Cover Stories

Best of Health & Fitness 2013

bo healthCategory: Winner           
Acupuncture: Five  Branches
Aerobics Studio: Santa Cruz Dance Co.
Alternative Health: Well Being Center
Beauty Supply: Westside Beauty Supply
Bike Trail: Wilder Ranch
Botox: Ultra Derm
Class Instructor: Lee Pate
Day Spa: Caress Day Spa
Eyelash Extension: L’Atelier Salon
Facial: TraMi Skin Care
Fitness Center: Toadal Fitness

Golf Course: DeLaveaga
Gymnastic Center: SC. Gymnastics Center
Hair Extensions: Vice
Hair Salon: Vice
Hiking Trail: Nisene Marks
Kickboxing: Farley’s Kickboxing
Laser Hair Removal: Laser Hair & Skin Solutions           
Martial Arts Studio: Rod Sanford Martial Arts
Massage School: Twin Lakes College
Outdoor Sports School: Richard Schmidt Surf Camp
Pilates: Body in Motion
Place to Get Waxed: European Wax Center
Senior Care: In-home Care Comforcare Senior Services
Senior Care-Asst. Living: Dominican Oaks
Stand-up Paddle: Coverwater
Surf School: Richard Schmidt
Surfing Spot: Pleasure Point
Swimming  Pool: Simpkin’s Swim Center
Tanning Salon: Tanner’s Cove
Vitamin Store: Way of Life
Women’s Gym: Curves
Yoga Studio: Aptos Bikram Yoga

Acupuncture/Alternative Health: Five Branches
Nurturing each of its ‘branches’ since its inception in 1984— acupuncture, energetics, herbal medicine, massage and dietetics—Five Branches has flourished over the years to harbor two campuses, and nine programs, and are see more than 160 patients a day. For clinic visits, student and senior rates are available. 476-8211,

Runners-up: Flux, Communi-Qi, Life’s Essence

Aerobics Instructor/Class Instructor: Lee Pate (Zumba)
Why Lee Pate’s classes—a whopping total of 18 per week, between Zumba and R.I.P.P.E.D—are the best:  1) Her sensitivity: “I am hyper-diligent that people feel welcome. I emphasize that none of my classes are precision classes; I don’t mind if you step touch the whole time in the back.” 2) Her enthusiasm boosts morale: “I’m like a Prozac … in a high-energy way.” 3) Impeccable music: “I choose to dance to what moves me.” For more information, visit and the “Zumba with Lee!” Facebook page.

Runners-up: (Aerobics) Joy Smith. TIE: Chris Checci (Jazzercise) & Abi Heartsel; (Class) Victor Dubin (Nourish), TIE: Danielle Kellen &  Joy Smith

Aerobics Studio: Santa Cruz Dance Company
Owner and program director Joy Smith works directly with Zumba Fitness LLC, and is responsible for training and licensing all Zumba instructors in Northern California. “We call [Zumba] ‘exercise in disguise,’” notes Smith. “We have students who have lost anywhere from 15 to 100 pounds. It is easy to make [into] a lifestyle because it is so darn fun.” No danger in trying, as the first class is always free for Santa Cruz locals. 479-4700,

Runners-up: Toadal Fitness, TIE: In-Shape & Jazzercise

Alternative Health: Well Being Center
The Soquel-based holistic center aims to get to the bottom of whatever ails you through low-force NSA chiropractic services, exercises, classes and workshops to move past pain and make life-long improvements. “What differentiates us is we’re not just taking care of the biomechanics of the body at all,” explains owner John Amaral. “We’re taking care of how the mind and body interplay and all the patterns that show up around what is going on in your life, and how they get mapped out onto the body.” 475-2448,

Runners-up: Awaken Massage Therapy, TIE: Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine and Chi Center & Nourish

Bike Trail: Wilder Ranch
Beating out Nisene Marks this year, this is one of the top mountain biking destinations in the Bay Area. Once a working ranch in the 1850s, Wilder offers riders gorgeous views and challenging rides. 423-9703,

Runners-up: Nisene Marks, UCSC, Westcliff

Beauty Supply: Westside Beauty Supply
Locally owned and stocked with an abundant supply of beauty and health care products—shampoos, skin care and much more. Added bonus: It also offers everything from facials and waxing to haircuts and up-dos. 459-8450,

