Best of the Beach 2018 Sports
Jamie Meistrell of Dive N’ Surf has been friends with Ian Blackmore since they were kids. Both of them loved surfing, and they often hit the waves together. But Blackmore, Meistrell recalled, was always interested in board design.
He has since taken that interest and shaped it into iᐧbe surfboards, a burgeoning underground label serving South Bay surfers. Two things set Blackmore apart as a shaper, Meistrell said. First, he still tears it up in the water. And second, he has never been afraid to ask for help from veterans in the industry.
This eagerness to learn has served Blackmore, a Redondo native, well. He takes his craft seriously, but remains humble. Told that he won, he was quick to credit other local shapers, including Pat Ryan, Don Kadowaki and Ry Harris.
Blackmore recently took his education further afield, venturing to Hawaii to learn under the famed Matt Kinoshita at Kazuma Surfboards in Hawaii. That experience, Meistrell said, has taken his shaping “to a whole other level.”
“Ian knows exactly what the customer wants,” Meistrell said.
Blackmore said his primary interest is in shaping performance shortboards, but he is willing to shape whatever his customers ask for. Lately, he said, the trend in this part of Los Angeles County has been for retro longboards and fish shapes.
“I kind of wish more people were choosing that discipline over the forgiveness of a fish or longboard. But I’ll shape whatever the customer is looking for,” he said.
Over his decades in the water, Blackmore has seen trends in board preference come and go. But he is hopeful that surfers rediscover the personal relationship that a surfer can develop with a shaper. When not shaping, Blackmore can be found hunting waves across Southern California. He’ll travel from San Clemente to Big Sur, but just as he vouches for connecting with a local shaper, there’s nothing like pumping surf close to home.
“I’ll travel for surf, but obviously my heart lies with those Redondo tubes,” Blackmore said.
640 Cypress Ave.
Best shop shaper: Pat Ryan, ET Surfboards
To the person ordering his or her first surfboard, Pat Ryan has a question: How do you see yourself on a surfboard? What do you aspire to do?
“If you approach someone on the sales floor, they might be surprised to hear that. Now, if someone is in the longboard section, they probably want a longboard. But do you want to noseride and cruise? Or do you want to do a lot of turns?” Ryan said.
Ryan has five decades in the surfboard industry, stretching back to his days on the Greg Noll Surf Team, where he met ET Surfboards owner Eddie Talbot. In the late ‘60s, amid sweeping changes in surfboard manufacturing technology and rider preferences, the duo took the remnants of Greg Noll Surfboards and set up a fiberglass-and-resin operation out of their apartment.
These raw beginnings eventually developed into ET’s current operation on Aviation Boulevard in Hermosa Beach, which has been catering to — and employing — hot surfers of the South Bay for 46 years. During that time, Ryan became one of the most respected shapers in the region, developing signature boards for ET like his King Fish model.
The advantage of ET, Ryan said, is that the people in the shop are almost always excellent surfers or skaters themselves.
“Anyone who’s up there really knows what they’re talking about,” he said, referring to the shop’s second floor stock of surfboards.
“You’re responsible for a broader range than ever before: first it was just longboards. Then there were shortboards. And now there’s everything in between,” Ryan said.
And although technology has changed too, with some shapers relying on new materials and greater automation, much of Ryan’s craft would look familiar to his much-younger self. He referred to Tom Wegener, a former South Bay resident who moved to Australia and wrote a dissertation at the University of the Sunshine Coast that eventually became the book “Surfboard Artisans for the Love.” The book tracked a wide variety of approaches to surfboard design that have emerged since the 1960s, and noted that the best boards are still made essentially the same way. Ryan called it a “fluke,” but when he turns his focus to a board, the result is something closer to magic.
Pat Ryan, ET Surf
904 Aviation Blvd.
2461 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Dive N’ Surf
Last Summer, after a decade spent working his way up from sale assistant to assistant manager, with time put in as a scuba gear technician, Chris Kelly was named manager of Dive N’ Surf. He stepped in as an opportune time. The previous year, the Meistrell family spun off its Body Glove division, freeing Dive N’ Surf to carry wetsuit brands other than Body Glove. Equally significant was the 2014 expansion of the Dive N’ Surf store, which gave the shop space to stock a range of surf and dive wetsuit brands. They now include surf suit makers Quiksilver/Roxy, Ripcurl, Vissla and local custom wetsuit makers 7 ‘til 8. The dive suit selection has been expanded to include Henderson, Waterproof and Scubapro.
The enlarged space has also allowed Dive N’ Surf to expand its surfboard selection. Local shapers such as Jacobs and Andy Prunauer (Proper surfboards) are offered alongside Sharp Eye boards that have become popular on the pro tour.
The remodel included enlargement of the pool at the back of the store, where over 60,000 divers have earned their scuba certification.
What the store retained from the small 1958 store was its deep diving and surf heritage. A priceless collections of dive gear and surfboards are on display, including founder Bob and Bill Meistrell’s a balsa “slot” board, shaped by pioneer surfer Bob Simmons.
