.Best of Marin 2015: Health and Fitness

The big bad workout


Husband-and-wife Nick Pommier and Stephanie St. Claire are walking advertisements for their business. When I meet St. Claire, she’s holding her second son, Vaughn, who she says is only three weeks old. “People show up, and it works; the results speak for themselves,” Pommier says, explaining why Ross Valley CrossFit has grown into a national fitness craze. Pommier himself is a CrossFit veteran, and got into this “complete functional” form of exercising nearly a decade ago, before opening Ross Valley CrossFit in 2010. It was at that time that St. Claire had just given birth to her first son, Beau. “I wanted to spend more time with my family at home,” Pommier explains. The Ross Valley CrossFit community consists of more than 300 active members who can take any of the nine weekly classes—everything from Olympic lifting to a barbell-free version of high-intensity interval training called IGNITE! For those who are unfamiliar with the CrossFit vernacular, Pommier sums it up as, “the sports of fitness.” St. Claire sums up Ross Valley CrossFit as, “We care about our business and our business is our clients.”

Ross Valley CrossFit

34 Greenfield Ave., San Anselmo, 415/256-9000, rossvalleycrossfit.com

2ND Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael

3RD Bay Club, Corte Madera


Founded in 2006 by Mikyo Riggs, who holds black belts in multiple forms of martial arts, Marin Mixed Martial Arts specializes in practical self-defense training. The studio is unique in that it incorporates a variety of styles—including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, American boxing and wrestling—and molds them into one complete martial art. The staff believes that martial arts are “a system of self-improvement that can help in the studio as well as in everyday life.” So if you feel like learning a thing or two about this particular kind of “art form”—which combines self-defense moves with unwavering patience—stop by and give it a try. “What we learn on the mat, we carry into our everyday lives.”—Mikyo Riggs.

Marin Mixed Martial Arts

222 Greenfield Ave., San Anselmo, 415/456.1557, marinmma.com

2ND San Rafael Martial Arts, San Rafael

3RD The Dojo, Studio of Martial Arts, San Anselmo


Since 1990, Body Kinetics Health Club, a family-owned business with three locations in Marin (Mill Valley, San Rafael and Novato), has been committed to creating inviting neighborhood health clubs by “being your fitness and wellness partner, to educate and inspire you to discover the amazing power of movement and mindfulness so you may transform your own health and well-being.” The club offers a variety of classes, programs, workshops and activities to help transform your body and lifestyle, and employees believe in an integrated approach to fitness and well-being, which encompasses cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, along with mindfulness, good nutrition, rest and recovery and a supportive community.

Body Kinetics Health Club

Three Marin locations, bodykineticsmarin.com

2ND Pilates of Marin, Corte Madera

3RD Pilates ProWorks, Mill Valley


“I was afraid that everybody would be old,” says Barbara, a 90-year-old resident of The Redwoods retirement community. Barbara Solomon, the 13-year reigning CEO explains, “This isn’t an old folks home.” Sitting on 10 acres in Mill Valley, The Redwoods is a community of 340 residents—six of whom are over the age of 100. What began as a humble nonprofit 43 years ago—founded by the Community Church of Mill Valley—has since grown into one of the most highly regarded senior living communities in the country. “We make sure you’re out of the bedroom and into life,” Solomon says with a beaming smile. The Redwoods is nearly done with a $30 million renovation that will result in a new lounge and wellness center, featuring a hot tub, pool and workout equipment.

The Redwoods

40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley, 415/383/2741, theredwoods.org

2ND Smith Ranch Homes, San Rafael

3RD The Tamalpais, Greenbrae


Not all pools are created equal, so if you’re looking for the best place to take a splash, head to the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center. With the warmest, therapeutic indoor pool in Marin County, and a spectacular outside pool with eight lanes for swimming, this place is hard to beat if you’re an aquatics lover. The JCC also has a state-of-the-art fitness center, a community center offering cutting-edge classes, a great café and an auditorium that showcases a wide variety of events. “We are very family-friendly,” says Barbara Rosenstein, operations manager at the fitness center, “and it is a wonderful place to work.” Staff members feel very appreciated and are very happy, and this permeates the atmosphere. And you don’t have to be Jewish to go there—it is open to everyone in the community.

Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael, 415/444-8000, marinjcc.org

2ND Marin YMCA, San Rafael

3RD Rolling Hills Club, Novato


The Mt. Tam Racquet Club knows a thing or two more about the fitness world than just tennis. With a state-of-the-art workout facility, the club also offers a plethora of classes—more than 80 per week—ranging from spin, Zumba, Pilates and yoga. “It’s a club, not a business,” says Rod Heckelman, general manager and tennis director. The club is complete with tennis courts, basketball courts and a swimming pool. Heckelman says that most people have been with the club for more than 30 years—a testament to its popularity. Mt. Tam Racquet Club is also heavily involved in the community, donating the facility to Redwood High School every year for its Safe and Sober Grad Night. “We’re big, but we’re small,” Heckelman says. “We’re community.”

Mt. Tam Racquet Club

1 Larkspur Plaza Dr., Larkpsur, 415/ 924.6226, mttamrc.com

2ND Rolling Hills Club, Novato

3RD The Marin Tennis Club, San Rafael


When Jefferson Parker, owner of Bikram Yoga San Rafael, bought the yoga studio, it needed new life. But it was that very studio that gave him new life after a series of health issues. “I was really sick and overweight and I ended up in a class there and it completely changed my life,” Parker says. Once he and his wife, Arjay Parker, fixed up the studio, they say, “it was pretty much a hit from the beginning.” Now, the couple is proud of the revamped space, which includes six bathrooms and seven showers. Bikram yoga, yoga-based circuit training and a new TRX suspension training program are all offered. “Basically wherever you’re at we can meet you,” Parker says. “We are there for the entire spectrum—from sick and injured to competitive athletes. We have a program to meet your needs.”

Bikram Yoga San Rafael

1295 Second St., Suite 210, San Rafael, 415/453.9642, sanrafaelyoga.com

2ND Red Dragon Yoga, San Rafael

3RD YogaWorks, Larkspur

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