Amy Ramos uses the Stick Mobility training sticks | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom
Former college and Arena Football League running back Julian Hayes now teaches fitness classes in Santa Barbara | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

If my friend Laura hadn’t moved several years ago, I might have discovered Julian Hayes’s community workouts sooner. Laura and I used to walk our dogs through Shoreline Park on weekends, but I stopped frequenting the park when she decamped to Orange County. So, it ended up being my dance friend Gina who told me about Hayes’s Saturday classes in Shoreline Park: “basically like a personal training session for a very reasonable donation,” she raved.

Hayes, a former college and Arena Football League running back, is something of a fitness Renaissance man. He holds certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, nutrition coach, and wellness coach. He trained as a yoga instructor at Power of Your Om, self-published a book on nutrition, and he often shares fresh produce after class. Hayes has been offering the class at Shoreline since 2018 because he “wanted to get outside, connect with nature, and make exercise accessible for people who couldn’t afford a gym membership.”

He calls his workouts “Adult PE.” But don’t worry — there’s no running laps, getting hit with a dodgeball, or being picked last for a team. As Gina told me, the class is generally small enough for Hayes to provide a lot of individualized feedback and gentle correction, often followed by an exclamation of “Beautiful!” when he sees improved form. At the classes I took, most attendees knew Hayes from the various gyms and fitness studios where he’s taught over the years.

Hayes’s workouts emphasize mobility and functional strength, incorporating a lot of simple but deceptively effective equipment. Participants might start in a circle and toss three-pronged, multicolored HECOstix to each other. HECO stands for “hand-eye coordination,” and Hayes might first have the group catch the lightweight, foam-covered objects by grasping the red prong or blue prong, then toss and catch them right-handed or left-handed, standing on one foot, behind the back, or Kareem skyhook-style. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, he’ll have you change directions from clockwise to counterclockwise. It’s a warmup for the brain as well as the body, and both laughter and apologies ring out as the sticks go errant or get dropped.

Hayes makes extensive use of versatile Stick Mobility training sticks — for stability when doing backward lunges, and for support and resistance when doing a standing plank or hamstring stretches, for example. The curtsy lunges we did while monkey-hanging from two sticks were a revelation — I got way more from those than all the curtsy lunges I’ve done while holding dumbbells.

Former college and Arena Football League running back Julian Hayes | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Participants demonstrate their version of “The Ministry of Silly Walks” | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Resistance bands are a classic fitness prop, and Hayes provides nice wide ones made from knitted fabric instead of the rubber ones that roll up and dig into your thighs. I’m sure we looked like Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch as we advanced in a straight line, lifting our knees high, resistance bands around our legs above the knee. But the quad workout was no joke.

Amy Ramos at Julian Hayes’ class at Shoreline Park. | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

The Inertia Wave Duo is a device similar to battle ropes (which I hate with a passion) but designed to be used by two people. Grasping the handles at each end, you and your partner use the strength of your whole bodies to make the rubberized ropes oscillate up and down or move like old-school Double Dutch jump ropes. Just a few seconds of that, and my partner Josefina and I were both breathing hard.

Hayes may also have you slip the belt of the VertiMax Raptor around your waist. The portable system provides resistance as you walk and run forward and backward and side to side for an effective cardio workout.

As someone trying to preserve my joints for a planned active old age, I appreciated that Hayes’s workouts offered intensity without heavy weights or high impact. Hayes describes the community workout as part of an overall wellness practice, and I found his holistic approach to fitness inspiring and genuine. Although we were there for a challenging workout, and the sun never broke through the May gray/June gloom, Hayes always encouraged us to bask in the beauty of the outdoors, and to observe and enjoy our surroundings, whether admiring a flock of pelicans on the wing, listening to the grunting of the cormorants perched in a nearby tree, or watching the rowers in a regatta powering along the coast.

I still miss my friend Laura, but I’ve been glad to get back to Shoreline Park.

Community Workout with Coach Julian Hayes is generally held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. at Shoreline Park, at Shoreline Drive across from Las Ondas Street. To get on the email list, follow Hayes on Instagram @heismanhayes or email No pre-registration required. Wear sunscreen, layers, shoes you don’t mind getting wet/dirty, and maybe a hat or sunglasses. Donation recommended (cash or online payment apps). 

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