Total Training Fitness- Beginner’s Review

To start my awesome first week I chose Total Training Fitness in Laguna Hills. They are relatively new to an actual brick and mortar, owned by an amazing couple that TRULY cares about the people who come to work out with them. I honestly cannot say enough nice things about Tammy and Gregg!

As a beginner, make sure to show up a tad early for your first class of your trial- you will sign into their system and you get to use a heart rate monitor. These things are AMAZING for 2 reasons- they tell you if you’re in your target heart rate and they tell you how many calories you’ve burned. If you’re like me, knowing how many calories you’ve burned is a motivator. Every time I felt like I made a mistake by doing any type of activity I just looked up at the tvs above the treadmills and had a little competition with myself! Hint: Don’t compare your calorie burn to any of the men in the room, it will possibly make you wish you were a man for a brief moment.


Once hooked up to the heart monitor, Tammy explained how they work. You’re doing 6 minute circuits switching from treadmill work to “on the floor” which is where you get to use weights, mats and bosu balls (things that were created to show you how terrible your balance is). I am not a treadmill fan but this was great because they don’t tell you what SPEED to use, only what level and incline you should stay at. There are guides on each treadmill so if you’re lost you can get right back on track!

Their classes were SO motivating you guys…when I go to the gym on my own I just do NOT get the results and burn that I get from classes taught by instructors!

NOW ON TO THE RATINGS!! ( 1 star- 5 stars, 5 being the BEST!)

1. Affordability–  5/5. They have pricing for ALL budgets and the best part is that you can choose auto-pay and get some ridiculous discounted classes, i’m talking a little under $9 per class if you choose their 16 class per month package! You can cancel at any time with a 30 day notice and you’re not bound to it like most other gyms! LOVE that because life DOES happen, trust me, I know!

2. Availability– 5/5. Classes are all day at all times, the mornings and evenings are busier because of work but the 12pm class was a great size!

3. Difficulty3/5. As a beginner, some parts were super hard but I pushed through! The day after my first class I felt like a truck ran over me and the day after that maybe just a smaller truck…but still a truck. LOL! It’s definitely high impact but I absolutely LOVED that they gave modified options for the beginners! BUT I did burn almost 700 calories in an hour so…worth it!


4. Variety5/5. Every class is completely different! I took a class by two different instructors and they were 100% different which I also loved because i’m one of those people that gets bored with at home videos because of the repetition!

5. Intimidation Factor5/5. I did not at any time feel like the fat kid in class even though I was.

They are centrally located in Laguna Hills right off Moulton and La Paz! Such a great, clean studio with instructors and owners that truly care about you and motivate you!


Go check them out and try them for a week for free and tell them Nicole sent ya! It’s worth it!! Oh yeah, and ask them about their Rewards Program 😉

Total Training Website

26552A Moulton Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

The Fit Mom Project

Hey everyone! My name is Nicole and I am SUPER excited to join Natalie and Fitness Reviews to bring you reviews on local fitness studios from a beginner’s perspective!

Like a lot of moms in Orange County I have a lot going on…I am a mom to two toddlers (1.5 and 3) and a business owner. I have zero fitness background unless you count chasing toddlers, which in my opinion, should be considered as an olympic sport. Are you a beginner too? Are you hoping to find somewhere to get active now that your kids are back in school? Are you down for the winter prep for summer bod lifestyle?


Do any of these sound like you?

  • The thought of running outside in the daylight makes me want to eat cake.
  • My kids are my excuse but they should be my reason.
  • I don’t know where to start to find myself a studio that is right for me as a beginner.
  • I am not motivated enough (yet) to go to the gym on my own, I need some guidance and motivation.
  • I am intimidated by most gym settings because of all the models and Ryan Reynolds look a-likes running around while i’m there.


If you said YES to any of these you want to pay close attention to this series!

I am going to be searching high and low for local Orange County fitness studios- anything from yoga and pure barre to HIIT workouts and I am going to try them out FOR YOU. Okay, for me too. I am going to be honest, raw and thorough in my reviews, focusing on these 5 key points for us beginners.

