May Newsletter 2020



General Manager Nick Beach and his family

Dear Hills Members,

I feel like we're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Although it will be a long while before we get there, I have faith that we will. We continue to monitor new information and developments from the County and the State of California. As certain businesses reopen with restrictions, we're doing all we can to learn what is working well and what is not so that we are prepared as possible when we do get clearance to reopen the club.

I want to introduce you to what we will be referring to as D&S here at the club. D&S stands for Disinfecting and Sanitizing, and will be a main focus before, during, and after reopening here at The Hills. The Hills and California Athletic Clubs are very proud to have such a solid working relationship with Greg Brown from Hillyard Inc. Hillyard is our vendor for most of our cleaning products and they've been instrumental in our training and preparation for everything related to Covid-19 and beyond. We have ordered some of the same cleaning products we've always been using, but there will be some new ones as well that will help with the D&S around the club.

Another tremendous thank you to all of the Hills instructors who have hosted a live virtual class within the past month! I cannot tell you how many positive responses I've received from members who are utilizing them, some multiple times a day. Thank you to Group Exercise Director Angelique Pine for spearheading that project and coordinating the schedule each week. If you missed a live class we do have a Youtube channel to now go to to find some of the recorded classes from the past few weeks:
More classes will be added as soon as possible.

As for me, the photo top left was taken on my daughters 2nd birthday during April. I cannot believe she is already two and I know I'm going to blink and she'll be 16. The family and I are all doing well, we're all safe and healthy and that's all you can really hope for these days. A highlight of mine from the past few days is that my son learned how to ride a bike!
I want to wish all the moms out there a very Happy Mother's Day!!! You are all superheroes in my eyes.

Stay safe, happy, healthy and keep the faith! Everything will be okay. This too shall pass.



What's "Cooking" with Hills Cafe Chef Muey


Hills Chef Muey Saechao and her family

Hello Hills members,

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Muey Saechao, Hills chef. I've been with the club for a few years now and I really enjoy my job. I love the environment and I also love to cook. I really miss seeing you all, and I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and healthy.

My family and I are doing great. I am keeping myself busy with cleaning, cooking and laundry. I am also spending my days making sure my kids are completing all of their school assignments, and a big part of that is communicating with their teachers. This is basically my everyday routine since the shelter in place started.

I can't wait for the club to reopen so that I can get back to making my egg rolls and pho, as well as all of the other cafe items for you. Until then, I want to continue to share some of my favorite family recipes. Below you will find one of my family's favorite desserts: Nam Won (Tapioca Coconut Dessert).

Stay happy, stay safe, stay healthy. We all will get through this difficult time. Hope to see everyone soon!

- Muey, Hills Chef

Muey's Nam Wan


(Tapioca Coconut Dessert)

1 Can (20oz) - Coconut Milk
1 Can (20oz) - Longans
1 Can (20oz) - Jackfruit
1 Can (20oz) - Lychee
1 Can (20oz) - Coconut Jelly
1 Can (20oz) - Green Jelly
1 Bag (14oz) - Tapioca Pearl
1 Bag (7oz) - Tapioca Shredded
4oz - Brown Candy Sugar


  • Boil 2 cups water with brown sugar candy
  • Simmer on low heat until brown sugar candy dissolves
  • Add 1 can of coconut milk (19oz)
  • Stir & simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat
  • Store the hot coconut milk in the refrigerator until cool
  • Boil 7 cups of water with tapioca pearl for 20 minutes (stir constantly)
  • Drain and rinse with cold water (store in a bowl to the side)
  • Boil 4 cups of water with shredded tapioca for 30 minutes (stir constantly)
  • Drain and rinse with cold water (store it with the tapioca pearl)
  • Mix together the cans of longan, jackfruit, lychee, coconut jelly, green jelly, tapioca pearl, shredded tapioca and refrigerated coconut milk
  • Stir all ingredients well and it's ready to serve


What's Happening on the Front Lines with Anthony Lum


Camp Director & Assistant Front Desk Manager Anthony Lum and his fiancee Sharon

Hello Hills Members!

As you already know, I am currently on national guard duties in Los Angeles, and it is highly likely that I will continue to stay down here until the shelter in place is lifted.

My job has not changed as I continue to do humanitarian work, crowd control, and help local law enforcement with various assignments. Lately, our group has been working nonstop trying to get the upper hand on the ongoing problem with physical distancing along the beaches.

