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Sep 22nd
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Best Health & Fitness

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese medical herbs, energetics, dietetics, Tuina massage— it doesn’t get much better than this! Your coveted one-stop holistic portal is both a school and a haven.  Its impressive roster of professional health workers are simply dynamite. But it’s the unique methods of acupuncture that generated the most buzz this year. Thanks for the good vibes—inside and out—5B.  QUICK NOTE: Founded in 1984, the year of the mouse. | Charlie Price
Runners-up Lee Holden, Martha Benedict, Spa Fitness

Click Read More to see all the Best of Health & Fitness>

Aerobics Instructor
LEE PATEBestOof2010icon
You love this woman. Why? She’s like lightening in a bottle. Truly. Beyond the fact the Spa Fitness’s longtime aerobics trooper can actually instruct, she moves with true grace. There is, of course, that big heart—and smile—of hers, which warms the senses of her many students. QUICK NOTE: Pate has created a stir with her popular Zumba classes, both at Spa (which won Best Health Club) and other portals. | CP
Runners-up Dora Solinas, Paige Smith, Matt Reyes

Bike Trail
With its mix of fire roads and singletracks, WR boasts more than 40 miles of trails that reward the uphill effort with stunning vistas and views.  This is one of the best, unspoiled mountain biking paradises around. QUICK NOTE: It was originally the main rancho supply for the Santa Cruz Mission. Later, it became a dairy ranch. | CP
Runners-up Nisene Marks, West Cliff, UCSC

Day Spa
WELL WITHIN SPABestOof2010icon
Life can get crazy sometimes—and when it does, we are lucky to have a place like the Well Within Spa to offer respite from the madness. Offering calm and relaxation since 1985, the Well Within is a Zen-like downtown sanctuary with a full menu of indulgent services. Find solace in a private indoor or outdoor spa or sauna (the tub rooms are open until midnight and overlook a tranquil Japanese garden), loosen up with a massage, or specialty massage, from their long list of practitioners, or get glowing with one of their many sumptuous skin and body treatments. QUICK NOTE: Tuesday is Community Day at the WW, so be sure to ask for the Tuesday special when booking your tub room—an hour and a half for the price of one hour, and it’s $5 off massages. | Elizabeth Limbach
Runners-up Caress, Chaminade, Teahouse Fitness Center

Women’s Gym
SPA FITNESSBestOof2010icon
For more than 20 years, Spa Fitness has taken its spot as the best fitness center in the area, and it’s not hard to see why. With its women’s gym section (also making it the best women’s gym in the area) there’s something for everyone. Besides a number of programs—pilates and personal trainers, for instance—and discounts to get people involved, the gym features a basic, full complement of machines and weights, and is also known to be highly regulated to keep down wait times. QUICK NOTE: Uses 1,000 rolls of toilet paper a month between all the clubs.  | Zach Stoloff
(Fitness) Toadal Fitness, 24 Hour, 831 (Women’s Gym) Toadal Fitness, Curves, 831

Fitness Trainer
STEVE HODGERTBestOof2010icon
Who do you call when you want a great bod? It seems that when you’re ready for the right amount of push and pull to get you that much closer to becoming a modern Adonis, you call Steve Hodgert. A master at transforming flab and sculpting your muscles into sleek curves, Hodgert once again wins your repeat votes for Best Fitness Trainer. QUICK NOTE: It’s not easy finding just the right helping hand to get you lifting those barbells, and so we give kudos to a man who keeps you on your flexing toes and in tip top form. | CP
Runners-up Rocky Snyder, Paige Smith, Demetreus Hunter

Golf Course
With $5 for a small bucket of balls, this one may be hard to pass up. There’s also that wonderful lodge and pro shop to enjoy. All that, plus fine instruction from pros and a course that’s downright impressive. See QUICK NOTE: Disc Golf is immensely popular here. | CP
Runners-up Pasatiempo, Seascape, Boulder Creek

Hiking/Jogging/Running Trail
NISENE MARKSBestOof2010icon
Redwoods are wise beyond their years in arboreal terms, but little do they know what an affect they have on the human soul. And Nisene Marks is the perfect place to hug a tree or blast past one on a mountain bike. The treasured state park is one of the wildest in the county. It certainly keeps racking up wins in the readers’ poll. QUICK NOTE: There are 30 miles of trails winding through 10,000 acres of wilderness. | Bruce Willey
(HIKING) Pogonip, Wilder Ranch, Fall Creek (JOGGING/RUNNING)  West Cliff, Pogonip, Wilder Ranch

Skateboard Park
Designed by Zack Wormoudt (son of longtime politico Mardi Wormhoudt and father Ken, who designed what is widely considered the world’s first skatepark, Derby), this unique park continues to thrive. QUICK NOTE: Distinctly innovative ramps, rails, bowls, hubba ledges and a full pipe generate buzz here. | CP
Runners-up Derby Park, Santa Cruz Skate Park, Mike Fox

Swimming Pool
Four pools are better than one, right? Here, you have a 50-meter pool for lap swimming, and then another pool for recreational swimming. A third portal is the famous “splash-pool”—it houses a waterslide for kids. And the fourth? A wading pool—only for toddlers. Fun for everyone. But Simpkins has remained a winner for years because it knows how to  serve the masses well. FUN FACT: The 18-lane lap pool is the largest in the county and holds almost 600,000 gallons of water.  | CP
Harvey West, Spa Fitness, UCSC