  • Affordability– What are the package prices, what do they include? Are there drop in classes? Special deals for new sign ups?
  • Availability– If I need to go during a certain window (in my case, my son is in preschool from 12-3 monday through friday) is there a wide range of class times to fit a mom/business owner’s busy schedule?
  • Difficulty– As a true beginner it’s always going to be difficult to start something up but will these classes leave me feeling like road kill on the side of the road, thus scaring me from going back?
  • Variety– Are there levels? Different kinds of classes?
  • Intimidation factor– This is HUGE for me. I don’t like walking into places and feeling like I am the newbie. Do you feel welcomed? Encouraged by others around you?

I am stoked for this journey and the fact that I get to share it with you all! Please follow along and join me for classes! I am ONLY trying out studios that have free trials and the length of each will be specified!

Follow on instagram @thefitmomproject to see where i’ll be! Join me for a class, ask anything you’d like! This is going to be fun!!

I heart yoga in the park- Dana point

If you’ve ever wanted to try yoga but were a little shy, or didn’t want to invest a lot of money purchasing a few sessions, then this is the place for you! Donation based yoga is offered every Friday at 10 am at Lantern Bay Park in Dana Point. It is taught by some of the best and kindest yogis from around South County.

1)The yoga is taught in the open space in the park. Come early to grab a spot under the trees if you think the sun will bother you.

2) The instructors are wonderful! They speak in clear, plain language, so if you aren’t familiar with the names of the poses you will still be able to follow along.

3)Donations: they really don’t give you a suggestion, so it truly is whatever you can or can’t give that day. Some days maybe it’s $3, others maybe $15. It’s up to you!

4)Kid and dog friendly! Most of us with little ones and dogs stay to the back of the pack, but leashed dogs and children are very welcome here.

I have been blessed to take my two year old daughter every Friday for the last two months of my pregnancy. We have a ton of fun.

The breakdown:
Equipment:  bring your own mat, towel, and some water.
Level: all levels are welcome and encouraged. I would say they follow a level 1 style of teaching, a very mellow and light vinyasa (breathing focused yoga) flow and they always give variations for advanced practitioners.
Average age of participant: this is truly a 13-90 class. All age ranges represented here.



Vertical Pilates- Mission Viejo

This morning I headed to Vertical Pilates in Mission Viejo for my first private session. After the 30 minute free intro session I had last week I decided that, for this pregnant mama, this was a workout worth investigating more!

Their tag line is “Vertical Pilates engages the mind, the muscles and the heart.” These workouts are performed in an upright position with focus on posture, it is pilates standing up! Makes sense doesn’t it? I mean we stand or sit in an upright posture more then half of the day.

Vertical Pilates is a new studio and is the brain child of Zeena Dalla, a well known pilates expert in Southern California. CoreAlign is the only method of pilates used at Vertical Pilates.The emphasis on upright posture is designed to improve posture, balance, and functional movement. Developed by a physical therapist, the exercises facilitates musculoskeletal rehabilitation by stimulating core stability muscles to fire in perfect timing while performing challenging exercises. While CoreAlign is offered at a few pilates studios around town, Zeena is the first to focus on this method exclusively.


1) Space/Facility: Located in an office building off Avery and Crown Valley in Mission Viejo, the space has big windows on two sides making it light and bright.

2) The studio is very small, intimate, and private. Sessions are either private or offered in small groups of 4-6. There really isn’t very much music played, and if it is it’s soft and soothing, mostly because you really need to concentrate on each movement.

2) My trainer was Jan and she was great!  A former dancer and a pilates instructor for the last several years, she was excellent at instructing us step by step on the movements, as well as keeping us moving all together in a rhythm that allowed us to control the movement but also challenge our bodies a bit.

3) The workout: I would say that for prenatal fitness, this is a must. I was able to get an incredibly effective core workout without flexing my spine (crunches are uncomfortable when pregnant). I would also say there where quite a few people rehabbing long term injuries. Pilates itself is a wonderful, effective, and gentle system of fitness, great to get strong and firm, and the fact that this one is up-right doesnt change that. In fact, I think it enhances the workout.

