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Fitness frenzy?: Lots of options to shape up in Nevada County

This is the second in a series about health and exercise choices available in western Nevada County. Today: Finding the right fit in a fitness program.

Nevada County is brimming with options for those who want to take fitness classes in 2017.

Some programs have been around for decades, while others are more recent innovations. Some studios specialize in a particular program; others offer a wide selection of training options.

Fitness programs sampled by The Union all have enthusiastic trainers eager to share their expertise with clients. Their communal motto: it’s never too soon or too late to pursue health and fitness.


Center of Movement

The Center of Movement Studio in downtown Grass Valley offers a variety of group exercise classes including Pilates, Booty Barre, Vertical Fit, and Fusion Dance Fitness.

Owner Haven Caravelli said her studio is a high-energy alternative to a typical gym. Clients can drop in on classes by purchasing a $125 punch card good for 10 classes – and the punch card never expires. Private sessions range from $40 to $75.

“We are a boutique fitness facility,” said Caravelli. “If someone makes a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and get healthy, we offer a fun community with guided and specialized programs.”

After her first private Pilates session with Caravelli, Ashley Hegarty of Nevada City said it was challenging but enjoyable.

“I have lower back pain, so I’m trying to strengthen my hips and make my lower back more stable,” Hegarty explained. “Private sessions are more personal. You’re not locked down to a gym membership where you sign up for a year, agree to pay a price, and then they raise the rates.”

Jene Morrison began teaching Booty Barre classes at Center of Movement Studio in October.

“Booty Barre utilizes the ballet bar, and a lot of ballet-type movements that are tiny and stable. It builds a lot of core strength,” explained Morrison, a former Roller Derby competitor. “There are light cardio bursts throughout the class, and it incorporates yoga, Pilates, strength training and ballet.”

Fit Culture

Another local fitness guru, Joey Bratton of Fit Culture Studio in Nevada City, said there is no definitive right or wrong approach.

“When you go down that journey toward improving your health, performance and body composition, it’s good to have an expert as a resource to guide you,” said Bratton. “It’s the difference between guessing your way to the results you want and actually having a road map that will lead to the results you’re looking for.”

Fit Culture offers three types of training: personal, small-group and large-group. While there are also open gym hours, Bratton said Fit Culture is not a conventional gym.

The difference to Bratton, who said he wholly respects and appreciates traditional gyms, is in the type of membership models.

“Traditional gyms are experts at selling long-term contracts. For the right person, gyms offer a lot of things for people to stay active and healthy. But the struggle I have with that model is that only 18 percent (of new members) who are in long-term contracts use the gym consistently,” said Bratton, quoting industry statistics. “It’s not necessarily serving people who would do better with more accountability and coaching.”

Fit Culture members pay $60 for 12 large-group classes, and up to $60 for one-hour personal training sessions.

Carol Jean Cos of Nevada City joined Fit Culture five years ago, and said she’s considering adding one-on-one sessions to her membership.

“I had some injuries earlier this year and used the gym to recondition my ankle and knee,” said Cos. “Joey is excellent. I’m allegiant to the people at this gym. They are specialists in injury rehabilitation and prevention.”

Fast and Fit

A local women-only studio is Fast and Fit, which offers nearly two dozen 30-minute classes every week with monthly dues of $40 to $50.

“Our classes use equipment such as stability balls, resistance bands, core strength training with free weights, and foam rollers. We also offer a stretch and relax class several times a week,” said Fast and Fit owner Judi Bannister.

A unique class exclusive to Fast and Fit is Super Circuit, an instructor-led session incorporating cardio-type moves with PACE resistance equipment.

“Our classes are very modifiable for all age groups of women. Each class is different because we cater to who is in the group. We change it up depending on what the need is,” said Bannister, who has two American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainers on staff.

Harmony Fitness Studio

Another local fitness program with a diverse menu is Harmony Fitness Studio, which opened last March in the Brunswick Basin.

“We have yoga, Pilates, TRX suspension training, Zumba, spinning, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong,” reported owner Wanda Perez. “With our three personal trainers and nine instructors, we also offer one-on-one training, nutritional support, and massage therapy.”

Harmony Fitness doesn’t require enrollment fees, commitments, or contracts. A 10-session punch card costs $8 per class and a 30-session punch card runs $6 per class. Personal training sessions cost $25 for 30 minutes or $45 for an hour.

“It’s not intimidating here,” summarized Perez. “Come in, find friends and compete with yourself.”