Runners-up: Cosmoprof, Bubble Lounge

Botox: UltraDerm
“I really love helping women explore the issues around aging; it happens to all of us, [so it’s] fun to connect with women that way,” says UltraDerm’s Clinical Director, Kim Calerdine, adding that “men are really a growing clientele with botox and fillers,” affectionately referring to botox for men as “Brotox.” UltraDerm—whose owner/Medical Director is the award-winning plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Garner—has been in business since 2000 and is most popular for facelifts. 475-4315,

Runners-up: Dr. Alexis Lane, Monterey Bay Laser, Dr. Rebecca Small

Day Spa: Caress Day Spa
Caress’ owner, Margot, believes self-care to be essential because “it helps reduce stress, it helps you sleep better, and it [keeps you in] an all-around more relaxed state.” Three things to consider having done here: facials, massages, and body treatments—get goddess-glowing skin this summer via the 60-minute sea salt and citrus oils-infused Citrus Body Scrub. 462-4422,

Runners-up: Well Within, Serene Skin & Body, Santa Cruz Skin Solutions

Facial: Trami Skin Care
Esthetician extraordinaire Trami says that “self-care from the inside-out matters—[from] your personal to your professional life—[in order] to succeed.” In other words, “It’s how you present yourself to the world.”Three things to consider here: 1) Anti-aging facials. 2) Sugaring hair removal—less painful than waxing; begins in May! 3) Chemical peels (a deeper exfoliation process than getting a facial). Check out the May 7 Mother’s Day open house (4:30-6:30 p.m. RSVP required). [email protected] 239-2795,

Runners-up: Santa Cruz Skin Solutions, Serene Skin & Body, Jenny Hoye

Best Eyelash Extension: L’Atelier
Owner Jenna McClure’s Downtown portal continues to transform. This year, it nabs Best Eyelash Extension, thanks to three skilled lash extensionists: Amanda Hall, Mara Charron and Olivia Barney (also the spa coordinator). There are three levels of intensity for lash extensions: “Flirt” (the most subtle), “Classic,” and “Bombshell” (the most dramatic look; recommended for special occasions). 423-4247,

Runners-up: Bella Dawna, Serene Skin

Fitness Center: Toadal Fitness
Five locations and plenty of fitness goals. Tyler Brotherton, the general manager of the downtown branch, says: “We know everyone by first name and we’re invested in their goals and their interests.” Looking for a new workout? Try “Piloxing”: an invigorating kickboxing/pilates hybrid.

Runners-up: In-Shape, Crossfit West, Santa Cruz Strength

bo health golfGolf Course: DeLaveaga
City-owned/operated and family-run. Chief Administrator Jamie Loustalot refers to her family’s course as an idyllic “hidden jewel [that] we want people to know more about”; for many locals who already do know about DeLaveaga, Loustalot believes these regulars frequently return because “when you play up here, you feel like you are part of a community.” In May, DeLaveaga hosts Wine Down Wednesdays for women, taking place every Wednesday in May and August. 423-7214,

Runners-up: Seascape, Pasatiempo, Spring Hills

In the early 1500s, Scottish clubmaker Robert Forgan imported hickory from America to manufacture shafts. Today, clubs are über sleek. As for DeLavega, more than 50,000 rounds of golf are played annually.

DeLaveaga boasts plenty of perks, such as Women’s Wine Down Wednesdays, beginning May 1. Did you know: There are more than 6 million female golfers in the U.S.? As for this portion of the club’s anatomy (The Hosel) … it leads you down to the sole.

That’s what this area of the club is called. Meanwhile DeLaveaga impresses with numerous membership options.

Step one: Factor in the millions of golfers in the U.S. Next: Multiply it by demand. Draw a line under it and the sum of balls used in the U.S. hovers at about a billion.