4) The friendliness of staff: Great staff, small so you know everyone.

The breakdown:

Equipment: CoreAlign vertical pilates machines

Style: small group all in one training – everyone follows the same workout with modifications for those that need them, as well as private sessions.

Levels: I was placed in a group for very beginners, and loved it. I would imagine other groups allow for further instruction and advancement.

Child care: not offered

Average age of participant: 40 plus

28570 Marguerite Parkway

Suite 200

Mission Viejo, CA 92692

ph: 949-464-VERT (8378)

Definition Fitness- Laguna Hills

Wow, I just got my arms and abs WORKED!!! Definition Fitness is a weight training fitness studio in Laguna Hills. They offer a mix of private one on one training and group training. The workouts are all traditional gym workout – good old fashion tried and true muscle workers. Bicep curls, chest flies, lunges, chest press, rope work, bag work, and stability balls. I gotta say I got worked, and it was awesome!

Equipment: dumbells, squat rack, tires, ropes, cable machines.20140605-170342.jpg

Style: group, all in one training – everyone follows the same workout with modifications for those that need them.

Levels: I would say an “advanced beginner” on up. You should have some knowledge of lunges and curls (although not mandatory) to keep up with the group sessions.

1) This place JUST opened! In fact their grand opening is this Saturday June 7, so yes, everything is spanking new and clean! It is in a warehouse location and very much a gym. Guys and gals, athelets of all levels would be very comfortable training here.

2) I did the group training class with Desiree Sewall and she was great! Very motivational, she went over each exercise and it’s proper movement pattern. A lot of reminders to breath, which was great.20140605-170327.jpg

3) The workout was a traditional gym, weight training workout, with dumbbells and other equipment. Three sections of exercises each with three sets of three different rotating exercises done back to back to maximize efficiency.

4) Everyone was very nice here. You can tell a lot of these clients have been training together for sometime with Desiree as there is an easy conversational camaraderie that goes on.



PURE sports fitness and therapy-Lake Forest

**Note this is a biased review as I am also the owner! ****

Pure sports fitness and therapy is a group personal training studio in Lake Forest since 2009.  Their tag line is “the most affordable way to work with a personal trainer” and I would say that is absolutely true! There are no class “slots” per se you sign up for a rough time 6 am, and start whenever you get there with your program, so if you are early or late you can jump right in. Each workout is programmed and designed to meet your personal goals, and health history.  Each workout is lead by a personal trainer everytime you walk in, and everyone is doing the workout that is right for their body and their needs. So you might be working out next to a high school athelete, or a pregnant woman, and your workout will look different.

pure logo

equipment: weights, GTS, TRX, tire, chains, kick boxing bags, sand bags, spinning bikes, rowers, pilates springs

Ideal for Anyone but note that because of our background in Therapy most clients seek us out to help them with an injury, to pair it with physical therapy, or because they are nervous about re injury, probably 90% of all clients come in the front door with an existing injury we are working with.

1) The trainers here are amazing, kind, knowledgeable and motivating. The space and equipment is older but very clean.  The music is always upbeat and trendy but it is not too loud, the trainers need to be able to coach the clients through various movement patterns and need to be heard. High plank variations

2) The instruction is rock solid, Doing this review (and being biased as the owner) I let both my trainers program for me at almost 20 weeks pregnant, now granted I am the boss and they might have been nervous, but their queing was spot on, and their programming was perfect. Since all programs are designed for the individual any one at any level can workout at this studio.

3) You will definitely reach your fitness goals, wheather you are seeking a highly intense workout for high caloric burn and muscle build, or you are seeking the softer pilates based movements for strength and posture, you will definietly find what you need.

4) Not only will you find the staff super freindly and outgoing, but so are the clients! There is definetly a sense of comraderie and companionship here.

