Body Moving, the Ebadi Way

Long before the commercial area now known as the Funk Zone became an urbanesque beacon for Santa Barbara upscale restaurants, condominiums, clothing manufacturers, artists and home furnishing stores, it was just plain funky. Twenty years ago, Yanonali Street was a good cut-through street to catch the Garden Street on-ramp or a short-cut to Milpas.

In 1985 came the pioneers. Cindy and John Ebadi took a chance and opened a dance and fitness center called Studio E. It was there they built a burgeoning fan base of local devotees who came for sexy, fun, high-energy, booty-shaking and heart-thumping dance fitness and yoga classes. (They also offer classes in hip hop, cardio funk, ballet, spinning, aerobics, Brazilian drumming and capoeria yin energy.)

The Ebadis took risk not only on the location, but also on the type of business. At the time, the region was saturated with dance studios and over the years larger corporate gyms have forced many out. Studio E survived. The Ebadis are celebrating their 21st year in business.

Cindy and Johnny have been married since 1986. They have two kids: Jesse, 19, and Jolie, 7. An instructor and personal trainer since 1983, Cindy has built almost a cult-like following. Adherents come from far and they come often for her two-and-a-half-hour morning classes that combine choreography and fitness in a dance studio, which features a large mirrored room and spring floor. Legendary for teaching the wildest and most challenging dance fitness moves, the classes emphasize on spontaneity and personal style in a follow-the-leader format. When I went to my first class I was told, ”forget your inhibitions, and just bring your natural rhythm, sense of humor, towel and water, because you are going to need them!”

New on the radar for the Ebadis is the recent opening of a healing arts center adjacent to the dance studio. John bought the building last year and developed a program of herbal medicine, Shiatsu and Thai massage, acupuncture and a wide variety of detoxification therapies. There’s an on-staff esthetician offering complete skin rejuvenation treatments and a colonic therapist.

“At the fitness center, Cindy breaks them and over here I fix them,” quips John. “It’s a revolving door.”

This spiritual and wellness retreat resembles a Balinese and Malaysian temple with fabrications, furnishings and wall stenciling all conceived and installed by Nora Hurley and her staff at Coast Village Road boutique La Vie Bohème.

The seven spacious treatment rooms are warmly furnished and there are post-treatment lounging areas, which were done in accordance to Feng Shui principles.

“The environment was created to be relaxing and provide soothing energy, which has healing potential,” John says.

In addition to being an accomplished instructor in hip hop, spinning and hot yoga, John is also a primary care provider and licensed acupuncturist. He holds a master’s degree in oriental medicine and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and political science. He has successfully treated a wide variety of conditions, from skeletal muscular disorders to infertility, depression and skin disorders.

Studio E Dance Fitness and Healing Arts (560-3704) is located at 219 Gray Avenue. Call for a dance class schedule. Walk-ins are welcome. Healing center hours are by appointment only, Monday through Saturday.