Health Club • Fitness Program
Jenny Schatzle Program
211 W. Carrillo St.; 845-6700; jennyschatzle.com
You see them jogging along Carrillo Street during rush hour or hustling inside Jenny Schatzle’s studio on stationary bikes. Nearby on mats, men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes twist and jump and sweat. Somehow, they’re always smiling. Schatzle’s students swear by her fitness and nutrition programs, arguing they’re more than just cardio routines and meal schedules — they’re holistic, life-changing game plans with weight loss and toned bodies just icing on the low-calorie cake. “Don’t just change your body,” Schatzle likes to say. “Change your life.”
Runner-Up (Health Club): YMCA
Runner-Up (Fitness Program): Killer B Fitness
Two locations; corepoweryoga.com
With 170 locations nationwide, CorePower is the largest privately held chain of yoga studios in the United States. But don’t think for a minute that means the company is some kind of coldhearted, cookie-cutter corporation. Each studio is full of bright, talented instructors with loyal followings of satisfied, supportive clients who pack online message boards with notes of gratitude. Meghan Hambacher Wilkinson wrote on Facebook: “It’s a gem. A community. With one visit you get a workout, a sense of peace, and a smile to make your day.” And Madison Claire wrote: “Great workout. I died — in a good way!”
Runner-Up: Yoga Soup
330 State St.; 901-3440; fitbuddhafitness.com
“Joy, and so much gratitude, as Santa Barbara has so many [pilates studios] to choose from.” That was the first thing that popped into co-owner Eva Kettles’s head when she heard Fit Buddha had once again come out on top. The most satisfying part of her job? “To observe the daily transformation within each client, their dedication to making themselves a better person, inside and out. The rapid growth that is possible. Amazing!” So what’s next for Kettles and her crew? “Many more Fit Buddha Studios so more people can transform not only on a physical level but also evolve mentally and spiritually. Thank you, Santa Barbara!”
Runner-Up: Core Sport
Martial Arts Studio
Martial Arts Family Fitness
122 E. Gutierrez St.; 963-6233; kickboxers.com
Grandmaster Dave Wheaton and his wife, Master Mel Meyer, who cofounded Martial Arts Family Fitness in 2002, are both the real deal. Wheaton holds a 9th Dan Black Belt in hapkido and a 7th Dan in taekwondo, and he developed his own system of self-defense called Dynamic Circle Hapkido. Mel is a 5th Dan Black Belt recently inducted into the Karate Union Hall of Fame who patented the award-winning fitness program KUT (Kickboxers Ultimate Training). The two have made their studio into a family affair, with their sons Master Austin and Master Garret teaching classes and helping run the business. The grandkids are even starting to pitch in, too.
Runner-Up: Paragon Academy
Santa Barbara Dance Arts
531 E. Cota St.; 966-5299; sbdancearts.com
Santa Barbara Dance Arts teaches its budding artists grace, beauty, and poise. Under the direction of Alana Tillim, the company’s pupils enjoy their time in a fun, supportive environment of guidance. But there’s something else the instructors work hard to instill in their students: grit. In this month’s newsletter, Dance Arts explains why: “Recent events in our society show the benefits of grit for our female students. We are at a cultural crossroads, and the future is female! We take our role seriously as mentors and guides for these smart and powerful women we help raise.”
Runner-Up: Gustafson Dance
El Capitán State Beach
Easy access? Check. Stunning ocean views? Check. Friendly staff? Check. El Capitán State Beach has all the trappings of a great camping spot and then some, with its surf break, choice fishing, and famed Santa Barbara weather. Plus, you get the feel of a getaway without losing cell service. Kimmy, an El Cap regular and TripAdvisor reviewer, had this to say about the fees: “The CA State Park system has faced many financial challenges, and I don’t mind paying more for the sites because I use them regularly. The rangers do a very good job with the limited resources they have.”
Runner-Up: Refugio State Beach
Camping Gear Store
321 Anacapa St.; 560-1938; rei.com
REI is one of those stores where you think you absolutely need everything inside. The funny thing is, sometimes you do, just to survive — or at the very least, to enjoy your time outside. From tents to ice picks to socks to lip balm, this venerable camping gear mecca isn’t just a warehouse of stuff, however. Its staff teach classes on navigation, kayaking, bike maintenance, and so on, with an accessibility and confidence that’s tough to find anywhere else. With an REI in our backyard, there’s no excuse to stay indoors.
Runner-Up: Mountain Air Sports
Channel Islands Surfboards
36 Anacapa St.; 966-7213; cisurfboards.com
The Peregrine. Dumpster Diver. Twin Fin. Weirdo Ripper. These surfboard models named by beachy poets belong to Channel Islands Surfboards, Santa Barbara’s undisputed champ of wave-riding merchandise. Started in 1969 by Al and Terry Merrick, the shop has been handed down to son Britt, who carries on the family tradition of shaping high-performance boards and collaborating with some of the world’s top surfers. Customers can’t recommend them highly enough, even from across the globe, such as Bob Braunton on Facebook: “Great store. Loads of interesting surf gear, staff are friendly and helpful. Call in if you get a chance — we did all the way from the U.K.”