“Dive N’ Surf has a lot of heritage starting with my dad Bob and his brother Bill, who invented the modern wetsuit, legendary surfboard shapers Dale Velzy and Hap Jacobs, who were early partners in the shop, and Dive N’ Surf co-founder and pioneer diver Bev Morgan,” said Robbie Meistrell.
Dive N Surf
504 N. Broadway
Winner-Up: Freedive N Spear
950 Aviation Blvd. #B
Best yoga studio: Soho
Yoga as a discipline counts its history in millenia, but it all leads back to the same place: India Though the practice has evolved greatly over the years, there is something to be said for practicing in a place that feels like the subcontinent.
Soho Yoga in Hermosa Beach is a studio with two rooms. One of them is unheated, while the other is specially designed with infrared heat to deliver a temperature and humidity level that experienced teachers say mimics the feel of being in the land of Iyengar and Krishnamacharya. Combined with a roster of teachers with deep knowledge of anatomy and light-hearted attitudes, Soho has cared out a niche for itself in downtown Hermosa.
Soho Yoga was founded by three big fans of yoga. General Manager Pete Niva became friends with professional basketball player Richard Jefferson while the two were in college in Arizona. Both became fans of instructor Natasha Snow Needles, and several years ago the trio decided to fill what they saw as a void in heated yoga offerings in the South Bay. Snow Needles now serves as the studio’s yoga director, and also leads its popular teacher training program.
In just a few years, the studio has already put down deep roots. Paintings by local artists decorate the walls, and it got involved in charity efforts last fall to provide relief to hurricane victims. Soho also sponsored one of the top teams in last summer’s Charlie Saikley Six Man Volleyball Tournament.
But perhaps the best way to see how connected Soho is to the South Bay is to stand on the corner of Pier and Hermosa avenues in the morning or late afternoon. “Rush hour” can start to take on a whole new meaning, as you see dozens of people hurrying down the block, yoga mats under their arms, bound for Soho’s doors. They’re chasing the bliss they find inside.
1242 Hermosa Ave.
When Hermosa Bike founder “Shu” Shumaker died in 2002, he willed his shop to four kids who had formerly worked for him — Steve Collins, Larry Burke, Ken Liebowitz and Mark McNeill.
The four continue to operate Hermosa Cyclery as a full-service bike shop that includes sales and rentals, but most importantly as an institution of Old Hermosa.
“We’ve won the Best of the Beach award 10 straight years and we love what we do,”
Collins said. “We’re happy to work with the community everyday.”
Collins is a member of the Board of Directors of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition.
“We encourage people to ride,” added Collins, who has worked at Hermosa Cyclery since he was 16 years old. “It’s a healthy lifestyle with lots of participants.”
On Saturday, March 17 Hermosa Cyclery will be joining the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Hermosa Beach. Riders are encouraged to sign up at the store. Prior to the ride, a Best Bike Contest will be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. with 10 categories of winners.
20 13th St., Hermosa Beach
(310) 374-7816. hermosacyclery.com
Runner-Up: Helen Cycles
1570 Rosecrans Ave. #C, Manhattan Beach
(310) 321-5290. Helenscycles.com
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Dick’s Sporting Goods earned the praise of gun control advocates and the scorn of the National Rifle Association with its announcement that it will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21, and will no longer sell assault-style rifles like the AR-15 used in the Florida high school massacre. Locally, the decision may be largely symbolic, because their El Segundo location is best known for its team, individual sports and weight lifting equipment. For runners, Dick’s offers an online calendar with new shoe release dates.
770 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
1800 Rosecrans Ave, Ste E
Body One Fitness/Lou Sidella
It wasn’t until he was almost 30 years old that Lou Sidella decided it was time to lose weight. He tipped the scales at 240 lbs. With 27.5% body fat. Sidella became certified as a trainer and spent the next nine months trying to lose weight. Though he lost 40 lbs, and dropped his body fat to 16.5 percent, he was still uncomfortable. He sought professional help and gained the courage to enter a 12 week before-and-after contest that changed his life.
“Eight weeks into the contest, I had co-workers asking me to train them,” Sidella said. “I decided I’d give it a shot, and a few months later Body One Fitness was founded. Years later, I was still able to maintain my results from the contest – 182 lbs. and 8 percent body fat.
“I’m definitely not the most knowledgeable guy,” Sidella said. “But I’ve learned how to come across to clients and give them that extra push. I work with the different needs of clientele,”
At Body One Fitness Sidella offers an array of classes, from Hi-Volume, Cross Training to Plyometric Training.
“We just celebrated our 8th Anniversary and still have members from 2010-11,” owner Lou Sidella said.
Personal trainer runner-up: Steve Maresca
Specialty Gym runner-up: South Bay Trainer
3865 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance
South Bay Trainer owner and head trainer Josh Sola was an overweight kid who spent hours playing video games. Then he lost 80 pounds and became a certified trainer so he could help others achieve their fitness goals.