Gymnastics Center: Santa Cruz Gymnastic Center
It celebrates its 40th birthday this year so take note: It offers unmatched recreational camps for kids and teens, preschool programs, beginning and advanced homeschool courses, even birthday parties that are sure to be the topic of conversation for countless years to follow, with features like a bouncey house, foam pit, and Winston the Wonder Whale: an under the sea-theme inflatable. 462-0655,

Runners-up: Vargas Academy, June Bugs Gym

Hair Salon/Hair Extensions/Locally owned business: VICE
Owner/Santa Cruz native Whitney Matthews continues to impress in Capitola. Cuts for women start at $45; men’s cuts begin as low as $30. Kevin Murphy hair care—plant and flower-derived and not tested on animals—is their main line. For extensions, Whitney has been doing the safe I-Link method for about eight years. VICE also has a well-stocked candy bar, plus snacks, coffee and alcohol (for those of age). “We try and go above and beyond for everyone,” says Whitney. 464-1700,

Runners-up (Hair Salon) Salon on the Square, L’Atellier, Lavish (Hair Extension) Leilani @Luscious & Duke, Platinum Lounge (Locally-owned Business) Shopper’s Corner, TIE: Bookshop Santa Cruz & Nourish, New Leaf Community Market

Laser Hair Removal: Laser Hair & Skin Solutions
Owned by Board Certified physician/surgeon Dr. James Kojian, and managed by Karen Welsh, who are both highly-esteemed professionals in the Botox and dermal fillers-related world due to their precision and compassion for countless clients. 689-9830.

Runners-up: Serene Skin & Body, Dermesse

Hiking Trail: Nisene Marks
Currently celebrating 50 years as a state park, so make it your mission to find “The Curly-Cue Forest,” a grove of mysterious, twisted, trippy redwoods off of the Old Growth Loop. In the words of Sandy “the History Dude” Lydon, the patch is “totally cool. It’s like we know everything, but really we don’t know anything. It’s like the trees are here to torment us, to tease us.”

Runners-up: Pogonip Lookout Trail, Wilder Ranch, Fall Creek

bo health kickKickboxing: Farley’s Kickboxing Academy
Three reasons why Farley’s is the superlative spot to get your kickboxing fix, according to part-owner Christian Pellecchia (who also teaches teens Kickboxing and Grappling):  1) We have the best coaches. 2) We have the best facility in the country. 3) We offer the most diverse types of classes—[those] for the everyday people, for people who want a rigorous workout, and people who aspire to be professional fighters. Farley’s will host their latest set of amateur fights, better known as Showdown In Surftown, on June 22. 600-7160,

Runners-up: Lightspeed Martial Arts, Minorsan

Massage School: Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts
Here, locals and residents of the Bay Area learn all there is to know about massage, doula, aromatherapy, and hypnotherapy, allowing them to have the tools necessary to start up their own successful business and spread serenity to others. 476-2152,

Runners-up: Cypress health institute, Five Branches

Outdoor Sports School/Surf School: Richard Schmidt Surf Camps
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Richard Schmidt has been teaching since he was an 18-year-old beach lifeguard. “I have a lot of passion for surfing personally; it keeps you healthy, cleanses your mind, and to be able to share that in a place like Santa Cruz has been a real pleasure, to be out there all the time and watch people catch their first waves and see the smiles on their faces.” To register for a surf lesson, call 423-0928. For other details, visit

Runners-up: (Outdoor Sports School) Santa Cruz Composite Team & Adventure Out (Surf School) Santa Cruz Surf School, Adventure Sports, Club Ed

Martial Arts Studio: Rod Sanford Traditional Martial Arts
Whether you’re interested in a detailed kids karate plan (starting as young as age 4), adult karate (master traditional karate moves from an incredible black-belt “Sensei” team) or a program designed to strip you of your stress (Tai Chi), look no further than R.S.T.M.A. to make and maintain a powerful body and mind. Limited time offer: Try Tai Chi, free, for two weeks, by registering with the studio before the end of this month. 475-9676,

Runners-up: Elite Martial Arts, LightSpeed Martial Arts, Kaijin

PILATES: Body in Motion
Body in Motion owner Dominique Lesperance says self-care is key “for quality of life—to be able to conduct your daily activities [and] have your body work for you, functionally, the way it’s supposed to. People take that for granted. We help people find that again.” B.I.M. has more classes scheduled per week than any other pilates studio in the county (over 40!). 685-1779,

Runners-up: Sarah K. Artha Negara, Pleasure Point Pilates, Agile Monkey Pilates Studio

Place to Get Waxed: European Wax Center
One reason clients keep returning, according to Manager Christina Bright: “We provide an ultimate wax experience [with an] exclusive wax designed specifically for our company—Comfort Wax—a stripless, hard wax made for people with sensitive skin” (also alcohol-free and made out of beeswax).  E.W.C. also offers a complimentary service for first-time waxes. Ladies, this means you’ll receive a free bikini line, underarm, or eyebrow wax; for men, a free eyebrow, ears, or nose wax. 477-9331,