Foothills Fitness

Yet another studio, Foothills Fitness (FF), partners with a variety of training programs in its pursuit to be a “one-stop shop” for fitness. FF is a personal training studio that also offers small-group classes limited to six students at a time. The studio is split roughly in half: a training space with modern equipment such as weights, rings, and bars, next to a multi-purpose space with sprung gymnastic floors and 20-foot high ceilings suitable for aerial arts and fitness classes. That space is home to The Aerial Lab, which offers courses ranging from Aerial Yoga to Trapeze.

“I think the more, the merrier. There can never be too many fitness programs,” said FF owner Krista Yazzolino. “The more options there are, the more people in the county who will be drawn to fitness.”

That attitude is exemplified in the way Foothills Fitness partners with Kidding Around Yoga to offer twice-a-week Mom and Me yoga classes. The studio is also home to AirBreakers, which provides break dancing instruction and acrobatics. Soon, FF will team with its neighbors, The Gold Crush Climbing Gym and Grass Valley CrossFit, to offer collaborative packages.

Foothills Fitness customers pay $99 for unlimited classes each month, or $15 per class. One-on-one sessions with FF personal trainers cost $35 for 30 minutes or $55 for an hour-long session.

“It’s an affordable way to get personal attention,” said Yazzolino.


Some fitness studios offer a single discipline such as yoga, Pilates, Jazzercise, aerobics, and others.

Grass Valley Yoga

“Yoga is a complete form of practice that connects the body, mind and spirit,” explained Whitney Triplett, owner of Grass Valley Yoga. “We cultivate healing in the body through physical postures that incorporate simple movements. These movements balance and strengthen the body, encouraging a deeper connection to self, including peace of mind and overall health and positive well-being.”

Triplett said her Alta Sierra studio offers classes for everyone, from beginners to more experienced practitioners. Clients purchase a series of classes: four for $55 or eight for $100. A “New Student Special” this month offers 30 days of unlimited classes for $30.

The Pilates Place

Roxanna Cohen, a physical therapist and owner of The Pilates Place in downtown Grass Valley, said her specialized discipline utilizes full body movement to build a balanced body.

“The new trend is functional training, and Pilates is the original functional training because it does not isolate specific body parts. You use your full body for every single exercise. There is an emphasis on alignment, precision, breath, and spine movements,” said Cohen, whose instructors are nationally-certified by The Pilates Method Alliance.

Mat classes are $12 and classes using special spring-loaded equipment are $22.

Cohen, who boasts 35 years in the fitness industry, said it’s easy to tell when a Pilates class has been taught by an experienced instructor.

“You never walk away feeling beat up,” said Cohen. “You know you’ve had a workout, but you don’t feel beat up.”


Jazzercise is a fitness program/dance party that’s been around more than four decades. The 60-minute sessions combine cardio, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and modern dance, allowing students to burn up to 800 calories per session.

“We fit in warm-up, aerobics, strength training and stretching all in one hour,” explained Lynn Maas, who has been leading Jazzercise classes for 31 years including 17 at her Grass Valley studio above Caroline’s Coffee Roasters. “Our choreography is approved by exercise physiologists. The program is well thought-out to avoid injury and be safe.”

Offering dozens of classes each week at convenient times, Maas and her other instructors can draw up to 50 students at a time.

Customers can purchase eight classes for $80 or pay $50 for one month of unlimited classes. The secret to the popularity and longevity of Jazzercise is simple, said Maas. “It’s really fun!”

Beyond Boomers

Deborah Richmond, owner of Beyond Boomers Fitness which holds classes in Grass Valley’s Veterans Memorial Building, said her program caters to the senior set.

“It’s similar to jazzercise but I make it easier. I design my classes to be more fun so clients don’t even think they’re exercising. That’s what makes it unique,” said Richmond. “You feel like you’ve been out at a dance party. I choreograph all my routines to the needs of the students and target specific muscle areas or groups of muscles.”

Richmond recently introduced a new class for people with balance issues – again, targeting Nevada County’s aging population.

“It’s no impact, no jumping, just fun with a flare and a lot of balancing. I make a joke about it. ‘We’re doing this balancing routine so your spouse won’t discover that you’ve fallen in the bushes out back,’” laughed Richmond.

Beyond Boomers classes can be large: up to 60 people. Members of SilverSneakers, a fitness program provided at no cost by more than 60 health plans, pay nothing for classes. Non-SilverSneakers members are charged $36 for 30 days of classes.


As with all monetary decisions, local fitness experts recommend reading any fine print before signing on the dotted line if a contract is required. Many fitness studios offer specials at the beginning of each new year, and several have free trial periods throughout the year that last up to a week.

“It can be confusing with the large number of studios and gyms out there,” admitted Caravelli of Center of Movement Studio. “You should try them out. Do your research. Take free classes until you find what’s comfortable.”

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. To suggest a business news feature, contact her LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

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