Best of 2010: Sporting Life


Spectrum Athletic Clubs

6144 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-0556

3908 State St., 563-8700

21 W. Carrillo St., 965-0999.

In the realm of muscle making, Spectrum is more than the Gold’s standard, according to Ramon Adams, manager of the club downtown. When Gold’s Gym sold its S.B. locations to Spectrum, swapping a West Coast franchise for East Coast chain management, all the good stuff stayed, and some better stuff happened. “We seriously upgraded the Goleta gym, putting in new equipment, tearing out the office space, and adding more cardio,” explained Adams. “They even have a great view out there, now.” But the best part comes standard, he added. “I think we run a very clean, friendly establishment, reasonably priced, with great classes for people of all ages and all walks of life,” said Adams. “It’s an all-around great athletic club.”

FINALIST: S.B. Athletic Club


Yoga Soup

28 Parker Wy., 965-8811

Yoga Soup owner Eddie Ellner is glad to win reader support and, maybe more than that, he’s glad just to be here. “It’s great that we can just have a place where we can do what we do best. Host. On any typical weekend we might have eight different things happening,” he said, describing a range of activities stretching from (naturally) yoga classes to spoken-word events. “At first I just wanted to create the kind of place where I would like to come. And then a lot of other ideas happened.” In the five years the studio’s been hosting, Yoga Soup has won The Indy’s Best Of readers’ poll four times. “I guess we’re doing something right,” said Ellner. They even have a sense of inspirational humor. “We have a coffin upstairs,” he laughed, speaking of places to permanently hang out. “It has a sign next to it that reads, ‘The World’s Greatest Teacher.’”

FINALIST: S.B. Yoga Center



3554 State St., 687-4692

In case you’re baffled by the algebra, the name IM=X means Integrated Movement Equals Xercize, which is a tribute to Joseph Pilates whose 1920s formulation evolved into an exercise method favored by dancers. Now, 90 years later, it’s become the rage. “It’s part of a franchise that started in Manhattan, but so far we’re the only two in California,” explained Chanda Fetter, a former Gold’s Gym employee who owns the IM=X here, and she thinks the rest of the state will catch on soon. “It’s super-affordable and we have all elements of Pilates,” she said, rattling off dizzying varieties of exercise from spinning and TRX, which, she pointed out, is a lot like Red Cord. (Can we go back to the algebra?) “Mostly it’s popular because it makes you look like a dancer,” she said. And that’s a plus anyone can figure.

FINALIST: CenterPoint Pilates


Martial Arts Family Fitness
Paul Wellman

Martial Arts Family Fitness

122 E. Gutierrez St., 963-6233

For seven years in a row, this little eastside studio has topped the charts of real life chop-socky passions, though owner Melodee Meyer hastens to point out that it’s decidedly not about street rumbling. “It’s really the people here that make this place great,” she said. “The staff, the instructors, and the people who come here are fabulous, and they attract even more fabulous people,” she explained, pointing out that the center has students from age three to 70 plus. “And it isn’t all martial arts,” she said, though she’s quite proud of their hapkido master, Dave Wheaton. “We teach cardio classes like kickboxing, and the kids learn life skills and confidence.” Which is better than fighting any day.

FINALIST: Paragon Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


Santa Barbara Dance Arts

1 N. Calle César Chávez, #100, 966-5299

Though he’s been teaching our younglings to trip the light fantastic for almost 15 years, Steven Lovelace seems to be really hitting his stride these last few years. Since moving his studio down to the appropriately termed Funk Zone and joining forces with Alana Tillim, Lovelace’s empire of the dance has spread inexorably. “This a great time for this recognition, just as we’re opening a second studio,” Lovelace said, exultant. The new place is in Carpinteria, and the studio is hopping. Professional dancer Cris Judd recently picked the studio to give a vaunted master class, and a lot of community troupes like BoxTales use the studio to rehearse, too. “We’ve got a solid clientele and we keep getting referrals, so we must be doing something right,” said Lovelace.

FINALIST: Rhythm Dance & Fitness Studios


Body Boot Camp of Santa Barbara


“There’s a few reasons people like us, I think, but the most important reason is our coaches,” explained Body Boot Camp owner Rob Grayson, about the outdoor training program that has held athletic outdoor court at Shoreline Park for seven years now. “We try to find the best people and we train them so they can give lots of support to the people who come. You know, it’s not just about exercise, there’s a social aspect to the boot camp, and we’re so happy because our clients really connect with the coaches. In some cases, if a coach has to change times, clients will change time to stay with them. We love that people have appreciated us and taken time to vote for Body Boot Camp,” he said.



El Capitán State Beach

Off Hwy. 101, 17 miles west of Santa Barbara, 968-1033

Lots of baby boomers grew up going to El Cap for a summer vacation. Their kids went there on grammar school class trips. Everybody from Santa Barbara seems to have incurred some lasting memory—the campground has won our readers’ poll for at least the last decade straight. You’ve got to flee Dodge, but don’t have time to seek the high lonely country or the moola for a weekend spree at the Chateau Marmont. Where else but El Capitán? Beaches, creek side stands of sycamore, a very decent snack bar, and enough remoteness from the urban onslaught of Santa Barbara that stars wink a little brighter overhead. And the waves make a serenade for your poor overstressed nerves; it’s the retreat the readers can’t forget.

