Each and every one of us looks for something different from their travels. However, we can often get so caught up in our adventures that we forget to take time care of ourselves. I don’t think I ever made it a priority to work out, eat well, or take time for myself to decompress while traveling before this year. To help make sure your own travels are as beneficial as they can be–for your body, mind, and soul–make sure you take part in local activities that promote wellness.
In Huntington Beach, CA, wellness is more than just an ideal, it’s a lifestyle–so its easy to find unique and rejuvenating food and activities. Here are my top recommendations for staying healthy and centered in this youthful coastal town:
1. Surfs up while staying dry. There’s no better place in the world to get your surf legs than Surf City, USA. But if you aren’t ready to brave the cold waters or take on the breaking waves, than shake things up on shore with a SURFSET® Fitness class at G60Fit. The surf-inspired workout simulates the exercise a surfer would get while catching waves through the use of a 7-foot plastic board attached to an instability system that’s resembles balance balls.
“It’s a fun way for people who like the idea of surfing, but might not be ready for the real thing, to challenge themselves,” says Aaron Gendle, surfer and co-owner of G60fit.
Classes are intimate, with anywhere from 2 to 10 participants, and although they only last about 35 minutes long, they really engage and challenge your core and smaller stabilizer muscles.
My personal advice: Forget the fact that you are trying to balance on a board, and you’ll naturally stabilize. It’s like being a cocktail waitress with a full tray of martinis: just keep your focus forward, and you won’t spill. Also, don’t forget to just let go and have fun. It’s really quite a unique, blast of a workout.
2. Fuel up with a fruitful breakfast. Asserting itself as the “the original açaí cafe” and “the best açai bowls on the west coast,” Banzai Bowls is one establishment that can back up its claims. In case you’re unfamiliar with the acai bowl craze that’s swept Cali (and most of the US), an acai bowl is a tasty, beautiful breakfast (or snack) that’s somewhere between a parfait and a smoothie. It consists of a blended base of frozen acai fruit; soy, almond, or coconut milk; and other various fruits. The blended base is then usually topped off with granola, coconut, fresh fruit, and honey. It may sound like a simple food, but making an acai bowl well is considered to be an art by true acai enthusiasts. So when you head to Banzai, don’t be in a rush. Make your bowl selection–if your unsure of which one to choose, the staff will help you pick based on your tastes (although you can never go wrong with the customer favorite, the Maui Bowl)–and then sit back and relax. Banzai is just two blocks from the Pier so it’s a perfect place to people watch and see a variety of Cali natives come through or walk by–from juice cleansing health nuts to the quintessential surfer girl. Once your bowl is ready, keep your relaxed Cali pace and enjoy each and every bite. You’ll love the crunchiness of the organic granola and coconut combined with the smooth, cool, and refreshing taste of the blended acai base. Deliciousness!
3. Unwind like a local. When looking to relax and de-stress, many tourists and travelers flock to the nearest luxury resort and spa. And while that’s all good and fine if you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, I enjoy finding local day spas–they’re not only more affordable, but they can often allow you to have a more authentic local experience. In Huntington Beach, there’s no better place to decompress than the award-winning Cloud Mover Day Spa. Declaring itself as the spa “Where the locals go,” Cloud Mover offers a variety of unique and exclusive services, including the two I indulged in: the HB Hot Stone massage and the Oxygen Facial.
From beginning to end, the HB Hot Stone transports you to a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. The warm river stones are used all across your body to deeply penetrate into your muscles and soul–giving you an overall sense of warmth and allowing your body to receive greater massage benefits. A stone placed on the center of your abdomen, keeps you centered and reminds you ever so gently of the strength you possess at your core. By combing this stone work with Hawaiian Lomi Lomi techniques, the HB Hot Stone provides relief, release, and relaxation on a level that I had never experienced before (and I use to get massages once to twice a month, every month for about two years).
Cloud Mover perfectly sums up their Oxygen Facial with the phrasing, “Breathe in through your skin.” Each facial is customized to meet the recipient’s needs and starts similar to most other facials, but really stands out and provides its greatest benefits through the use of an oxygen mask. Your face receives a light layer of vitamins and minerals and then an oxygen mask is comfortably placed around your head so flowing oxygen can help the mineral and vitamin mixture seep into your skin. The oxygen mask–combined with the simultaneously happening head massage–also promotes deep breathing and relaxation. For me, this was a perfect time to meditate in order to fully welcome and receive the benefits of the treatment.
A quick tip: If its available during your visit, add on a pumpkin hand treatment to your facial. By the end of the treatment, my hands felt extra smooth and soft and never smelt so good. I wanted to eat them!
4. Enjoy healthy California fare. Many people view SoCal as a chill, surfer community that’s health and beauty conscious. And as a vegetarian SoCal expat, I’ve got to say, that’s not too far off. And Jan’s Health Bar is the epitome of this persona. Originally a sandwich shack located in the back of surf shop, the establishment got it’s current name when Jan Gaffney, one of California’s first female surfers and lifelong health food enthusiasts, took over. Although no longer owned and operated by Jan, the sandwich shop still maintains Jan’s vision for scrumptious, satisfying health food. The tuna avocado sandwich filled with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, soy bacon bits, and sprouts has been a customer favorite since the shop’s beginning days back in the 1960s. Pair this with the hearty broccoli and cheese soup by ordering the Surf Shop Special and you’ve got a meal that your tastebuds won’t soon forget. The broccoli soup has a taste and smell reminiscent of Thanksgiving, and since I’m not a culinary trained foodie, I can’t place my finger on what makes it so good, but the tuna avocado sandwich has become one of my favorite Cali lunches.
5. Close the day with a SoCal sunset. For me, a true day of wellness includes time to reflect on and appreciate my day and life without interruption. Simply stroll HB’s nine miles of beach and find a place you can sit and relax. I first take in all that’s around me–the surfers challenging the waves, amateur and pro volleyballer players enjoying a game, and the beauty of the grainy yellow sand contrasted by the deep yet bright blue water. As the sun goes down, I take in the majestic yellows, oranges, and reds that fill the sky. Just after the sun disappears below the horizon, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and give thanks for all that I’ve had the opportunity to experience.