StarCycle Puts Indoor Cycling in the Spotlight

StarCycle is one of Santa Barbara’s hottest new fitness studios. Courtesy photo.

“It’s a dance party on a bike, like when you’re at a wedding and your jam comes on and you don’t care what anybody thinks — you just get up there and move your body.” That’s how co-owner Dani Stone describes the workout at StarCycle. The La Cumbre Plaza fitness center is part of a new breed of indoor cycling studios that use music and choreography for a physical and mental approach to cycling.

At StarCycle, the lights go off before the 45-minute full-body workout begins.

“The most appealing part to me has been that we work out in the dark, which allows you to really focus on yourself and just ‘do you,’ — modifying as needed,” said Julie Sorenson, who joined the gym on an introductory membership in March 2019 (StarCycle opened on February 28) and recently completed her 170th ride.

“The community there is incredible, and the instructors are super motivating,” she said. “It’s empowering. I can feel the positive energy in the room when I ride. The full-body workout (with weights) has also helped me heal from a shoulder injury.”

Another big appeal for members is that childcare is always available. Moms are the target demographic for the studio, explained co-owner Kayla Johnson-Neal, a personal trainer and fitness professional who’s been working in the industry for 24 years. “With young kids, they are maybe at a phase in life where they aren’t that challenged, so the challenge of doing this workout is like they’ve climbed Mount Everest. It is so fun to watch.”

Themed music rides, ranging from holiday specials to boy bands, Coachella, Stagecoach, and special “naughty rides with explicit lyrics” are also part of the attraction, as is the warm, welcoming atmosphere, where clients are greeted with smiles and hugs.

“I’ve never seen results like this in all of my years of experience. And we’re only a year in now. People have melted,” Johnson-Neal said. “But you know what I love? Weight loss is not what they talk about. Somebody came up to me yesterday and hugged me and started crying and saying, ‘I’m a better wife and a better mom because of StarCycle.’ She’s lost weight, but that’s not where the focus is, and that’s what I think is so cool.”

Tips from Kayla:

  • Find something that you love. “Love” might be an extreme word, but find something that you don’t hate. I’m always telling clients that you need to find a workout that’s going to make you a little bit excited to show up.
  • You don’t have to go all or nothing. It’s just consistency. Maybe it’s kickboxing; maybe it’s Zumba. Just be consistent in that movement.

For more information, visit starcycleride.com/studios/santa-barbara.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on January 21, 2020.

StarCycle co-owner Kayla Johnson-Neal, right, has been in the fitness industry for 24 years, courtesy photo.

Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide 2019

 

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Uptown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Uptown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Downtown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Downtown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Downtown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Downtown Santa Barbara, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Santa Barbara Waterfront, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Santa Barbara Waterfront, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Montecito, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Montecito, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Goleta, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Goleta, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

Santa Ynez Valley, 2019 Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide, SB Independent, December 5, 2019.

GLAM FOR THE HOLIDAYS (OR ANY DAY)

Showbiz ties run in the family of The Starlet Studio owner Ashley Ann Harris, granddaughter of 1940s–era dancer and background actor Marilyn L. Rieses. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

Showbiz ties run in the family of The Starlet Studio owner Ashley Ann Harris, granddaughter of 1940s–era dancer and background actor Marilyn L. Riess. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

The golden age of Hollywood glamour is alive and well at celebrity-makeup artist Ashley Ann Harris’ new The Starlet Studio (thestarletstudio.com) in Westlake Village. Taking inspiration from her grandmother Marilyn L. Riess—a dancer and background actor who appeared in films starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra—Harris says, “The studio was designed to emulate a starlet’s dressing room, but with a modern twist. It is a lush, old Hollywood atmosphere, where you can escape from the everyday and feel like a star with your own personal makeup artist in your private dressing room.”

Harris, who has worked with Brooke Shields, Anna Kendrick, and Hilary Duff, among others, says, “Just like your favorite celebrity getting ready for a red carpet event, you can now enjoy personalized makeup services.” Book early to glam up for the season’s holiday celebrations.

Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, December 2019 805 Living Pulse Dec 2019.

805 Living cover Dec. 2019

Home-Field Appvantage

The West Tenth app is an online showcase for the wares of local home-based businesses, like the luxury paper flower designs of Joyful Creative Events & Production in Simi Valley. Story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

The West Tenth app is an online showcase for
the wares of local home-based businesses,
like the luxury paper flower designs of Joyful
Creative Events & Production in Simi Valley. Story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

“We know that encouraging women to turn their talents into businesses helps unleash economic potential,” says Lyn Johnson, founder of the Conejo Valley–based company West Tenth (wtenth.com), an app she developed to provide free digital storefronts to women who own and operate home-based businesses.

