A Day Away: The Oaks at Ojai

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Looking for a bit of spring cleaning for the mind, body and soul? The Oaks at Ojai (122 E. Ojai Ave.) is a great place to refresh and recharge your spirit any time of the year. I had a girlfriend getaway for a few days last fall and was pleasantly surprised and charmed at every turn.

Spring is an even better time to visit The Oaks, as April in Ojai brings special celebrations to honor the Pixie Tangerine, a special orange orb grown only in that area. In prior years, The Oaks’s guests have devoured more than 7,000 sweet, seedless Pixies during Pixie month. Expect to find special deals on tangerine tints and scents everywhere this time of year.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks is first and foremost a health spa, offering an all-inclusive healthy fitness and weight loss program with up to 15 optional fitness classes every day; hikes; three surprisingly tasty calorie-conscious meals per day, plus snacks and beverages; an on-site health advisor; evening activities and wellness lectures; and complete use of all resort facilities.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Other than spa treatments (which are included with some of the package deals), you won’t have to open your wallet for anything additional at The Oaks. Everything is included, which makes it a perfect time to try out new types of fitness classes. In just a couple of days, I was able to take classes in yoga, aqua cardio, Qigong, stretching, Zumba, aqua tone,Pilates and world grooves dance. Hiking, cardio/sculpting, balance, ballet/barre, dance Beliu and ball & band toning are also offered, along with other classes. There’s also a pool and a nicely outfitted weight room, for those who can’t get enough fitness!

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

The pampering side of the spa experience is also well done, with a nice steam room and sauna available, as well as any spa treatment your heart desires. I had an excellent Skin Authority Signature Facial, as well as a pedicure that lasted several weeks beyond my spa experience.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

The food was also surprising tasty. Quinoa was once a dirty word in our house, but after trying Chef Christine Denney’s clever incarnations, I’m hooked and have tried several ideas from her Recipes From the Heart cookbook. All in all, the 1,200- 1,500-calorie-per-day menu was balanced and tasty, inspired by an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein featuring wild fish and poultry, all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Sure, my friend and I brought in our own wine to reward ourselves at night after all of those exercise classes, but it wasn’t because we were actually hungry!

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

An active and inspiring presence at the resort is founder Sheila Cluff, an internationally known fitness expert who created cardiovascular dance in the 1950s, later known as “Aerobics,” and pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa in the 1970s. Now an 80-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Cluff still leads some of the brisk morning walks and hikes at The Oaks and absolutely embodies the lifestyle she teaches.

Cluff has said that she created the retreat to fit the needs of women over 40, and we certainly make up the bulk of the clientele these days. That’s not to say that all ages (and men) are not welcome. The Oaks at Ojai is truly a great place for a girlfriend getaway, but the spa’s approach is casual and welcoming to all, as well as affordable and fun. Plus the charming 1920s Spanish Mission Revival-style hotel fits right in with the artsy laid-back vibe of the town and is right on the main drag of Ojai, within walking distance to boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. It’s an excellent place to regenerate or spring clean your mind, body, and spirit.  

Leslie Dinaberg

The Oaks at Ojai, 122 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 800/753-OAKS (6257), oaksspa.com.

Originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

The “W’s” of Working Out

stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

The symphony of treadmills and weight machines always gets a little louder this time of year-whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, a few too many latkes or too much eggnog, or the gift of a gym membership-getting fit is one of the most popular goals at the start of each year. Here are some options to suit every workout style.

Who: The Gym Rat

What: Santa Barbara Athletic Club has awesome equipment and a vast variety of workout options, including Pilates, Spinning, indoor and outdoor weight rooms, swimming, squash and racquetball.

When: Monday – Thursday: 5:00 am – 10:30 pm; Friday: 5:00 am – 10:00 pm; Saturday: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Where: 520 Castillo Street.

Wear: For a guilt-free, post workout treat, head to the new supplement/protein bar at Montecito Athletic Club (40 Los Patos Way, Montecito).

Who: The Mom

What: Enlist with “General” Stacey Cooper on a BootyCampSB mission to “raise your fitness level and your booty to new heights.”

When: Kids work out for free at the Parent-Child Booty Camp every Monday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Girsh Park, 7050 Phelps Road, Goleta.

Wear: Head to Eddie Bauer (130 S. Hope Ave., La Cumbre Plaza) for the “essential daypack bottle” loaded with all the gear you’ll need to survive a day with the kids.

Who: The Beach Babe

What: Try Moms in Motion’s Stand Up Paddle Board team for “the most fun you can have on the water-while improving your balance, upper body and core strength.”

When: Sundays at 8 a.m.

Where: Leadbetter Beach, Shoreline Drive and Loma Alta.

Wear: You can rent equipment or splurge on a Kialoa -Nalu Stand Up Surf Paddle from Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Harbor).

Who: The Couch Potato

What: Try a Jazz Dance or Hip Hop Class at Santa Barbara Dance Arts (formerly Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy). You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you’re working out till the pounds start sweating off.

When: Jazz Mondays at 6:45 p.m.; Beginning/Intermediate Hip Hop Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Advanced Hip Hop Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Where: 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez #100.

Wear: Pick up your dancing shoes at Harlequin’s Theatrical Supply (17 W. Gutierrez St.).

Who: The Yogini

What: Yoga Soup has a fun variety of classes, with owner Eddie Ellner’s good karma philosophy of “pay what you can,” for his eclectic “soupy mix” of classes.

When: Tuesdays at 5 p.m.; Tuesdays; Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.; and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Where: 28 Parker Way.

Wear: Head to Drishti (130 E. Canon Perdido St.) for a Manduka eKO eco-friendly yoga mat and a comfy pair of their “Beyond Yoga” pants or capris that are so stylish you’ll want to wear them all day long.

Who: The Jock

What: At Dr. Bob Wilcher’s Killer B Fitness, this Chiropractor/Personal Trainer will whip-we mean motivate-you into shape whether your goal is to run a marathon or sweat off a few sizes in his few frills, no mercy private gym.

When: By appointment, call 805-448-2222 for information.

Where: 126 Powers Ave.

Wear: Lucy (3825 State St., La Cumbre Plaza) offers a new “core power collection” of tops stay soft, comfortable and dry, no matter how much you sweat.

Who: The Hiker

What: The Santa Barbara Sierra Club offers a variety of hikes for every fitness level from the occasional hiker to the diehard backpackers.

When: Hikers meet weekly on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. and Friday nights at 6:15 p.m., destination are chosen at the meeting points.

Where: Santa Barbara Mission, Laguna and Los Olivos Streets. Also visit www.santabarbarahikes.com for additional hikes scheduled every weekend from a variety of locations and terrains.

Wear: Head to Santa Barbara Oufitters (1200 State St.) to pick up one of Ex Officio’s “Insect Repellent” hats, which are great for those sunny, buggy hikes on the beach. Plus, rain or shine, you can take a trek up their indoor climbing wall.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in 2009.