Prices range from $70-205 a month depending on how often you are working out. For clients on the unlimited package that attend 5 days a week it works out to $9 per workout! Everyone’s first week is free with no obligation to join.

5 stars!group personal training

Located at 22821 Lake Forest, CA 92630


Review: YogaWorks Mission Viejo

Yoga Works Mission Viejo Theraputic Yoga

Yoga Works Mission Viejo Theraputic Yoga


This morning I ventured over to Yoga Works in Mission Viejo to take Suzy Gills’ “Therapeutic Yoga” course. I experienced a lot of back pain when I was pregnant with my son, so I was very excited to take this class and see what it had to offer.


Equipment used: mat (bring your own or rent one from the studio), and then the studio provides blocks, strap, chair, blankets and bolster.

1) Yoga Works has been in Mission Viejo for 15 years, and while the studio is older, it is very clean, quiet, and calming. The equipment is all clean and very well maintained. There are two studio spaces and classes run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The classes offered range from beginner to the advanced practitioner.

2) I can not say enough good things about Suzy Gills, she is extremely knowledgeable about injuries, movement, and movement patterns. During class she was very vigilant and aware of each attendees special needs, there were a lot of back, knee and neck issues. This class holds true to the “therapeutic” in the name, it for people who have an injury or something they need to work through and can not do standing poses. It’s not even a “beginner class” it is a “pre-beginner” class.

3) This class is truly an extension of a good physical therapy session (although there is no PT assumed or offered). It is gentle and Suzy walked everyone through how to open up and relax the muscles along the spine and spectrum, all the while working on tiny muscle movements and bringing awareness to areas where you might have tightness. If you have suffered any injury and are seeking a way to get back into yoga this is the perfect must-do class for you!

4) The receptionist at the front was wonderful and she even extended the package I had a few months because of my pregnancy.


The breakdown:

This is a 5 star class for sure!

Recommended for: Those with injuries, pre- and postnatal, and those beginners who aren’t sure where to begin.


Review: Barre3 Laguna Niguel

I had a wonderful workout this morning at the newly opened Barre3 in Laguna Niguel. Their tag line is “where ballet barre meets yoga and pilates.”

Considering this pregnancy has had me on bed rest for most of it and even put me in the hospital three weeks ago, I am incredibly proud of myself for getting through this workout. While most instructors will start with an advanced movement and then give an alternative move for the beginners, Jessica, the instructor,  taught the entire class in “beginner” mode until everyone was settled in the movements then she would let you “layer up” and advance the movement to the difficulty of your choice. I love this! It doesn’t alienate the beginners, and actually empowers everyone in the class.

So lets get to the review!

1) The studio is brand spanking new, clean, and full of light and clean lines. It’s is very inviting and welcoming! The music was upbeat and fun, not exactly what I expected for the blend of barre Pilates and yoga but it actually worked really well.

2) The instructor was awesome … her explanations of the movements were clear and concise, not too much anatomical jargon, but clear talk to help you engage your thighs, core, and upper back. The movements were mostly done in 40-50 reps with lots of “holds” and pulsing in between. No big movements, nothing jarring, and no impact. But never fear you will feel the burn!

3) The workout itself uses high reps and isometric holds to achieve muscle overload and fatigue and so while you’re not moving a lot, you’re moving properly, and in a way that counts. It blends one barre movement seamlessly into a yoga pose for holding and then back into barre. The floor work is very classic core pilates and you will feel your midsection burning in all the right areas!

4) When I walked in I was greeted by none other than the owner, Nikki! She checked me in, rang me up, and then she went over the basics –  where to put my stuff in the lockers out front, where I could find a complimentary towel, and where I could refill my water bottle. All of the other clients there to workout were very friendly.

This is a one room adorable studio located next to Whole Foods Market in Laguna Niguel. The drop in price is $20, or they have class passes and a monthly unlimited membership for $160 on auto-renrew.

The Breakdown:

5 stars for sure!

I will be back!

To learn more go to and search for the Laguna Niguel location, or you can call 949-328-9633.