Runner-Up: Surf n’ Wear’s Beach House
2275 Ortega Hill Rd., Summerland; 969-2887; bikinifactory.com
A staple of Santa Barbara swimwear for going on 50 years, the Bikini Factory is still churning out happy customers who get their pick from hundreds of bikinis, including Brazilian-brand bikinis, bikini separates, and dozens of one-piece bathing suits. The store prides itself on offering enough choices to fit all different styles and body types, which made customer Tara D. one happy gal: “LOVE this cute little shop!” she recently wrote on Yelp. “I always struggle to find swimsuits that I really love, but I found more than I could handle here thanks to their great selection and amazing service!”
Runner-Up: A Tropical Affair
Snowboard/Ski Gear Store
Mountain Air Sports
14 State St.; 962-0049; mountainairsports.com
There’s a place by the beach that’s meant for the snow, filled as it is with skis, snowboards, and all the accoutrements of cold-weather play. There’s gear for climbers and kayak fishers, too. Mountain Air Sports inventory managers certainly know their stuff, customers say, because every item is selected with a great deal of product experience and a keen sense of aesthetics. The staff are knowledgeable but laid-back. No pushy salespeople here. You’ll want to buy everything, and you should.
320 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta; 682-4699; bicyclebobs-sb.com
From start to finish, the folks at Bicycle Bob’s make it easy, whether you’re buying a high-end Trek or learning basic maintenance at one of their in-store clinics. Lycra-strapped weekend warriors feel just as home there as wide-eyed kids getting comfortable on their first rides. They even have a trade-up program for fast-growing youngsters, letting customers trade a kid’s bike for the next size up within three years for up to 40 percent of the original value. There’s a good reason this bike shop has won our Best Of for nearly three decades running.
Runner-Up: Hazard’s Cyclesport
30 S. La Patera Ln., Goleta; powell-peralta.com
Founded in 1978 by aerospace engineer George Powell and pioneering Z-Boys skateboarder Stacy Peralta, Powell-Peralta is still one of the biggest and baddest skate brands around. Its staying power is all the more impressive considering how dramatically the sport, and the tastes of its participants, have evolved over the years. Justin Stork is a longtime follower. “Powell-Peralta is the sh*t,” he said on Facebook. “Flight decks especially — responsive to your actions, great concave, pop insanely well.” Shell Goldstein is also of fan of their decks, but for different reasons: “They’re nice to eat your lunch off of and they’re sick for going to church with.”
Runner-Up: Lighthouse Skateshop
Place to Get Athletic Shoes
Santa Barbara Running
110 Anacapa St.; 899-8802; sbrunningco.com
Never, ever underestimate how important a pair of good shoes is to your giddy-up. The good people at Santa Barbara Running impart that wisdom without even a hint of the patronizing air that can come with specialty stores. They’re all runners themselves and take great pride in keeping feet happy on the road or trail, whether they belong to elite sprinters or casual joggers. Get your apparel and snack bars there too. The family-owned joint has been operating out of the Funk Zone since 2003 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Runner-Up: Deckers Brand Showcase
Glen Annie Golf Club
405 Glen Annie Rd., Goleta; 968-6400; glenanniegolf.com
Flanked by the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, 18 holes of golf never looked so good. Not a golfer? Not a problem. The course doubles as a picture-perfect wedding or special event venue. But if you do feel like taking a few swings, a few tips: The back nine are a little hilly, so save up your clutch shots for later in the day. The greens can get quite fast — watch your power on those longer putts. And make sure you save time to hit the restaurant. The food and the service are home runs (just to mix our sports metaphors).
Runner-Up: Sandpiper Golf Club
Place to Shoot Pool
Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
18 E. Ortega St.; 568-0702; darganssb.com
Come for the bangers and mash and stay for the pool. Still, after all these years, Dargan’s remains a staple nighttime stop for tourists and locals alike, what with its delicious food, easy charm, killer music, and phalanx of pool tables that are somehow always busy but never crowded. The drinks come quick and strong to loosen any nerves brought on by a sharky challenger or good-looking date. The balls, cues, and felt are all top-notch.
Runner-Up: Don Q Family Billiard Center
It never gets old, no matter how many times you crest that final turn to reveal the city below. Neither does that moment of contemplation as your beating heart starts to slow and the sweat on your brow catches a cool breeze. Inspiration comes in many forms — whether it’s to hike the trail again next weekend, explore more of the front country from then on, or plan a much-earned lunch in town. Get there early to avoid the heat and crowds.
Runner-Up: Cold Spring Trail