Core Power Yoga – Mission Viejo

Hot yoga has been one of my faves for years. I started with Bikram yoga which is done in a room heated to 96 degrees, it was very challenging to get used to. When I discovered Core Power Yoga it was a “much cooler” 90 degree room and thus felt much more tolerable.

I took Megan’s “hot yoga sculpt” class, and it is a great postpartum workout. It’s not too intense and the pace is slow, however because it’s in a heated room, I am going to say these classes are best for someone who works out regularly and has a more-than-beginner yoga practice. You really need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

1) Core Power just opened in Mission Viejo a year ago. It is very clean and has a zen yoga meets hipster type of vibe.

2) They run frequent teacher trainings and their instructors, across the board, are trained with the same sing-song like verbal wiring that paints an anatomical picture while giving direction. From studio to studio the instruction always feels the same, although a true beginner might spend a lot of time craning their neck to see the teacher if they don’t know their down dog from their dancers poser.

3) Core Power Yoga is about 15 minutes of body prep work and easing your body into the postures. It then flows into a 15 minute vinyasa (breath focused yoga) which aims to rev up your body for the more intense weight workout. The sculpting workout is an intense 15 minutes that is done with 3-5 lb weights and combines traditional weight training movement patterns with an asana (posture focused yoga) workout. Push through it! It’s intense but short! The last 15 minutes of class are standing and seated asana and a sivasana (corpse pose – relaxing the body into the floor).

4) The staff is very friendly, welcoming, and incredibly helpful. They are very hands on, Megan does great adjustments on each practitioner, no matter how many students are in the room.

Overall a great workout and one of my favorites. It combines different movement patterns that make for a challenging and effective workout!

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.



Welcome to Fitness Reviews OC!

I want to thank you for taking the time to visit our site! You have probably made your way here because you are interested in a fitness class, a club, or a gym somewhere and want to get the scoop about what it is all about.

I have been in the fitness industry for 17 years and the thing that surprises most my clients and trainers is how often I train at other clubs. I love my studio, and we serve a huge need in the community, but I love getting out and experiencing what other trainers and clubs do. You wouldn’t expect a chef to eat nothing but their own food week after week? They are foodies you will find them out at the best restaurants!

So that is what this blog is about. Each week I will be reviewing a different instructor, class or facility. As of this initial post, May 22, 2014, I am 18 weeks pregnant… so of course these first few months of reviews will prenatal classes as well as classes that can be scaled.

Each review will have the following components:

1) Space/Facility: Not just cleanliness but the organization of the space and flow, the music and over all feel of the place – is is a bumping party? or a mellow place for rejuvenation?

2) Quality of Instruction: was the queuing of the exercises adequate for a beginner as well as for someone more advanced.

3) The workout itself: what it will do for you and if it will help you reach your fitness goals

4) The friendliness of staff: from the receptionist and managers to the instructors and trainers.

I am unbelievably excited to not only try the amazing fitness classes, bootcamps, crossfits, barre, pilates, yoga, zumba and more!