FINALIST: Refugio State Beach


Corilynn Duddridge is part of the family-owned Mountain Air Sports.
Paul Wellman

Mountain Air Sports

14 State St., 962-0049

“We try to keep on top of what are the correct toys,” said Mountain Air co-owner Ken Duddridge, of the store that annually takes some honor in the 31 years it’s been selling gear to cold weather fans. “We are selling toys. But seriously, we try to carry a quality product line and hire knowledgeable and friendly staff. I think that’s what keeps people coming back. Our salespeople are all users of the products. That’s our game plan and we’re keeping to it.”

FINALISTS: Camping Gear Store: Santa Barbara Outfitters; Snowboard/Ski Gear Store: Arbor


Channel Islands Surfboards

39 Anacapa St., 966-7213

It’s mighty lonely on the beach sands this summer. At least that’s the conclusion that Channel Islands’ Adam Rondepierre was forced to draw, watching the store stay filled with the hardcore surfing element, but suspiciously minus mainstream sunbathers. “We sold a lot more boards than shirts,” he said somewhat ruefully. It wasn’t terrible, but everybody in the store is looking forward to the crash of the first winter swells from Rincon up to Perko’s Point on the Ranch. Then the regulars will doubtless return again and again, as the ancient home of shaper Al Merrick greets another year. “Our boards are the best and we carry everything a surfer needs,” said Rondepierre, happy to win the poll. The sun is gonna rise again.

FINALIST: Beach House


Bikini Factory

2275 Ortega Hill Rd., #B, Summerland, 969-2887

It’s been around almost longer than the Beach Boys and it’s just an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie store way off in colorful Summerland. (Come to think of it, where better to sell bathing suits?) But it’s the top of the food chain for fashionable people who usually want less of a good thing and lots to choose from. Friendly staff, who’ve outfitted three generations, Bikini Factory is made-to-order, and they barely cover the waterfront.

FINALIST: Sundance Beach


Bicycle Bob’s

15 Hitchcock Wy., 682-4699; 250 Storke Rd., Goleta, 685-6799

“We’re very happy to win this and a source of great pride,” said Bob Zaratzian, owner of this 27-year-old business that has taken The Indy’s readers’ poll at least 11 times. “We try very hard. We’re all human and we all mess up one way or another but we try to treat people the way they would want to be treated. It’s really that simple,” said Zaratzian. He’s noticed an increase in sales with the kind of bikes that could reasonably be assumed to be meant for commuting. In hard economic times, that’s a likely blessing, and it’s good for everyone, including the shop’s bottom line. “The more bikes there are on the road, the fewer cars. It’s good for everyone.”

FINALIST: Open Air Bicycles


Church of Skatan

26 E. Gutierrez St., 899-1586

This is one of the city’s wittiest businesses, and it’s not just the name. This all-encompassing skateboard shop thrives in a defrocked church downtown not far from where the most scenic skate park in possibly the western world. They got decks, wheels, hoodies, caps, and a place to hang and bang your board against some steps honing your craft and toughening those bones.

FINALIST: The Arbor Collective


Santa Barbara Running

110 Anacapa St., 899-8802; 129 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta, 964-6700

Manager Nick de Vrees thinks people are surprised when they come into the store and find prices haven’t been raised in accordance with their small store in a Gucci locality. “We charge regular retail prices,” he said. “Besides we have experts there ready to fit you to the right shoe.” Their profile is also high because S.B. Running is out in the community sponsoring races and other events. But it probably comes down to what happens inside the store. “Everybody who works here is a big runner, obsessed with running, and really willing to help others.”

FINALIST: Big 5 Sporting Goods


Hook, Line & Sinker

4010 Calle Real, #5, 687-5689

It’s tucked away at the foot of San Marcos Pass, making it very attainable as a stop on your way up to the lake. But it’s not just about freshwater fishing, HL&S wins this honor year after year because the little store keeps itself compleat for all types of anglers from deep in the channel to that little secret bend in the creek where you caught a steelhead this big not that long ago.

FINALIST: Big 5 Sporting Goods


Condor Express

301 W. Cabrillo Blvd., 882-0088

Life holds few moments of grandeur greater than spotting a whale come to the surface of broad seas. The drama exceeds almost all natural wonders, since we approach most magnificent sights (and sites) gradually—perhaps only the Grand Canyon is so suddenly revealed. A breaching whale, even one just expelling steam, combines frightening size with pure and powerful grace. The problem with whales, of course, is their unpredictability; you don’t know when they’ll pop up, only adding to the mystique. The Condor operators offer guarantees: if you board their boat and keep a weather eye on the channel waters—no fair hiding in the cabin—you will see something cetacean arise like a subconscious revelation to haunt your memory for months to come. Just ask the readers, the Condor doesn’t blow, but its scenery often does.

FINALIST: Double Dolphin


Sandpiper Golf Club

7925 Hollister Ave., 968-1541

General manager and director of golf D.J. Limardi isn’t being braggy when he calls Sandpiper a “championship course.” Built in the 1970s on a tract of land that lies dramatically between mountains and waves near the Bacara hotel, the course was designed by William Bell Jr. who also created Carmel’s famous Torrey Pines course. “Of course, it’s always a matter of opinion, but this course in size and layout could host a championship,” he swears. “But it’s our commitment to giving golfers an exceptional experience and the way we treat local players, I think, that people like. And it is a spectacular place.”

FINALIST: Glen Annie Golf Club