Mentally and physically, I am doing as well as I can, but working long hours 7 days a week is taking a toll on my body. I could definitely use a nice vacation, a few days off, a soak in a hot tub, and quality time with my fiancé Sharon.

Speaking of Sharon, she has also been working nonstop at Kaiser Permanente overseeing multiple nursing units during the pandemic. Overall, she is doing well but working long hours. The two of us are getting through this pandemic together with daily communication, either on the phone or through Zoom meetings. I truly miss seeing her and being able to hold her, but we both have demanding duties as front line workers. Stay safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing all of you when this shelter in place is over.


Fitness Focus with Hills Personal Trainer Frank Clayton


"Tools to Succeed While S.I.P."

These 3 practical tools and home workout will keep you active and more resilient in this uncertain time. This is a time to strengthen our immune systems and support our mental health.

  1. Be Mindful.
    Take time for yourself when you can. Practice self care and use emotional intelligence when managing relationships in close proximity during stressful times.
  2. Hydrate.
    Hydration is playing offense against illness. Staying hydrated is critical to optimal health and body functions.
  3. Stay Active.
    Our team is dedicated to finding ways to help you stay fit and active. 30-60 minutes of light movement a day can make a huge difference. Online workouts, walks around the home, or utilizing home bikes or treadmills are all great ways to get moving.

Frank's Home Workout

20 many rounds as possible

10 push-ups
20 tricep dips
20 bicycle crunch (each side)
15 forward lunges
15 seconds high knees
15 prisoner squats
30 seated twists


Pilates, Trivia, Music...and More!


Pilates Director Therese and her bike (wear a mask, folks!) ||| Therese and Moose in her recording studio


Therese's Husband Chuck doing Zoom trivia ||| Therese teaching Pilates (BYOR) with OJ the Cat

A note from the Hills Pilates Studio!

Dear Hills Members and Pilates Students,

I hope that you and yours are well during week 8 of our Shelter in Place, and that you have had a chance to participate in some of our online classes - or have found other ways to nurture your body and spirit during this time.

I would like to give a special shoutout to those among us in the Hills community who are first responders, nurses, doctors, teachers, public defenders, and to so many others who are working diligently during this time - some of who are risking their lives to save others. I hope that you all find a moment to breathe deeply, or as Joseph Pilates put it, to "take an internal shower"!

This month, I would like to share a little bit about what my life looks like without the beautiful Hills Pilates studio and the many wonderful students I was used to seeing several times a week.
Us humans are adaptable creatures, and myself, my fellow instructors and many of you have found great ways to stay connected through Zoom cameras and in virtual classes (and probably in some virtual happy hours too). And speaking of creatures, it seems like every time I turn on the camera to record a class, one of our pets wants to crash the party and get in the spotlight, (featured here is OJ the Cat).

During these past 7 weeks I have really enjoyed teaching Pilates and movement from home and in doing so, inadvertently given many Hills members a full house tour, as I have Zoomed from my tiny office, my living room, and even my backyard.

Add to this my very creative husband Chuck, who is busy offering up weekly online trivia shows with more than 100 participants, and so by now, half of Oakland has been in our dining room as well! Let me tell you, we love and are so thrilled to be able to connect to other people in this way! I will admit that I miss the Hills pool dearly (and my fellow swimmers), however, what I miss most is you.

Being a fitness nut, I am doing my best to keep up my triathlon training with running, biking (always wearing a mask!), and even "dryland swimming", a conditioning workout that I shared with some of you in our weekly classes.

The sheltering in place has had a silver lining for me in that it has opened space in my schedule for my other passion besides fitness - music. I am currently finishing up writing and recording the score to a very gripping documentary film, "Life After Death" made by filmmaker and Hills member Daniel Julien. I love writing for film; as a creator you are given inspiration and subject matter to tell a story through music. I hope that you all will get a chance to see the movie once we are allowed to gather together again.

Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to connect to our online fitness classes. Aside from getting a little boost to work out and break a sweat, you get a chance to see and say hello to your fellow students and neighbors. I feel that the time before and after the workout is just as important as the leg stretches and shoulder bridges that we do.

Much Love and Good Health,
- Therese Brewitz, Pilates Director


Group Exercise Offers Alternative Workouts


Tori and her kids 

Getting a daily diet of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can boost your immune system and help keep viruses at bay. Just be sure you do it safely. With the weather starting to warm up, you may consider a bike ride. According to Dr. David Nieman of Appalachian State University, bike riding is safe as long as you ride alone (or with members of your household). The best plan for riding right now is to go out and ride solo and enjoy the outdoors, in non crowded areas. And, try timing your rides for when you know your route will be less crowded. I asked Tori Sovocool, our Monday morning spin instructor and avid rider, for some advice about local rides.

