Feats & Treats

3 innovative Valley workouts to try in the New Year—capped off by decadent rewards.


 If something has been missing from your morning run or you’ve found yourself making grocery lists during yoga class, it may be time for change. From defying gravity to board-bouncing, here are a few progressive ways to ramp up your exercise routine in 2015.

The Workout: Aerial Yoga

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, wait, no, it’s you … suspended three feet off the ground, practicing yoga poses in a hammock of silk! Say what?

“When you’re in the fabric, it’s like getting a giant hug for an hour,” says aerial yoga instructor Kimberely Simonetti.

Less than a year ago Kimberely was teaching students at local parks with a portable, freestanding aerial rig. Nowadays she’s flying high on the Boulevard with her studio, Up Flying Yoga.

Acrobat skills are not required to take an aerial yoga class, and even people with injuries can participate. In fact Kimberely discovered aerial yoga while recovering from a running injury.

“I had to find another activity I could do that was going to use the upper body while my lower body was healing. In the silk loop you get breaks to rest. You’re building your arm and core strength and then relaxing so your muscles are willing to go along for the ride,” she explains.

Ceilings that are 18 feet high hold the rock climbing-grade rigs that Kimberely says were “installed by the same person who handles Cirque du Soleil.” Teachers are patient; laughter is encouraged.

Up Flying Yoga, 11101 Ventura Blvd., Studio 6, Studio City, 310-893-0941, upflyingyoga.com

The Splurge: Vanilla Bread Pudding

The “owner/baker/bread pudding maker” at Sherman Oaks’ Crème Caramel, Kristine de la Cruz, bases her bread puddings on an old family recipe for Filipino leche flan. There are several flavors, but vanilla is our favorite: a warm concoction of custard and egg bread topped by warmed homemade salted caramel sauce that’s truly out of this world. $3.85 to 5.50 each



The Workout: The Bar Method

If you long for a physical challenge that involves sweat and burn, the hour-long class at The Bar Method could be your spot. The studio targets hard-to-reach muscles with intense, low-impact movements drawn from weight training, ballet and Pilates. Stretching and flexibility are also part of the workout.

Unlike some exercise classes (particularly at large chain gyms), instructors here pride themselves on keeping a keen eye on students and offering frequent corrections. “We’re hyper-focused on form and alignment and most importantly safety,” says co-owner and instructor Alysia Moskolis of the newly opened studio.  

The classes stem from a method originally developed by injured ballerina Lotte Berk in the 1950s, which combined physical therapy with dance. Benefits are geared toward achieving toned and healthier physiques. “It will slim you down and definitely improve your posture,” says Alysia.

The Bar Method, 11239 Ventura Blvd., #214, Studio City, 818-985-5438, studiocity.barmethod.com

The Splurge: New York PEPPER Steak

This aged, ridiculously tender New York strip at Mastro’s in Thousand Oaks is a carnivore’s dream.

Rubbed with just the right amount of spice, drizzled with butter and served on a 400º cast-iron plate, the perfectly marbled meat is intensely flavorful. Pair it with the lobster mashed potatoes—a smooth, creamy dish dotted with large chunks of fresh lobster tail, and you’ve experienced nirvana. $56 for 16-ounce steak; $35 for lobster mashed potatoes (enough for 3 servings)



The Workout: The Da Vinci BodyBoard Class

Huffing and puffing on cardio machines for hours but not seeing any results? You might want to check out the Da Vinci BodyBoard class at Pilates Studio City.

Recently developed by instructor Florey Mahoney, the rather simple-looking board is aimed at a head-to-toe shape-up in less than 30 minutes.

Each student stands on the boards that are about the size of a yoga mat. But instead of rubber, they’re made of a piece of thin, flexible wood. Students use the tension from resistance bands fastened to hands and feet; the abs are forced into action as a hinge between the upper and lower body. Students use core strength to maintain balance, with ‘80s dance music thumping in the background.

“Research shows that interval training is more beneficial in burning fat and calories. The idea is to work smart in 25 minutes. Each exercise is about a minute, and then you switch,” says studio co-owner Lora Pavilack.

Pilates Studio City, 11650 Riverside Dr., Suites 1 & 2, Studio City, 818-509-0914, pilatesstudiocity.com

The Splurge: Lemon Curd Cheesecake

Doan’s Bakery in Woodland Hills may be known for their white chocolate coconut cake (Tom Cruise apparently sends it as holiday gifts), but we go bonkers over the lemon cheesecake. The curd’s tangy flavor, derived from freshly squeezed lemons and grated zest, is a perfect complement to the not-too-rich cheesecake and graham cracker crust. A gastronomic experience. $6.50 per mini pie