Runners-up: Santa Cruz Skin Solutions, Smooth, Bella Dawna

Senior Care Services: In-home Care ComForcare Senior Services
During the mid-’90s, ComForcare had its humble beginnings in Michigan. Now, the company has more than 160 locations scattered throughout North America and the U.K., with its mission statement resonating louder than ever: “to improve the quality of life and level of independence for every client and family receiving our services.” 427-1553,

Runners-up: Care From The Heart, Visiting Angels

Senior Care Services: (Assisted Living) Dominican Oaks
Dominican Oaks is situated in a calm and charming building behind Dominican Hospital, and its staff certainly do their best to keep every resident happy, comfortable, and safe—thanks to their laundry service, 24-hour security, tasty food, beauty salon and much more. Dominican Oaks also has your social life in mind, hosting regular events such as bingo, birthday parties, and champagne socials. 462-6257,

Runners-up Aegis, Sunshine Villa, Oak Tree

Stand-up Paddle: Covewater Paddle
As a way to promote ocean stewardship, this stand-up paddle boarding hub gives 10 percent off of accessories in their shop to contributing members of Save Our Shores, SurfAid International, O’Neill Sea Odyssey, and the Surfrider Foundation. 600-7230,

Runners-up: Stand-up Paddle Shack, Kayak Connection

Swimming Pool: Simpkins Family Swim Center
The 18-lane lap pool, the most impressive-sized lap pool in Santa Cruz County, is quite agreeable at 78 degrees. Renowned for its variety of group swim lessons, S.F.S.C. now offers private swim lessons as well. Other programs available through Simpkins: lifeguard training courses, SuperKid Triathlon training, and classes on how to combat arthritis. 454-7946,

Runners-up: Harvey West, UCSC

Tanning Salon: Tanner’s Cove
First-rate customer service, a clean, well-kept environment, custom airbrushing (UV-free), and low/medium/high pressure beds stand out.  What Tanner’s manager Lynzy thinks you should know: They’re currently running a VIP Special. For $25, this six-month contract gives you unlimited tanning, 20 percent off all tanning products, and the option to tan at both of the Capitola and Scotts Valley locations (the latter has a brand new, deluxe spray tan booth). 475-8267.

Runners-up: Glimmer & Glow, Paradise Tan, Smoothe

Surfing Spot: Pleasure Point
What’s not to like? When you think Santa Cruz, Steamers Lane often comes to mind, but this idyllic surf spot continues to garner your votes. Why? It hasn’t been dubbed “one of NorCal’s best breaks with a perfect wave for just about every kind of surfer” for nothing. Ride one soon. Eastside.

Runners-up: Cowells, Steamers Lane

Vitamin Store: Way of Life
Natural health supplements, eco-friendly skin care,  handcrafted jewelry and toys for kids all stand out here—plus an excellent sports nutrition area. Main thing that keeps people coming back, according to Lead Supplement Buyer/Supplement Manager Cynthia Moger: “We are very customer service-oriented. We are the only [health shop] in Santa Cruz County that provides free service: a 15-minute consultation with our practitioner. It sets us apart from the other stores.” 464-4113,

Runners-up: Staff of Life, Vitamin Center, The Herb Room

Women’s Gym: Curves
One of the biggest draws to this women’s gym is its combined attention to exercise and nutrition; Curves Complete is a thorough physical training program, equipped with a meal plan and one-on-one coaching.

Runners-up: Toadal Fitness, In-Shape

Yoga Studio: Aptos Bikram Yoga
This happening yoga studio has developed a big following in the county and boasts one of the sleekest, modern yoga portals around. Take note of special deals for new students. You can enjoy more than two dozen classes here in a week’s time—and all in a room that is heated up to more than 100 degrees. The studio also has some stellar yoga pros here that have travelled around and won accolades. Nice job. 661-5030,

Runners-up: Divinitree, Nourish, Village Yoga

Contributors: Greg Archer, Elizabeth Limbach, Cynthia Orgel, Jenny Simeone

Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX
| Critics Picks | Shops | Food & Drink | Arts & Entertainment | Health & Fitness | Professionals | The Rest |

To Top