The Santa Cruz movement brings an inclusive philosophy of fitness

Leela Kalow and Dean Yerushalmy of the Santa Cruz movement were excited to open their spacious and beautifully renovated Midtown studio in March 2020. After teaching at the tannery since 2018, they had rented an old furniture store and invested in turning it into a movement studio with mirrored walls, an attractive and bright aesthetic, hanging bars and rings and a marley type floor. Safe to say (no pun on Covid), the space didn’t open up as expected. Kalow and Yerushalmy switched to Zoom, followed by exterior options when permitted, and continued to pay full rent for unusable interior space.

Worldanz founder and local fitness star Gina Garcia made a resounding perspective on gyms and business owners like her during the pandemic: While retail businesses or restaurants may have received funds bailout, the fitness industry did not.

On March 9, 2021, Kalow and Yerushalmy were finally able to hold their inaugural class in space. Despite financial difficulties, they were able to keep the lease, and community members are welcomed into the couple’s well-ventilated and optional Ido Portal movement-style classes, which are held seven days a week.

With the Santa Cruz movement, Kalow and Yerushalmy aim to please everyone, regardless of their fitness level or abilities, age or any defining characteristic. Truly inclusive, it’s not just something for everyone, it’s everything for everyone. Kalow and Yerushalmy, who come from dance and yoga, personal training and surfing respectively, make a point of offering options in every class for clients aged 18 to 70, whether they are acts of a professional surfer seeking to increase his mobility. , a teacher rehabilitating old martial arts injuries, or someone who hasn’t exercised and wants to move in an accessible way.

Kalow and Yerushalmy emphasize a generalist approach. “It’s a very broad practice, not one thing in particular,” says Kalow. “We’re a very obsessive culture because we love to do what makes us look and feel good. While you look and feel great during SCM classes, it is a by-product rather than a focal point.

“We have a lot of people who got injured in dancing or other stuff, they come every day to train with us,” Yerushalmy says.

The only prerequisite: the curiosity of the movement.


Kalow, from Santa Cruz, met Yerushalmy, from Tel Aviv, while the two were living there. In 2014, the couple met the famous master of the Ido Portal movement (for those who don’t know, please stop reading, Google or Instagram immediately, and prepare to be surprised). Portal developed the methods taught. In 2016, Kalow and Yerushalmy joined Ido Portal Mentorship, a core of students who meet and study with Portal. They are the only members of this circle in the Santa Cruz region.

Yerushalmy and Kalow exchange as the head teacher in each class. The one who is not the head teacher serves as a substitute, going around the room to observe and give advice to each student, and to help with the other movements and demonstration sequences. Their presence and their passion are palpable. There is no such thing as a “type class” because each class is different.

A new program starts every 6 to 8 weeks. “The subjects and the systems are new, with new refinements,” says Yerushalmy. “If you finish juggling three balls for a minute, you hit a certain point in a specific task and we update it. We move on to something else which is also related to this topic, which is the manipulation of objects. Everything is connected. Your body will become more efficient and will become more efficient and solve new problems as you set new challenges for yourself. Look at it like a puzzle. If you know a part, you need to look at how to connect the next one, then start elsewhere. It’s a never-ending puzzle, how to relate these pieces to a whole practice.


On a recent Tuesday, I arrived for the 1.5 hour class at Santa Cruz Movement’s Midtown Studio, which I was happy to find is only a short distance from Crepe Place and Lillian’s. .

The course takes place barefoot, shoes and personal effects left in organized lockers at the front. Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance, and the clean, tidy space has a welcoming vibe, as do Kalow and Yerushalmy themselves as they take the time to greet students and orient new ones. The styling was attentive and remained so throughout.

Our warm-up, in a circle, consisted of opening up the thoracic spine – “the least mobile part,” as Yerushalmy explained. We then moved on to a continuation of the warm-up which is a game; Another fun aspect of SCM classes is the game. My partner held a long stick while I balanced on one leg. He moved the stick to different places, down and up, left and right, and gave commands – “right hand”, “left hand” or “foot” – while I had to touch the end of the stick with the part of the named body. The result was a very fun balancing act. We then switched the roles.

Then, the authorized body parts were enlarged: head, shoulder, elbow, upper / lower back, knee… you can’t help laughing, wavering and getting a hell of a stabilizer and basic training. The last part of the warm-up was the “spinal wave,” which can travel in two directions, from head to hips or from hips to head, and that’s pretty much what it sounds like, turning you into one. kind of human snake and warming all parts of the spine.

The main part of the course consisted of work on the ground: locomotion including “rotational sit-ups”, “helicopter” (on the back, the legs move above the head), “roll” (a kind of wheel where the feet do not leave the ground but go around the back of the body) and a resistance circuit including push-ups, pull-ups or barbell pull-ups, and getting on a box and lowering slowly.

My second class of the week was, as expected, very different – no floor work, instead we worked on delicate coordination exercises followed by various types of pear trees and hanging or pulled into an upside down position on rings or the bar. Each class includes strengthening elements like wrist flexion, spinal engagement and hip opening.

Towards the end of class, the work of the mind and the breath kicks in, whether it’s receiving a card with the numbers 1 to 25 scrambled out of order and having to touch the numbers in the correct order. (very confusing, in a fun way!) or learning to juggle, or to breathe and meditate, the mind feels as stretched as the body. This post-class pancake or pasta bowl is so well deserved.

The class was both vigorous and restorative. I didn’t feel any pain the next day, but my mood was definitely high and my range of movement possibilities was challenged. This is a great course for all skill levels as the instructors have a variety of modifications for injuries or immobilities. I would recommend it to anyone because if you are some kind of professional athlete it will help you increase your strength, mobility and flexibility, and if you have never exercised before it is a warm and welcoming environment, collaborative and non-competitive. Some of the movements were difficult and the teachers offered alternatives and modifications to some students in rehabilitation from injuries or more limited mobility.

EmaiI [email protected] or visit first class is free for Santa Cruz County Residents Registration and membership options are available at

About Leslie Schwartz

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