“We are confident that busy households benefit when access to these women-led businesses is made easier,” Johnson says. “And we believe that figuring out both sides of this digital marketplace will ultimately build a modern Main Street that will provide value to households in the 805, L.A., and beyond.”

Whether the entrepreneur is a baker of designer cookies, a detail-driven event planner, a floral artist, a calligrapher, or a provider of one of myriad other creative home-based services, West Tenth can make her business known via its virtual marketplace.

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living cover Dec. 2019Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, December 2019 805 Living Pulse Dec 2019.

2019 Best of Santa Barbara

SB Independent Best of

From the Santa Barbara Independent, October 17, 2019.

So, I had the honor of writing up the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa winners this year. It was a huge, fun project. People were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing (203 winners at last count) by clicking here, or on the PDF below.

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part1

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part2

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part3

Best of Independent Cover

Growth Experience

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

Urban agriculture is having a field day at Funk Zone Farm (Instagram: @funkzonefarm) in Santa Barbara, which opens its farm stand on the first and third Saturdays of each month in the Funk Zone.

“The response has been nothing short of heartwarming,” says Carter Hallman, who runs the farm with Sami Weiss. The couple share a background deeply rooted in food and wine and a “passion for quality grown food and how food affects our environment, health, and culture,” says Hallman.

Created on unused land surrounding the Funk Zone’s Green House Studios artists’ workspace, the farm—which produces a wide variety of veggies, fruits, and flowers—comprises 30 raised beds and a small greenhouse and involves 50 tons of soil and 30 tons of compost.

“We are hoping to influence and educate more people on what local really means on the Central Coast, how good farming affects flavors and nutrients in crops, and how good farming greatly affects our environment,” says Hallman.

“The biggest response is how joyful people look when they leave the farm. They share how we’ve inspired them to start their own backyard gardens [and] how they come back week after week to watch the crops grow, creating a connection and a newfound appreciation for what they’re eating.”  —Leslie Dinaberg

805 sept 2019 coverClick here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019

Eggs Over Easy

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

“It’s Easter every day around here,” says Hayden Clark, founder of Cluck Farms (cluckfarms.com), the Ventura County–based home to 2,000 very happy chickens, who spend their days running around outside, bathing in the dirt (they like that), and feeding on grass, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

The 23-year-old entrepreneur started his fresh-egg delivery business last spring and personally brings the naturally pastel-colored beauties to individuals and businesses from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

“Local word of mouth has been great,” says Clark. “I really try to over-provide service and sometimes even give my customers extra eggs to share—and suggest they go meet their neighbors.” —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019 

805 sept 2019 cover

Puppy Love

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

Are robot puppies the next frontier in dementia treatment? Tombot, Inc. (tombot.com), working with experts from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, has created a realistic robot companion that may help improve the quality of life for a senior who can no longer care for a pet.

“Seniors in general and particularly seniors with dementia have been ignored by the tech world,” says Westlake Village–area resident Tom Stevens, founder and CEO of Tombot. Inspired in part by his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and subsequent need to give up her beloved dog, Stevens and his team have concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign and are now ruggedizing the design specs to ship their first robotic dogs in August 2020. The basic model bot costs $450. With the World Health Organization reporting nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year, the future looks bright for helping seniors with a new kind of puppy love. —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019 805 sept 2019 cover

Local Lowdown: Shop Youth Interactive’s State Gallery

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Pairing student work with local, national and international artists, the nonprofit Youth Interactive’s new Downtown Santa Barbara Gallery is a dynamic new space for the grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy students to showcase and sell their work alongside an impressive array of professional artists.  

You’ll find contemporary work in various mediums, from works on paper, sculpture and assemblage to painting, photography and new media. Everything in the store is artisanal and handmade and the proceeds go back to support the youth and the arts in our community. 

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Home of the original State Theatre and more recently the Unity Shoppe, the large open space celebrates Poetry Month in April with Word Up!, a fundraiser led by Santa Barbara Middle College students during First Thursday Art Walk from 5 – 8 p.m. on April 4. The gallery also showcases the work of Santa Barbara printmaker Bay Hallowell in an exhibition called Truth be Told, showcasing a compilation of works combining art and text. 

Later in April comes an exhibition titled Grounded, a group exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture connecting us to the ground we walk on and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with works by artists Cynthia James, Ryuijie and Luis Velasquez.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Among the youth-led business with their work consistently on view in the gallery are: Infinite Treasures, students create handmade jewelry while learning valuable business skills; Pier Pressure Designs, a team of teens makes beautiful bags out of recycled sails donated by SB Yacht Club, and fabric donated by Patagonia and others; Havok, a group of young entrepreneurs who design original works of art on T-shirts; RBY (Resurrected by Youth), a team of high school kids learning carpentry, business, marketing and general entrepreneurship skills; and The Creative Studio Team, which creates and sells art while managing the gallery. 

