Readers Choice: Health & Fitness


Whom do our readers entrust to keep their pearly whites healthy and beautiful? These dentists are their favorites.

Dr. David Rothman, with 26 years in dentistry, serves kids at his pediatric practice in San Francisco. Along with treating his patients, Rothman is a big advocate for teaching children proper hygiene. “Prevention goes farther than treatment,” he says.

Dr. Elena Davidson-Arbit of San Leandro has three generations of dentistry roots on both sides of her family, and her clients also include multigenerational families. One writes: “My [children] are crazy about her and are not fearful of dental visits anymore.” Adds Davidson-Arbit, “We make sure that everyone in their own way is comfortable.”

San Mateo dentist Dr. Tanya Manyak hopes to create a “wow experience” for her patients. She believes dentistry is a profession that combines “science and art to produce incredible results for patients that affect their health and aesthetics.”

Dr. Martin Rayman of San Rafael, who has practiced pediatric dentistry for 31 years, says he “love(s) being able to help a child have a healthy mouth for their whole life.” He was previously a full-time professor at University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, and has lectured at the Israeli Society of Dentistry for Children and the Hadassah School of Dental Medicine.

Another favorite in Marin is San Rafael dentist Dr. Melissa Rinck, who has practiced for more than 16 years. She provides preventive and cosmetic care, restoring mouths that have been damaged by dental disease and injury, as well as other problems that require cosmetic dentistry. She also lectures on careers in dentistry and talks to senior groups on the benefits of oral health.

San Francisco

Dr. David L. Rothman

(415) 333-6811


East Bay

Dr. Elena Davidson-Arbit

Davidson Dental Group

San Leandro

(510) 352-9212 •


South Bay/Peninsula

Dr. Tanya Manyak

Manyak Dental Group

San Mateo

(650) 342-9941 •


North Bay

Dr. Martin Rayman

San Rafael

(415) 459-1444 •


Dr. Melissa Rinck

San Rafael

(415) 479-4977 •



From cosmetic concerns to life-threatening skin ailments, a dermatologist tackles a range of conditions: acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, spider veins, even tattoo removal. Our readers have chosen two top-flight Bay Area dermatologists.

East Bay

Dr. Julie Billings

Oakland • (510) 452-2811

Lafayette • (925) 283-4820


South Bay/Peninsula

Dr. Dale Pearlman

Menlo Park

(650) 325-0505 •


Health Club

Whether you are trying to trim down, bulk up or simply stay healthy, these fitness centers can help turn that goal into a reality.

The JCC of San Francisco, with some 9,000 members, is a great place to find a workout buddy. Its fitness center offers 168 classes, such as Jivamukti, a yoga practice focused on self-awareness and spiritual growth. Treadmills, pools, weights and a 10,000-square-foot basketball gym round out the facilities.

Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel and Spa offers complimentary child care to clients using its facilities. It offers three swimming pools, a variety of fitness equipment and a somatic art studio with Pilates equipment and exercise balls. The facility has been named one of the top 10 spas in the country by Vogue, Elle and Shape magazines.

The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto houses the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Sports and Wellness Complex, encouraging members to get moving and get healthy. Director Todd Milton says he works to “provide solutions for people so they can establish a daily exercise routine.” The complex contains outdoor and indoor pools and a double-court gym, and offers a full array of classes.

Bay Club in Marin, with 60,000 square feet of facilities, houses an indoor pool, squash courts, Pilates and yoga studios. The activities, some designed to bring families together, include mother and daughter dance classes, kickball tournaments and basketball camps. The facility takes pride in its highly qualified trainers, says general manager Larry Krieger.

Marin has another favorite, the Koret Center for Health & Fitness at the Osher Marin JCC. Group fitness classes include dance, yoga, cycling, swimming and water aerobics. For those who prefer one-on-one workouts, personal trainers are available.


San Francisco

JCC of San Francisco

(415) 292-1200


East Bay

Claremont Hotel and Spa


(510) 843-3000


South Bay/Peninsula

Oshman Family JCC

Palo Alto

(650) 223-8700


North Bay

Bay Club Marin

Corte Madera

(415) 945-3000


Osher Marin JCC

San Rafael

(415) 444-8000



Where to go in an emergency, when surgery is needed or for community health care classes? Take a hint from our readers, who have selected these award-winning hospitals.

California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, a Sutter Health affiliate with four campuses, is “one of the largest private, not-for-profit, academic medical centers in California,” says Kathie Graham, director of communications. More than 200 of its physicians are on the Best Doctors in America list.

UCSF Medical Center, another San Francisco winner, is not just a hospital but a research and educational institution, as well. This hospital is able to “quickly translate new discoveries into groundbreaking treatments,” says Karin Rush-Monroe, interim deputy director of UCSF affairs.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley is a full-service hospital that houses a regional stroke and rehabilitation center for patients who have experienced a stroke or injury, says director of public relations, Carolyn Kemp. The hospital also houses a birthing center and offers community health education and prevention services, support groups and complementary therapies.

El Camino Hospital, with campuses in Mountain View and Los Gatos, houses a women’s hospital and institutes for orthopedics, genomic medicine, and heart and vascular conditions. The goal is to “provide an environment that promotes innovation, collaboration and best practices,” says Chris Ernst, vice president of marketing and communications. The hospital even has robots that help deliver linens, supplies and meals.