Biking is Essential

Yes, we miss our indoor cycling friends and riding high cadence sprints and jumps. However, we are fortunate to live in one of the best outdoor riding areas (especially if you love "the hills"). Cyclists are enjoying cleaner air, fewer cars, cool temps and beautiful green hills with California natural wildflowers. Bike shops are open, but they are busy, so I recommend you check out YouTube videos on how to change a flat tire and be sure to carry a spare out there. Here are a few of my favorite rides:

Easy Flat Riding (5-10 miles)

Driving a few miles in your car is allowed, so pack your bike in the back of your car and check out the flat paved Lamorinda Trail. A good place to start is at the Moraga Commons park, facilities are closed, but parking is available. Ride north towards Lafayette and there is good signage to keep you on the trail. Other options: ride around Lake Merritt, Bay Trail in Emeryville, Bay Bridge, Richmond Bridge.

Hill Loop from Oakland (10-15 miles)

Starting in Montclair, ride parallel to Highway 13 on Monterey Blvd. make a left turn on Joaquin Miller Road and get out of the saddle for a short steep climb to Butters; make a right turn and you will see a Fire Station on the right. This is always reassuring to me that if I can't make it up the hill, I know that a first responder is close by. :-) Butters Canyon is a winding residential street with a decent climb and almost no car traffic, so it's a good place to practice hills. At the end of the canyon, make a sharp left turn on Robinson Road and ride up to Skyline Blvd. From there you have many choices: you can ride back down Joaquin Miller, just keep your speed in check, or ride up Skyline past Chabot Observatory and down Shepherd Canyon, and wave to The Hills on your way by. Take it easy on the steep part of Shepherd Canyon and then it flattens out for a fun descent back to Montclair.

Scenic Three Bears Loop in Orinda (25 miles)

Park in the empty BART parking lot and ride North on Camino Pablo. There is a green bike path through Orinda and then a nice bike shoulder parallel to San Pablo Reservoir. Put your bike in a big gear to warm up and enjoy the flat road for about 7 miles before you start to climb. In El Sobrante, turn right on Castro Ranch Road where the suburbs start to fade into rural landscape. Shortly you reach Alhambra Valley Road, make another right turn; we are riding the route clockwise. This is a great stretch of road to practice your time trials and really get your RPMs and speed up! Next right turn is onto Bear Creek Road. This is where the ride gets its name as you ride up three hills and towards Briones Reservoir. Be sure to enjoy the scenery and again watch your speed on the descent. You will come back out on Camino Pablo, make a left turn at the stop light and head back to Orinda BART.

These are just a few of my favorite routes. You can follow me on Strava, Tori Sovocool, for more rides. I'd love to give you Kudos for your efforts! Have fun, ride safe, stay healthy!

- Tori Sovocool, Hills Group Ex (Spin) Instructor


A "Peek" into Peak Fit Workouts from Home


Our lonely/empty Peakfit Studio

I truly miss our Peak Fit classes and cannot wait for us to get together again for some super fun new workouts:) I've been spending a lot of time hiking with my dogs... and practicing lots of new workouts to share with you all when we can get back together!

Here's a quick body weight workout for everyone:

Set a timer or a watch a clock... these are all one-minute drills... rest for 30 seconds between each exercise. Repeat for 3-4 rounds.

Do a quick warm up
Then do the following for one minute, test for 15-30 seconds before moving to the next exercise:

Squats or squat jumps or 10 of each
Push up to a side plank
Reverse lunge with a front kick- 39 seconds per leg.
Tricep dips or overhead extensions
Bicycle crunches
Plank- add shoulder taps or alternating Toe Taps to each side.

Stay healthy and strong...and please reach out if you have any questions or if you would like to be added to my weekly email list!

- Jennie Votel, Peak Fit Director
[email protected]


Celebrate May Employee Birthdays


Please join us in wishing each of them a happy birthday and thanking them for all of their hard work!

Mia Elliott, 05/03
Alex Holtzman, 05/06
Ann Livingston, 05/07
Robin Rosario, 05/14
Michael Leslie, 05/20
Birgitte Rohrbach, 05/27