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Fun Fitness Finds Beyond Yoga


Coastal North County has turned into a yoga Mecca over the last five to ten years. This is especially true in Encinitas, where there are over 20 places that offer regular yoga classes, not including beach yoga or private yoga sessions. 


It would seem that yoga isn’t a fly-by-night fitness fad like step aerobics, Tae-Bo, Jazzercise, or, as perhaps remains to be seen, the Latin hybrid of music and dance called Zumba. Yoga is here to stay in the holistically health conscious coastal communities. But how do some studios differentiate themselves from the myriad of other yoga boutiques?


Stillpoint BodyLounge is the newest holistic health facility to offer daily yoga classes. Located in downtown Encinitas, Stillpoint has also added fun fitness classes like hoop dancing, belly dancing, and laughter yoga. 


Exercise with a hula hoop has evolved since the 1950s. Today’s hooping incarnation is much more dynamic and sexy, says Stillpoint’s hoop instructor, Michelle Bouvier, who is the co-founder of HoopNectar. Her class, Amritam Hoopdance, “helps people connect with their ‘nectar’ by teaching different technical tricks, combinations, and movements that teach the body to naturally flow with the hoop and with life.” 


Hoopdancing also improves coordination, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility, she says. “It’s a workout, meditation, and play all at the same time.” Bouvier promises her class will tone the body, quiet the mind, develop mind-body connection, and create a sense of playfulness we all yearn for. 


Stillpoint will also offer Laughter Yoga classes beginning in June. Madan Kataria, MD developed laughter yoga in 1995 and today there are over 6,000 laughter clubs. Combining deep belly breathing exercises with laughter, this class, believe it or not, has the potential to burn lots of calories.


“Laughter yoga provides an excellent aerobic workout and is the only exercise that positively and directly impacts your body, mind, and emotions,” says Kataria’s Web site. “Ten minutes of hearty laughter causes our body to release a cocktail of hormones and neuropeptides that could cost thousands of dollars over the counter,” adds Kataria.


Says Sharon Cassius, co-owner of Stillpoint, “I guarantee that Laughter Yoga will be a lot more fun than pedaling away on a stationary bicycle.” Stillpoint, adds Cassius, also offers prenatal yoga classes as well as yoga classes for children. (760/479-9890, www.stillpointbodylounge.com)


Another alternative to monotonous fitness classes is one you won’t want to bring the kids to — pole dancing. Starting this month, MeYoMa, a belly dance and meditation studio in Leucadia, will offer the class.


“I’m going to bring it out of the strip clubs and into the holistic health community,” says owner Teri Arenz, who will be the instructor. “It’s my intention to get women to love their bodies no matter what their body composition is and to express their goddess within,” says Arenz. Pole dancing’s benefits, she says, include creating core strength and improving rhythm and coordination.


“I’m going to offer pole dancing on Friday evenings as an alternative to the traditional happy hour,” says Arenz, who also offers a kids’ belly dancing class. (760/942-9642, www.meyoma.com)    JUDD HANDLER



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