Raising the Barre

By Megan Looney
Photos by Paul Body

When a trainer at North County’s new dance-inspired fitness boutique challenged me to “discover why Swan Lake is harder on the arms than the legs,” I jumped at the chance.

The Movement Lab offers a slew of sexy, sweat sessions including group burlesque, twerk and Buti yoga. When I walk into the small studio, the head instructor and owner, Susan White, who has more than 25 years of dance and performance experience, is mic’d, energetic and ready to go. As she starts playing pounding party music, the class of about 20 women, dressed in spandex and sports bras, begin stretching, and I follow suit.

The Double Bill Extension Method class combines cardio, beginner ballet and light weight-training. As a woman who’s more accustomed to pumping iron than pirouetting, I thought the class would be a stretch for me, but I found it to be fun and surprisingly approachable.

“I just wanted to encourage people to move, and to move within their own limitations without frustration,” says White after the class is finished. "[I wanted] to create a culture of like-minded people moving to the beat of their own drum.”

Despite occasionally feeling like I had two left feet, I had such a blast with ballet that I figured I would try a second Movement Lab core class, Buti Yoga.

"[Buti] is a fusion of yoga, tribal dance and weaving in elements of plyometrics,” says instructor Mary Catherine Shurett. “It’s super feminine and sensual and just a celebration of feminine movement.”

Moving to high-energy, bass-filled beats, Shurett starts the class by encouraging everyone to set an “intention,” hers being forgiveness.

Before she discovered Buti, Shurett tells me she was a personal trainer who, by performing repetitive “masculine movements,” had forged an unhealthy body image for herself. “I was 25, no libido, no sex drive and in a sexless marriage - and then I found Buti, and it began to open and awaken all of those parts of myself that I thought were literally gone,” she says. “I had so much shame around my body and I find that so many women are experiencing the same thing without having the language to understand it or the tools to know how to fix it or solve the problem, and they’re walking around thinking they’re broken. And they’re not.”

Shurett says her class is about working with the female body and encouraging women to embrace their curves while experiencing a deeper level of self-love.

As I join in on the gyrating, floor pounding, hip rolling and shimmy shaking, I can’t help but smile. Even the one male in the room seems to be embracing his inner goddess. “If the men are there to really receive their feminine awakening, because we all hold masculine and feminine energies, if they’re really there to hold that kind of sacred space, then great,” Shurett says.

There is no judgment at this studio, only smiling, sweaty bodies that linger outside long after classes are finished to chat with fellow fitness enthusiasts and instructors.

One regular, Alexandra Zammit , recently signed up for the three-month Bridal Bootcamp package to get in shape for her upcoming nuptials.

“I am so in love with the studio, the people and the Extension Method that I am now planning on being a member of the studio for life,” Zammit says.

Sign up for a hip-hop “Twerkshop,” work your booty and learn to love your body. There are 15 classes in all, and the two I took were a blast, not to mention great workouts.

The Movement Lab
243 N HWY 101, Ste. 3, Solana Beach,

Sip and Spin
A new way to break a sweat at FLUXX

A DJ isn’t going to be the only one spinning at FLUXX Nightclub in the Gaslamp on Saturday, May 16. Break a sweat on the dance floor during the daylight hours as SparkCycle takes over the club for a fundraiser benefitting the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound, which helps American military personnel, veterans and first responders with physical challenges.

“We’re constantly elevating and reinventing the nightlife scene in San Diego,” says FLUXX general manager James Thorp. “A spin class on the FLUXX dance floor, the state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, and a DJ spinning is a very cool way for us to offer something different that blends the city’s active lifestyle with our nightclub experience. We’re glad we can also support such a great cause.”

A ticket to FLUXX Spin includes a 45-minute SparkCycle spin class set to strobe lights and heartpumping beats, shoes for the ride and a gush-worthy Lululemon swag bag.

Cycle times are 1:00 and 1:55 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to hang out pre and/or post-spin to enjoy the cold-pressed juice bar, healthy treats and specialty cocktails by Belvedere vodka. Admission includes one drink ticket, so cheers to your health. Sign up at

500 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp