This popular Santa Monica studio’s not-very-auspicious entrance is up a flight of stairs, off a back parking lot. Inside, however, Yoga Hop feels like the place to be. Charismatic founder-instructor Matthew Reyes laps the 52 yoga mats spread over two jam-packed rooms, calling out moves on a headset mic that booms into each room.
He’s cueing over a remix of 80s pop musician Howard Jones I’ve never heard before (and love), which segues into Brittany and Evanescence. Students are rocking out and don’t seem to mind that our mats are two inches apart or that there’s no guru stationed at the top of the classroom, just yoga DJ-ringleader Reyes circling the two rooms, creating a sweaty, no-nonsense power vinyasa that uses popular music to drive you.
“As a former trainer, I knew clients loved the music and sweat of indoor cycling. They wanted strength training and athleticism in their fitness classes, and in yoga they wanted to chill out,” says Reyes. “Yoga Hop brings it all together.” And it appeals to all types. Next to me in the 9:15 a.m. class is a red-headed actress I’ve seen a thousand times on TV. On my left is a European woman who’s probably 10 years my senior but could do the splits.
“We spend the first three-quarters talking as a fitness coach, then the last quarter like a massage therapist,” says Reyes, of the pacing and purpose. “We’re very conscious about what we do in here.”
That includes no Sanskrit, no Buddha statues, no om-ing. There’s very little verbal breakdown of poses, and the flow moves fast. If you don’t know how to get yourself into Triangle or Warrior 3, you look around you. “When my partners and I created Yoga Hop in 2006, it was so we could grow this concept anywhere and people would ‘get’ us. Our studio and style is very fun and approachable.”
He’s right: Reyes’s students know his choreography—and know when they can go one better, like by turning a knee-to-elbow plank into a Flying Pigeon, or Dolphin into a Yoga Journal-cover worthy inversion. This deviation from what everyone is supposed to be doing seems to be acceptable, and since it’s not a crazy-hard flow for someone who regularly practices vinyasa, it allows students to make it more even challenging. (They also take his advanced Summit classes.) All the better to really soak your mat. —Melisse Gelula
Who’s it for: Yogis who don’t do it for the spirituality; fitness types who want to work on their strength, not their Sanskrit; those who feed off contemporary pop music during a workout; gym-goers who like an efficient workout
Yoga Hop, $18, 1612 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, Los Angeles, 310-829-5000, www.yogahop.com