Surf School
With a guarantee that every participant will stand up and ride down the face of a wave in their first lesson (the “Schmidt Guarantee”), the Richard Schmidt Surf School is confident in its technique. And since it opened in 1978, you’ve been confident as well. Just because you’re not sponsored doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your place in the lineup, and this is your preferred source of instruction to help you do so. Utilizing a cache of boards to accommodate every level, from Surftech softops to high performance shortboards, group, private and semi-private lessons are given year-round from Cowell Beach to Pleasure Point. QUICK NOTE: A photo of Richard Schmidt riding Waimea graced the cover of Surfer magazine for its December 1991 issue. | Linda Koffman
Runners-up Club Ed, Cowell’s, Santa Cruz Surf School

Surf Spot
STEAMER LANEBestOof2010icon
There’s nothing like an El Niño season to stir up a sweet sand bar and draw out the best faces of The Lane. This year’s been a good one for the surfer’s fave: word-class waves, a rousing Cold Water Classic, the effort to save the historic lighthouse museum and, now, a newly dedicated plaque commemorating the Hawaiian princes who brought surfing to Santa Cruz. Steamer Lane is the big daddy of local surf spots that has it all—unfortunately, even the crowds. But cutthroat competition or not, with West Cliff Drive wrapping around one helluva scene, The Lane is your natural treasure. QUICK NOTE: This is the infamous spot where Jack O’Neill lost his eye while testing out a leash. | LK
Runners-up Cowell’s, Pleasure Point, The Hook

Yoga Instructor
VICTOR DUBINBestOof2010icon
If you're going to be bending, stretching, and letting someone guide you in the intimate nature of Yoga, your pick is Victor Dubin of Nourish, a new studio in downtown Santa Cruz. Victor's prior work includes owning Om Room."We provide a safe and professional environment where our students, clients and customers can implement healthy lifestyle changes," Dubin notes on Nourish’s website. "We act as responsible stewards of the Earth." QUICK NOTE: They always say you can't do it without your better half, and that's exactly what Dubin is doing—he spearheads Nourish along with his wife, Jocelyn Dubin (see below). | Christa Martin
Mark Stephens, Kevin Snorf, Alice Kennedy

best4_health_nourYoga Studio
In the heart of Downtown Santa Cruz on Walnut Avenue yoga enthusiasts abound. Spearheaded by husband-and-wife team, Victor and Jocelyn Dubin, Nourish has become the new “it” center for trying out yoga. With an inviting studio, an ideal location and myriad services, Nourish is doing just that—nourishing Santa Cruz. In addition to doing your Downward Dog, you can also get a massage at Nourish, or solicit some nutritional guidance, as Jocelyn is a dietician. She’ll offer you tips on grocery shopping and eating out, as well answer your questions about what are the best dietary needs for your particular lifestyle or situation. QUICK NOTE: Its website,, offers a fantastic and educational blog, as well as extensive information on how to go about nourishing yourself.  | CM
Runners-up Village Yoga, Santa Cruz Yoga, Kali Ray

Outdoor Sports School
Being a beach town, it’s imperative to take advantage of the ocean’s natural beauty. Located on the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, Adventure Sports Unlimited is part marine adventure supply store and part nautical instruction school. Focusing on swimming, kayaking, and SCUBA, ASU provides resources enabling people to get into the ocean, and the know-how to safely enjoy themselves. The school offers a plethora of lectures and outings, one of which is seafood foraging, where attendees have the opportunity to learn how to find the ocean’s edible gems, and then subsequently how to prepare them. Other outings include SCUBA excursions, family-centered outings, skin diving, and CPR and first-aid instruction. The staff of Adventure Sports Unlimited is comprised of dedicated locals who have become familiar with the local waters from years of personal experience in them. QUICK NOTE: This summer, the programs continue to expand, as an underwater photography class is taking shape. The group also just organized a trip to Raja Ampat, and is planning more exotic jaunts in the future. | ZS
Runners-up Pacific Edge, Club Ed, Santa Cruz Endurance

best4_health_martialMartial arts instructor
GARTH TAYLORBestOof2010icon
Martial arts—particularly with the newfound success of mixed martial arts—is clearly a very popular sport. In that spirit, Kaijin Mixed Martial Arts is the premiere place in Santa Cruz to learn all about various skills, including boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, judo, and Brazilian Jiujitsu. The facility is also host to the West Cliff Juijitsu Club, of which many members compete in tournaments. Garth Taylor, one of the organization’s two primary instructors, purports to possibly be the world’s foremost black belt who is not Brazilian—a weighty claim, indeed. In fact, Taylor has spent much time in Brazil competing in tournaments there and learning the art from talented locals. In addition to his day job as a martial arts instructor, Taylor has also competed against, and beaten, former UFC champions such as Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett. He received his black belt in 2000, training with renowned instructor Claudio Franca, becoming a medalist in each belt level at Brazil’s World Championships along the way. In short, Kaijin Martial Arts is the most thorough and intense martial arts instruction in town. QUICK NOTE: In addition to offering classes and lessons in a variety of disciplines, they offer a variety of skill levels as well, starting from beginners and newbies to mixed martial arts. | ZS
Runners-up Jason Murphy, Claudio Franca, Augie Gonzales

Best of 2010 Index:

Best of Santa Cruz Shops
Best Arts, Entertainment & Nightlife>
Best Food & Drink>
Best Professionals>
Best of the Rest>
Critics’ Picks>

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