was calling my name. I locked in an appointment and had about two and a half hours to kill before my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment.

After dropping my things off in the locker and putting on my robe, I headed straight to the showers. The idea is that you’re supposed to be pure and clean before entering any of the steam rooms or tubs. It’s actually seen as poor form and bad manners if you don’t rinse off first. And trust me when I say that I desperately needed a rinse down.

If naked women – of every age, ethnicity and shape – make you nervous, this isn’t the place for you. Boobs, butts, vaginas and bushes are everywhere. There’s no getting around it. You’ll see boobs of all sizes, small butts and big butts, 1980’s bushes and well-manicured nether regions. And given that this spa is in fact located in Los Angeles, you’ll likely see some botched boob jobs too.

So if you can’t be naked and accept your body, or be around women who embrace their nudity, turn around and go to another shi-shi spa.

olympic spa jade floor
The Jade relaxation lounge has a heated floor, which invites you to take a nap or relax before your service. Photo courtesy of CBS Local Los Angeles.

Olympic Spa has hot tubs, cold tubs, relaxation lounges with jade floors and three different types of saunas all with their own unique offerings. The idea is to go from one tub or sauna to another, alternating between hot and cold, to soften your skin, promote circulation and detoxify. I had my pick of the following:

Warm Mineral Spa for soaking
Cool Waters Pool used to cool down and tighten pores
Jade Steam Room which also emitted the scents ancient herbs through its vents
Hot Mugwort Tea Pool to help boost immune system, detoxify and regulate sleep and menstrual cycles
Dry Red Clay Sauna, which emitted far infrared rays to increase blood circulation, promote better sleep and aid stiff joints
Oxygen Charcoal Sauna, with walls lined with oxygen stones from Korea and a ceiling lined with bichotan charcoal from Japan, the room promotes natural detoxification
Himalayan Salt Sauna, which housed 84 different minerals to aid sinus allergies, relaxation and muscle soreness

After two and a half hours, my number was called by an older Korean woman who was wearing black granny panties and a black sports bra. This is normal attire for Korean spa therapists because they’re constantly splashing warm water on patrons and scrubbing their bodies from head to toe.

I started my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment by lying on a vinyl massage table and getting doused with warm milk. We’re talking milk straight out of the gallon jug from your local grocer. If you’ve never bathed in warm milk, and I’m guessing you haven’t, it’s pretty exhilarating.

Next, I was scrubbed from head to toe and everywhere in between with silk mitts. We’re talking about the knotch behind your knee, behind your ears, up and down your limbs, your belly button, butt crack and your upper thighs. These ladies don’t hold back and they don’t stop at anything less than a smoother-than-a-baby’s-butt softness. I was scrubbed for a second time after the milk bath with a body shampoo that smelled absolutely heavenly.

If you opt for the Akasuri scrub, your spa therapist will use a special solution that will literally scrub all of your dead skin cells off your body and onto the massage table. The treatment can be a bit unsightly so prepare yourself ahead of time.

After a quick rinse off in the nearby shower, I was doused with a blend of jojoba oil and pure clover honey. Needless to say, I wanted to lick myself out of curiosity. She massaged my limbs before flipping me around and rubbing every inch of my achy body. And when you’re on a vinyl-lined table, the flips become much easier and much more comedic. With peppermint oil, she massaged my scalp and applied a pineapple-scented cream to my face before massaging that too.

cucumber maskHand’s down, my favorite part of the treatment was when she applied freshly grated cucumber to my face. The cold veggies on my warm face were stimulating and invigorating and I could tell my face was happily soaking up the much-needed moisture.

Using towels as props underneath my back, she then proceeded to wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner on the table before toweling me off like how my mom used to when I was a little girl. By the end of the hour and a half service, your body feels like a noodle and all you want to do is take a nap. There’s something so sweet about these ladies. Maybe it’s their gentle tone, or their strong hands…or maybe it’s their silly work “uniforms” that make me want to keep coming back.

If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area and have a few hours to kill, I highly suggest you visit Olympic Spa or any Korean Day Spa around town. Throw your modesty out the window, embrace the beauty around you, and give in to the relaxation. For more information, visit http://www.olympicspala.com.

