SF's Best Personal Training Gym is as Stylish as the Trainers are Tough

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Meet the coolest SF gym that in-the-know fitness enthusiasts are flocking to.

I always thought SF's cutting edge fitness epicenter was Cow Hollow's Union Street (hello SoulCycle/Lorna Jane/Equinox!), but after my first session with fitness rising star Liz Letchford, I think it may very well be on a funky SoMa/Mission corridor between the 9th Street Trader Joe's and Muji. DIAKADI is a stunning, bi-level gym, with retro-cool styling, high ceilings and best-in-class equipment. Its trainers and on-staff physical therapists have advanced degrees and years of experience creating an intellectual, supportive and extremely customized experience. Liz, my new DIAKADI trainer, has a masters in health and movement science and is currently writing her PhD dissertation in exercise physiology and injury prevention. NBD.

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My DIAKADI welcome with Liz was immersive. After a full hour postural assessment and physical history review, she shared some mind-blowingly essential advice: she literally taught me how to stand correctly. Changing the basics of my stance, she instructed, by properly standing on my feel with aligned hips and chin, would save my knees and hips from extra stress in years to come, help me lift heavier and save some of the pressure I feel on my lower back when I run. Our assessment concluded with mobility homework to help sort out my overly active upper traps and limited range of motion from an old rotator cuff injury.

From there, we worked out a system for sessions: twice weekly one-on-one training for 30 days, with daily DIY mobility work and twice weekly cardio. On a weekly basis, I was recommended to check out her new mobility class called The Release at The Assembly, to further work on loosening up my hard as a rock lats and hips. Over the next four weeks together, we did plenty of foundational exercises including squats, deadlifts and push and pull movements, focusing on upper body one day and lower the next. A couple of times we mixed it up with DIAKADI's renovated first floor space that includes American Ninja Warrior-esque stations like a jungle gym, dog sled and cargo net. We spent most of our time there on tire flips (ouch). After each session I was sore, but never in the wrong places, and I always felt safe under Liz's watchful eye.

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As a bonus, Liz makes referrals to other experts where helpful. She noticed that my hip imbalance was likely the result of one leg being shorter than the other, and recommended a podiatrist for a corrective orthotic. For more challenging injuries, she often refers to and collaborates with DIAKADI's onsite physical therapist and sports medicine specialist Dr. Heather McGill.

At the end of eight or ten sessions, I felt stronger, like I stood up taller and more knowledgeable about how to activate the right muscles to continue minimizing old injuries and strengthening to prevent future ones. After graduating her foundations program, she gave me recommendations for a new eight weeks program to continue increasing strength and stability.

// DIAKADI rates start at $145 per hour for sessions with Liz Letchford, 290 Division St. (Mission), diakadibody.com