Exercise and the South Bay have an unyielding relationship. Yoga studios
thrive on nearly every block, and rarely does a weekend pass without a
local 5- or 10-kilometer race to run on Saturday morning. The South
Bay is blessed with sunny and warm days most of the year, which provides
endless opportunities to get out of the house with our families and be
active. This is a good thing, of course, because an active lifestyle is
linked to longer life expectancy. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also promote an active lifestyle as a way to reduce the risk of heart
disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and several forms of cancer.
Although flowing to Ujjayi breath in yoga and running the hills of Palos
Verdes have been popular exercise options in the South Bay for quite a
while, a few workout options gained popularity over the last year or so.
Read on to find out more about how your neighbors are breaking a sweat.
All-inclusive gyms around the South Bay offer indoor cycling classes where
members are led by a certified group fitness instructor through a full
workout on a stationary bicycle. Indoor cycling classes are very popular
among residents, and the workout is gaining loyal followers. In addition
to the larger gyms, over the last year and a half, a few boutique workout
facilities that focus almost solely on indoor cycling opened locally and
are experiencing success.
JJ Hendershot, group fitness manager at Equinox in Palos Verdes, teaches
indoor cycling classes that fill up a half-hour before class begins and
quite regularly include a waiting list of members-just in case someone
who signed up can't get to the gym and a spot becomes available.
"Cycle classes are a ton of cardio," says Hendershot. "Most
people start riding because they are looking at the class as a quick and
effective way to lose weight. As they continue, they recognize that cycle
classes increase cardiovascular endurance, build muscle, tone legs
and release endorphins. And as students become even more advanced, they
are able to tone triceps and shoulders, increase back and abdominal strength
and build mental fortitude."
Hendershot explains that when done correctly, students are able to maintain
an optimal heart rate for an extended period of time. The workout is both
safe and effective for a range of populations.
"As with any workout, the effectiveness of the workout equates directly
to the investment made by the student. Bikes equipped with a console gauging
watts (a measure of power) or miles per hour give the rider direct feedback,
which allows for a minute-by-minute assessment of effort. Those who want
to see a change in their ability and body can use the monitor to push
past current levels in a safe, measurable and effective way."
If you're worried that you'll need fancy equipment or need to already
be in shape for such a great workout-don't be. "I have 16-year-olds,
80-year-olds, women who are nine months pregnant and students who are
rehabbing injuries in my classes. Indoor cycling is a workout that is
safe for most, given that you can increase or decrease the tension on
the wheel and slow down or pick up pace to individualize your workout.
Unless your doctor is concerned from an exertion or range of motion standpoint,
cycling is an exercise for all bodies," says Hendershot.
You also do not need cycling shoes to ride on a stationary bike. Most
gyms and studios have "triple link pedals," which means you
can ride in regular shoes with a cage on the pedal, or in SPD or Look
cleats. However, Hendershot does recommend investing in a pair of cycling
shoes if you plan on attending cycling classes weekly. She explains that
you will be able to pull up on the pedals in a cycling shoe rather than
just pushing down on the pedals.
Indoor cycling is a great training method for anyone who is interested
in riding outdoors on a bike. Most stationary indoor cycling bikes
are modeled after a road bike. Although crank length, seat size and handlebar
design are different, the overall workout is a great way to train for
the outdoors. "Many of us ride indoors when we can't get outside
on our bikes. Or perhaps we just need a group of hot sweaty people, an
instructor yelling at us and some pumping music to motivate us here and
there," says Hendershot.
Indoor cycling classes are full of people who are looking to improve their
physical fitness, whether it is cardiovascular fitness, fat loss
or even training for an Ironman or marathon. "Every person, regardless
of their individual goals, benefits from every class because it has become
truly accessible to all. And everyone can be successful from day one!"
PiYo is a workout that blends basic Pilates exercises with yoga poses.
The class is designed to improve muscle strength, core stability and balance.
"PiYo delivers strength through balance," says Randy Okuda,
instructor of PiYo classes at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. "It
is a total body workout with a lot of rhythm, and it is a lot of fun."
Okuda explains that PiYo is suited for anyone who wants to strengthen muscles
and improve balance. "My classes are all levels, and modifications
are provided so that students can participate at a level suitable for
their fitness level. However, PiYo is not for anyone who needs assistance
standing or who has serious knee or hip problems."
Star Taylor, a 37-year-old nurse from Lomita, has been taking fitness classes
with Okuda for nearly 10 years. She credits her improved strength and
conditioning to Okuda's classes. "My body seems stronger and
better conditioned- particularly in my core muscles-since I started PiYo.
And this is even after having kids," says Taylor. "PiYo is a
way for workout, and best of all, I always leave feeling good about myself
PiYo certainly gained momentum in 2011. Three people attended Okuda's
first class when it opened a little more than a year ago. Now his class
is almost always at capacity.
Okuda's trick to fast results is simple: "Do as much as you can
within the limits of what your body is telling you to do. Listen to your
body, and do not push through when it tells you that you need to stop."
T'ai chi ch'uan (commonly known as tai chi) is a sophisticated
Chinese exercise for physical and mental well-being. Its history exceeds
1,000 years and represents China's highest cultural expressions. Richard
Goodman is a tai chi instructor who teaches classes throughout the South
Bay including the Center for Healthy Living at Malaga Cove. He has studied,
practiced and taught the exercise for more than 30 years.
"Tai chi is a series of continuous slow, circular movements performed
while alternating the body's weight by shifting back and forth. Gentle,
twisting movements are performed while harmonizing the mind, body, breath
and movement," explains Goodman.
Because the movements in tai chi are gentle and low impact, it is a suitable
workout for everyone, including older adults. According to the National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National
Institutes of Health, people practice tai chi to improve overall
wellness. Specifically this includes physical condition, muscle strength
and coordination. Tai chi also helps those who practice it sleep better,
improve balance and decrease the risk of falls, particularly for the elderly.
"Tai chi is becoming better known and more accessible every year in
the South Bay and around the world, primarily due to the generous and
tireless sharing of four generations of the Master Tung family,"
explains Goodman. "They are the primary recipients from the original
founding lineage. Hundreds of long-time students (including myself
) from Master Kai Ying Tung's Academy of T'ai Chi Ch'uan are
privileged to assist him and his son, Master Tung Chen Wei, (both currently
teaching in Los Angeles) in spreading the many personal and social benefits
of this magnificent art."