His certified trainers provide quality, affordable personal training in a comfortable, friendly community atmosphere. A broad spectrum of workouts is offered for youths seniors, bodybuilders fitness buffs and people who simply want to lose weight. The facility also attracts numerous athletes from surrounding high schools.
Unlike most other gyms, there are no contracts, sign-up, cancellation or membership fees and prices are competitive.
“We base our training solely on our clients’ goals and abilities. Everyone deserves to be both happy and healthy and that is what we strive to achieve through honesty, integrity, and passion,” Sola said.
3865 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance. (310) 341-8559. Southbaytrainer.com
One purpose of a health club is to prepare its members to enjoy the great outdoors. The Bay Club in Redondo Beach does that by providing an outdoor pool overlooking the King Harbor, a deck with rowing machines also overlooking the harbor and an outdoor cross training area. since the Northern California-based group took over the Redondo club, it has added regular social functions, creating a country club atmosphere. (Bay Club also recently acquired the Manhattan Beach Country Club). Bay Club Redondo offers classes on Mind & Body, Group Fitness, Strength Training, Aquatics and Cycling. The Redondo Beach location also offers a childcare play area, racquetball boxing and indoor-outdoor cardio track.
Redondo Beach: 819 N. Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach. (310) 376-9443; South Bay: 2250 Park Place, El Segundo. (310) 643-6878; Rolling Hills: 51 Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates. (310) 541-2582. Bayclubs.com
Runner-Up: 24 Hour Fitness
1601 Pacific Coast Hwy Suite 100.
Elite Training Center
Elite Training Center was founded on the four principles of Respect, Honor, Discipline and Strength and teaches adult and youth mixed martial arts, These include LOTAR (close quarter battle techniques), Krav Maga (self defense), Muay Thai kickboxing and Kali/Silat/Escrima (Filipino open hand and stick fighting). The Hermosa and Redondo locations are overseen by Chief Instructor Brian Rauchbach, who has over 24 years of martial arts experience.
“What sets Elite apart is our relationships with students,” instructor Sean Derhammer said. “We have a profound impact not just on our students, but on our instructors as well. It’s a pay it forward concept.”
They have shared their skills with local law enforcement, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, and other U.S. special operations groups.
“We have a clientele that ranges from soccer moms to federal agents to local law enforcement,” Derhammer said. “Our teachers feel like giving back is a genuine thing they want to do.”
628 South Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach
1601 Pacific Coast Hwy., Hermosa Beach
Runner Up: Cobrinha Brazilian Jiu Jitsu South Bay
3525 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance
Atkins, South Beach, Paleo: diet fads and crazes have gone in and out over the years. But Lindberg Nutrition has been around long before them, and will likely outlast them, too. The store opened operating in Torrance in 1949 with one woman’s desire to preserve the wholesome nutrition of food on a farm. They opened the Manhattan Beach location 20 years ago, and the stores carry their own brand of protein powders and nutritional supplements.
3804 Sepulveda Blvd.
1121 Artesia Blvd.
Runner Up: Feed the Machine
1016 Aviation Blvd., Hermosa Beach
Rockit Body Pilates
Rockit Body Pilates, appropriately, took off quickly following its 2009 opening in Manhattan Beach, expanding within a year to a Redondo Beach location.
Today, the studio, opened by actress Judie Aronson, has cemented itself as one of the Beach Cities’ favorite places to get fit.
Rockit’s pilates classes are a hybrid workout of classic pilates, cardio exercises and weight-training, based on a program that hooked Aronson from day one. Rockit also offers barre classes, strap- and prop-heavy lower-intensity training, and — at its Redondo location — indoor cycling, promising “high-octane, shirt-drenching workouts” that they believe anyone who tries will fall in love with.
Rockit Bodies Pilates
1718 S. Catalina Ave.
1834 N. Sepulveda Blvd
Runner-Up: Coreology Fitness
2403 N Sepulveda Blvd.
Residents of the Beach Cities are a well-massaged folk, with a boggling array of massage shops and spas. Thus, when readers designate one massage as the best, it’s worth taking serious note, and Massage Envy has been declared Best of the Beach two out of the last three years. The underlying philosophy at Massage Envy is that pampering yourself, by means of massages and skin care, is not a luxury but a necessity of good health.
“A regular massage releases stress,” said Erica, one of Massage Envy’s local managers. “By releasing stress, it betters life in many areas like family, personal, and work.”
The different massage techniques and plans offered are custom tailored for the individual.
“We do what is best for the client and their overall health and wellness,” she said.
Massage Envy, which based in Scottsdale, Arizona and has locations in all three Beach Cities, is the largest employer of massage therapists and estheticians in the country, with more than 35,000 wellness professionals who serve 1.65 million people annually, delivering 100 million massages and facials each year.
1590 Rosecrans Ave.
1301 Manhattan Ave., Suite C
415 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Suite 101
Runner-Up: Healing Hands by Lani
934 Hermosa Ave. Suite 15