Best of Marin County 2019: Fitness & Recreation
If you're looking to get fit, or just feeling adventurous, these are the best places to get active.
This year’s annual 2019 Best of Marin County votes are in. We’ve compiled a list of this year’s winners in the fitness category.
BEST BIKE SHOP
With shops all over the Bay Area, including San Rafael and Sausalito, Mike’s has become the de facto place for bike riders and gearheads to catch up on the latest cycling news or just hang out and chat. The pros in the tech department can tell you what will work for your bike (or not) without any sales-y talk, and the organized rides, trade-in program and bike donation drives make them heroes with carbon- neutral enthusiasts of all ages.
There may be a CrossFit option in almost every town, but the X-fitters of Ross Valley vote theirs the best. The varying daily warm-up schedule, the hands-on approach of trainers, the supportive community, and the sparkling-clean equipment come together to make a workout at this San Anselmo gym a positive, nay, rousing experience for diehards as well as newbies.
BEST EQUIPMENT OR ATHLETIC-WEAR STORE
The company’s inspiring mission of empowering women and girls and its status as a certified B Corp (balancing profit with purpose) is on- message for Marin. And the Town Center Corte Madera store’s wide array of styles that travel well and easily transition from workout to workplace have pushed Athleta to the top of voters’ list.
Stop in at the San Rafael location 15 minutes before your first class to have your session customized to your fit- ness level. Then power through your workout in your own way. The comfy cycle seats are beloved by regulars, and the mix of classes, from yoga for cyclists to TRX and other combinations, bring in non-riders, too. Instructors make sure your posture is safely and optimally aligned.
BEST FITNESS CLASSES
Susan Hauser’s own inspiring story of yoga as transformative therapy is one reason her classes are packed to bursting with local celebrities and yogis. The crossover integration of yoga into sculpt, Pilates and Power classes (which balance stretching, strengthening and breath) also helped make the studio a fitness winner.
BEST PERSONAL TRAINER
An instructor at Pelo Fitness and a personal trainer for more than 20 years, Mueller is also a champion triathlete. Dedicated followers appreciate her insistence on proper alignment, and her program, which she calls TriAlign, includes specific therapeutic exercises that stimulate deep postural muscles to allow joints to effortlessly balance.
BEST PILATES STUDIO
Open just over a year, this Novato studio in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center quickly found its footing with specialty classes, including those geared specifically to teens. Traditionalists will also find a range of options, as will seekers of something with a cardio beat. Shout-out to Becky Lang for keeping the instruction interesting and fun.
BEST SPIN STUDIO
The heated, darkened room is calming, help- ing riders focus. The instructors are upbeat and funny, injecting a lighter note. Ardent fans, high on endorphins, are known to wave their towels and sing along to the thumping music.
BEST SUP SHOP
Free morning paddles from this shop along the San Rafael Canal turned stand-up paddle-boarding into a group activity and added a new component to this traditionally solo sport. Meanwhile, the impressive selection of used and new gear, reasonable rental prices, and customer service are what clinched this local fixture’s best-of spot.
BEST SURF SHOP
The longtime yet ever-evolving Mill Valley hangout has a skate ramp and a coffee shop. The newer 2,000-square-foot San Rafael store has all the big skateboarding brands like Thrasher, Vans and Independent; the kids come to scope out the newest wheels, decks and helmets before heading out to ride. Parents dig the small-town community support.
BEST YOGA STUDIO
Three different Marin studios — in Larkspur, Novato and Mill Valley — have created a following of happy yogis. (Larkspur has the chillest vibe, while Mill Valley’s views over Pickleweed Inlet are om-azing.) The instructors rotate among locations, bring- ing their devotion to yoga and a broad mix of body-balancing poses.
BEST FITNESS STUDIO
The music is thumping, the screens are showing your workout stats, the trainers are roaming, and you are doing circuits of treadmill, weights and water-powered rowing machines, a combo that practically ensures that your fitness routine never gets boring. So this is that afterburn fans of this program are talking about.