Youth Interactive’s State Gallery (1219 State St., Santa Barbara, youthinteractive.us) is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays, with extended hours during exhibit openings and special events. 

—Leslie Dinaberg

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

 

Cocktail Corner: Fess Parker Winery’s 30th Anniversary

Rodney's Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

Rodney’s Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Marking the 30th anniversary of Fess Parker Winery, Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort honors the Parker Family-owned winery’s big milestone with an exclusive dinner, the “Fess Parker Wine Journey,” from 6 – 10 p.m. on Friday, March, 22 in the resort’s Reagan Ballroom.

It’s going to be a fun—and delicious—evening, kicking off with a video presentation and a Q&A with the Parker Family, hosted by yours truly. Since their first vineyard planting in 1987, the Fess Parker family has enjoyed a long, successful history in Santa Barbara County, helping to pioneer the region’s reputation as an international destination for wine, hospitality and discovery, as well as developing many of the county’s prestigious vineyards.

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now owns and farms more than 125 acres and works with more than 700 acres in Santa Barbara County, focusing on the grape varieties best suited to the region’s unique growing conditions—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rhone wines—with its vintages consistently earning 90+ point ratings from top critics around the world.

Eli Parker—a founding family member and former head winemaker reflects on the occasion: “Our greatest hope is that people who have enjoyed our wines over the last 30 years will continue to enjoy them as part of their own family traditions and celebrations. Even more so, we hope that people just discovering Fess Parker wines will appreciate them as the finest expression of the beauty and bounty of Santa Barbara wine country. Continuing to work together toward this objective as a family is a real privilege.”

“We mark this anniversary with equal parts pride and gratitude – pride for the quality we have achieved with our wines in national and international markets and gratitude for the opportunity to grow our business while remaining family held. By playing to our strengths and focusing on working with the Rhône and Burgundian varietals that grow so well here, hopefully we have set ourselves up well for the next 30 years. We are fortunate to have a tremendous winemaking team under the direction of Head Winemaker, Blair Fox, who celebrates his 15th anniversary with the winery this year as well,” says winery President Tim Snider.

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as "Daniel Boone," March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as “Daniel Boone,” March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

Both Eli Parker and Tim Snider will be on hand at the event, along with winery co-owner Ashley Parker Snider and their daughter Greer Shull, who does marketing for the brand, which also includes the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, as well as the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos, which also houses The Bear and Star restaurant, featuring refined ranch-to-table cuisine from Chef/Partner John Cox.

“Our team is honored to host a wine and culinary celebration for Fess Parker Winery’s 30-year anniversary,” says Hilton Santa Barbara General Manager Chris Inman. “Our goal is to create a memorable evening that speaks to seasoned Fess Parker Winery fans as well as a new generation of wine lovers.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Executive Chef Mossin Sugich and his culinary team will prepare a fresh and delicious culinary adventure paired with the Fess Parker’s signature wines. The five-course wine pairing dinner menu includes:

Cocktail Hour Canapes

Poached fingerling potato, caviar and crème fraiche

Foie Gras, Brioche, Fig Jam

Beef Tartare, crostini

Amuse bouche

Black Mission Fig, Mascarpone, jamon de Parma, Sicilian pistachio

Fess Parker Rodney’s Dry Riesling 2016 and Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2017

To Begin

Spring Bounty Dégustation

Spring Onion Flan, pickled ramp, English pea puree, green garlic chips, pea tendril, black olive dirt

lemon oil

Viogner, Rodney’s Vineyard 2017

To Appreciate

Channel Islands Treasures

Spot Prawns & sea urchins, morel mushroom crème, crispy cauliflower, lemon, Tarragon

Chardonnay, Ashley’s 2016

To Continue

State Bird Roulade

Mushroom stuffed Quail, celeriac puree, celery and apple salad, almond oil

Sour Port reduction

Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2017

To Indulge

California Spring Lamb

Grilled fat on lamb loin, Pine nut coulis, minted & pickled green strawberries

morel mushroom, fava beans, lamb jus

Syrah, Santa Barbara County

To Conclude

Harrys Berries Strawberry Panna Cotta

Meyer lemon granita, fresh Harry’s Berries

Late Harvest Semillon 2009

All menu items are locally sourced and subject to change based on seasonal quality and product availability.

I hope some of you will join us on March 22 for this very special night honoring the Parker Family and Fess Parker’s legacy.

“Knowing that a career in Hollywood wasn’t necessarily a long-term proposition, creating a family business that all of us could participate in for generations was important to my dad,” says Ashley Parker Snider. “Before he passed in 2010, he was incredibly proud of how far we had come.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort is located at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please call 805/884-8518 or email SBAFP_SpecialEvents@hilton.com.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life!

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.