 

 

Salt Santa Barbara

Local shop spotlight: Salt Santa Barbara

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

Salt Santa Barbara
Salt Santa Barbara is just steps below the popular State Street

State St. in Santa Barbara has always been a favorite place of mine to wander the streets, talk to locals, and explore all of the curiosities within this lovely shopping and entertainment destination. I’ve walked these streets a few times with girlfriends and have always enjoyed this beautiful city. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Santa Barbara and while I enjoyed the local farmer’s market, urban wine trail and shopping, I absolutely fell in love with Salt Santa Barbara.

salt cave at Salt Santa Barbara
Inside the main salt cave at Salt Santa Barbara

After spending a full day wine tasting and walking State St., I needed a moment to unwind for a bit before driving the four hours home. While a massage could have sufficed, a visit to Santa Barbara’s own man-made Himalayan salt cave was just what I needed.

salt cave at Salt Santa BarbaraLocated in the heart of State St. Santa Barbara, Salt is a man-made, underground salt cave that took over an abandoned storage area for the surrounding businesses. The caves are crafted from 45 tons of 250 million year old pure Himalayan salt and cost almost a half million dollars to create. Today, you can spend a session in one of the two salt caves, opt for a healing massage or salt scrub, or drop in for a sound healing, meditation, or yoga session in the cave.

Salt Santa Barbara salt lamps
Salt Santa Barbara has salt lamps in every size so that you can bring a bit of this shop home with you.

The air in the cave is saturated with the salt’s micro particles and can be absorbed into the skin and respiratory system. Sessions in the salt cave have been said to cure chronic ailments are heighten’s one’s overall mood and well-being. I had the pleasure of a spending some time in one of the two caves and definitely felt like I could take on the rest of the day afterward.

Inside Salt Santa Barbara
Inside Salt Santa Barbara

If you’re ever in the area and need a place to get away from the noise and movement on State St. Salt is definitely your destination. Even if you’re not in the mood for a salt cave or spa session, Salt offers a number of gifts like cooking salts, salt lamps, soaking salts, and so much more. Drop by, pick up some gifts and stay for a salt cave session. For more information, visit www.saltcavesb.com.

Inside Salt Santa Barbara

Beautify your Locks at Blow Pop Dry Bar

‘Tis the season for gift giving, over-eating, snowman making, and cuddling by the fireplace. From company holiday parties, family gatherings, and gift exchanges with your friends, there are several opportunities to get glammed up for the evening and brave the winter cold in heels and cocktail dresses. One of the newest trends to pop up in our backyard, and with perfect timing this holiday season, is the “Wash and Blow” concept hair salon.

If you have a special event and need to add a little joosh to your look, these dry bars offer blowouts, stylings, and updos, sans any cuts or color. Blow Pop Dry Bar, owned by Mickel Bohi, is the newest addition to the wash, blow and go trend here in San Diego and we absolutely cannot wait to get beautified. Located within the Horton Plaza mall downtown, Blow Pop Dry Bar offers gorgeous blowouts in styles like the Sultry Bardot, Fawcett Flare, and Curls are a Girl’s Best Friend starting at only $30.

Inside Blow Pop Dry Bar

Whether you need a basic blow out, full up do, scalp massage, or even clip-in extensions, Blow Pop Dry Bar has you covered. The super modern space is designed by Mauricio Couturier, who is also the design mastermind behind our favorite watering holes El Camino, Noble Experiment, and Neighborhood. Inspired by Hollywood glamour, the space  uses iconic starlettes as its wallpaper, along with modern streamlined furniture for guests.

We also love that the salon is one of the selected few to carry the Living Proof hair care line co-owned by hair diva herself, Ms. Jennifer Aniston. If you want to bring in your whole group of girlfriends, a private VIP area can be reserved, which is completely separated from the main salon. Or, if you need some hair love at a different location, a Blow Pop On The Go stylist can beautify your locks within a 20 mile range of the salon.

Check out the salon and ask about their free monthly blowout tutorials. For more information, visit www.blowpopdrybar.com.