Marin General Hospital, a 235-bed hospital in Greenbrae, is the only full-service acute-care facility in Marin County. Services include cardiovascular care, a cancer institute, a neurological surgery program and acute in-patient psychiatric care. It has received awards from the American Stroke Association and the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer.


San Francisco

California Pacific

Medical Center

(415) 600-6000 •

UCSF Medical Center

(415) 353-1664 •


East Bay

Alta Bates Summit

Medical Center


(510) 204-4444 •


South Bay/Peninsula

El Camino Hospital

Mountain View

(650) 940-7000

Los Gatos

(408) 378-6131


North Bay

Marin General Hospital


(415) 925-7000


Plastic Surgeon

If you are considering cosmetic or reconstructive surgery — whether to correct a flaw or simply to look your best — our readers say these surgeons are a cut above the rest.

Dr. Gabriel Kind of San Francisco  says surgery “is a way to help people in a very immediate and powerful way. When people choose to allow me to perform surgery on them, it is a privilege; I don’t take that lightly.” He also does hand surgery, joint replacement and reconstructive microsurgery.

Danville’s Dr. Elliott Lavey has spent time at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem and still visits with his Israeli colleagues to “exchange suggestions on improving techniques.” He emphasizes the importance of helping the patient to understand “the benefits, complications and limitations of the procedures,” which include mommy makeovers, body contouring and skin cancer treatment.

Dr. Jane Weston of Atherton began her career in pediatric craniofacial plastic surgery. Now, she mainly performs cosmetic surgeries, but also does breast and facial reconstruction following the removal of skin cancers. Weston is careful to “make sure that the surgery will be beneficial for the patient.”


San Francisco

Dr. Gabriel Kind

(415) 565-6884 •


East Bay

Dr. Elliott Lavey

Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery


(925) 820-3633


South Bay/Peninsula

Dr. Jane Weston

Atherton Plastic Surgery


(650) 363-0300



A trip to the spa means a chance to indulge and be pampered, replacing stress and tension with complete relaxation. These are readers’ top picks.

The Spa in the JCC of San Francisco offers a variety of massage practices, including aromatherapy, prenatal massage, craniosacral bodywork and reiki energy healing. Organic, chemical-free skin care is also on the menu. “We have destination service without the destination price,” says director of fitness programs and service Jennifer Morrice.

Artbeat Salon & Gallery in Berkeley is an Aveda concept salon, providing hairstyling as well as spa services. It offers customizable facials and “relaxing waxing,” using facial acupressure and aromatherapy, says skin therapist and spa director Starr Violet. “I love seeing my clients leave feeling balanced, grounded and refreshed.”

LaBelle, with two salons in Palo Alto and one in San Francisco, is best known for its skin care and facials that are “not just cookie-cutter facials,” says Tiffany Schneider, director of corporate communications. One of the most decadent treatments may be the three-hour, Five-Carat Glow Facial. LaBelle offers a selection of massages and body treatments along with hair and nail services.

Mill Valley’s Evo Spa offers a treatment that originates from Indian royalty, the Kaya Kalpa. This ancient ritual, which means “body’s transformation,” includes a healing paste, shirodhara oil and a Tibetan foot massage. The Italian Hydro-Heaven bed, a zero-gravity luxury, can be added to any facial or body treatment.


San Francisco

Spa at JCC

of San Francisco

(415) 292-1200 •


East Bay

Artbeat Salon & Gallery Berkeley

(510) 527-3100 •


South Bay/Peninsula

LaBelle Day Spa

Palo Alto (Town and Country) • (650) 327-6964

Stanford Shopping Center • (650) 326-8522


North Bay

Evo Spa

Mill Valley

(415) 383-3223 •


Vision Care

With a multitude of breathtaking sights in the Bay Area, good vision is vital. These Readers’ Choice eye specialists get top marks for opening up their clients’ worlds.

Dr. Kyna Wong, a San Francisco optometrist, takes special care when explaining medical lingo to her patients. “Nothing is scarier than when someone just throws terms at you,” she says. She says a huge perk of the job — which includes treating eye infections, customizing contact lenses and co-managing laser-vision correction — is watching people’s reactions to seeing the world through different lenses.

Dr. Steven Pascal, an ophthalmologist and Lasik surgeon in the East Bay, has taught eye surgery for almost 20 years, serving as a clinical instructor at California Pacific Medical Center and as a medical consultant for U.C. Berkeley’s Tang Health Center. “The eye is the only place where you can look inside the body at the nerve tissue and veins with a microscope and get information on the whole body,” says Pascal, who also volunteers as a teacher and eye surgeon on excursions to Guatemala.

Dr. Robert Levine, a Marin native, has seen some of his patients since he launched his optometric practice in 1979. His San Rafael office specializes in family eye care. Levin considers his work to be a team effort from all of his staff and enjoys helping patients to “take care of their eyes.”


San Francisco

Dr. Kyna Wong

Taraval Eye Care

(415) 664-2022


East Bay

Dr. Steven Pascal

East Bay Lasik Center


(510) 893-4318


North Bay

Dr. Robert Levine

Marin Optometric Group

San Rafael

(415) 453-3812 •