Noe Valley Voice March 2010

Owner Rachel Aram and studio manager Tara Lihn (right) invite you to take a spin on the cycling equipment at Cardio-Tone, a fitness and childcare center on 24th Street.
Photo by Pamela Gerard

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a recent arrival on 24th Street.

3813 24th Street at Church Street
(415) 655-3288

Cardio-Tone, the newest exercise kid on the block, flexes its muscles with a few twists. Located in the former Cary Lane clothing boutique on 24th near Church, the fitness studio teaches some classes for free, offers childcare for parents who work out or hang out, and hosts a monthly Girls Night Out.

Rachel Aram, a certified personal trainer, opened Cardio-Tone on Jan. 2, because "I wanted a business that made it easy for people. We have a flexible schedule and good childcare. My goal is to remove the reasons people can't exercise. Everyone wants to be healthy, but no one can drive across town or hire a sitter for a one-hour class."

A Dolores Street resident, Aram also wanted to get t o know her neighbors.

"I spent my mom life on 24th Street," says the mother of two under 2. "It felt like there were a lot of things to do in the neighborhood. But there wasn't a way to connect with other mothers and families."

Expectant moms, new moms, non-moms, dads, children... in fact, any kind of customer can select from 17 types of classes and workshops, meeting 90 different times a week. Exercisers work out on hardwood floors in a high-ceilinged space painted a soothing blue. The studio also has a "goals wall," where people can hang up their jeans or other clothes they hope to wear after weight loss. In the popular Spin class (group cycling on stationary bikes), some cyclers pedal in front of their own garments, to keep their eyes on the prize, Aram says.

Beyond the studio are a series of smaller rooms: a hand-me-down closet offering free children's clothes; dressing rooms; a baby room with rocking chair and crib, used for calming a child or breastfeeding; and a brightly colored playroom compl ete with skylight and rubber floor.

In the play space, the childcare service Wondersitter is available to provide on-site childcare from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Parents or caregivers pay $6 per hour (for up to two hours of childcare) if they stay at Cardio-Tone, or $10 if they leave the kids at the studio.

The day's workouts start at the crack of dawn. "Fitness has always been a hobby job," says Aram, who teaches most of the Spin and Pump (basic cardio and strength-training) classes, as well as a 6 a.m. Boot Camp. Aram says a former job as a CBS news journalist honed her ability "to function well at 5 a.m."

To balance out the aerobics, the studio offers a ballet-based class called Tone, yoga classes, massage services, and a class called Baby Weight, for postpartum exercise (with or without Baby).

For children, there are an array of classes whose names tell it all: Hip-Hop, Hula, Jump!, Making Music, Angelina Ballerina, Messy Art, and Free-Range Kids.

Princess 101, a favorite of the pre school set, is a "storybook dance class" based on fairy tales. The instructor, Cardio-Tone's studio manager, dancer, and former princess at Disneyland Tara Lihn, promises to show kids 3 and older "how to wake up properly if you fall into a deep sleep," as Sleeping Beauty did.

Prices are $10 for a single kids class and $15 for an adult one, but there are discounts for classes by the month or longer.

Every afternoon from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Cardio-Tone hosts a free playgroup for children 2 and under (with caregiver). Another freebie is the spin class offered on Saturday mornings (7:30 a.m.) for participants in the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride from San Francisco to L.A. in June.

Cardio-Tone also has fun without sweating. In March, the studio will host a free beer-tasting event showcasing local "hobby" brewers. (Check the website for details:

As for the Girls Night Out, it rolls around on the third Saturday of each month. The March 20 Girls Night Out ($30 per person) begins at 6 p.m. wit h an hourlong Latin dance lesson, followed by an evening out on the town.

Cardio-Tone is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

--Karen Topakian