Danielle Spangler & Tara Punzone

An almost 30-year veteran of the fitness industry, Danielle Spangler always had a passion to teach healthy lifestyle habits to her clients—including nutrition. In fact, she and her husband, Jay Spangler, had decided years before to switch to plant-based eating, partly influenced by their friend Tara Punzone. 

Tara and Jay, who met by chance in 1993 at Club Med in the Turks and Caicos, had often talked about Tara’s lifelong dream to open a vegan Italian restaurant. In 2018 they turned her dream into a reality and opened Pura Vita—a plant-based Italian restaurant and bar—in West Hollywood. (They opened Pura Vita Pizzeria right next door two years later.)

In 2019, Danielle and Jay established Beach Life Fitness Boutique in Redondo Beach, where they have lived for more than 20 years. The studio offers a wide range of classes and services, including Pilates, yoga, teen fitness, trampoline, private training and nutritional coaching. When the restaurant adjacent to Beach Life Fitness closed during the COVID-19 shutdown, Danielle, Jay and Tara seized the opportunity and opened a Pura Vita location next to the studio—joining food and fitness in their own little compound.

Tell us about your businesses.

Danielle: “The motto of Beach Life Fitness Boutique is ‘fitness that feels good.’ I wanted to bring the relaxed, fun, active vibe of a resort into our studio while providing high-quality, safe, effective exercise programming for all members regardless of age, ability or injury. We want to help everyone feel their best. We are also very inclusive and have a wonderful community.”

Tara: “At Pura Vita, I use my Italian heritage and traditions—combined with my passion for veganism—to create traditional Southern Italian dishes that are 100% plant-based. I love to share this food with the community! We believe in treating all animals and our planet with full respect. We also pride ourselves on being 99% organic and making everything from scratch in our kitchens.”

What’s new and exciting with your business?

Danielle: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been offering outdoor Pilates reformer classes. We recently added JumpSport trampoline fitness. Every month we offer many fun events, including workout pop-ups like Burlesque and Bubbles and mind-body pop-ups themed around topics like breathwork or mindful eating. We collaborate on many events with Pura Vita like stand-up paddleboard yoga.”

What is your best piece of advice for a woman just starting in your line of work? 

Tara: “Women are strong. If you are truly passionate about the restaurant industry, set your intentions and prepare your mind for hard work. Don’t ever listen to anyone who says you can’t do it. You can and you will!”

Tell us about your background.

Danielle: “I have a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and multiple certifications in private training and functional movement. I serve on the medical education advisory board for the Medical Fitness Network and specialize in prenatal and postpartum fitness. I created a program for mothers and mothers-to-be called Coremomfitness (‘core’ stands for corrective obstetrical-related exercise). I am a national medical fitness presenter and continuing education course creator for women’s fitness for health care practitioners and fitness professionals.”

Tara: “I have been working in the food industry for more than 20 years. I attended the School of Visual Arts and have a master’s degree in fine art and photography. Culinary school was not an option for true vegans back in the day, so my kitchen experience comes from working my way up from the very bottom. I am from New York and worked at several fine-dining vegan restaurants in New York City before moving to L.A. and making my dreams a reality.”

In what ways do you empower other women to succeed in business?

Danielle: “I love to support other women entrepreneurs. I collaborate with many female business owners, whether it is offering a special class or service. I also provide space for female health care practitioners and fitness professionals to rent part time or full time and have their business at Beach Life Fitness Boutique. Working with Pura Vita Redondo and Chef Tara on events that combine food and fitness has been so great, and exposing Beach Life members to delicious vegan food is such a bonus.”

Tara: “I try to empower other women by sharing my story and always being honest. There is nothing women cannot do.”

What would be your ideal next big opportunity? 

Tara: “I want to write and design a beautiful recipe book filled with amazing food photography.”

In what ways are you an innovator or an influencer?

Danielle: “I pride myself on knowing what works in the fitness industry and what doesn’t. I saw a gap long ago in the lack of specialized exercise programming catering to women—especially pregnant women and new mothers. I wanted to acknowledge this and help them; when I started offering those services, there were not many fitness professionals doing that.”

Give us an example of a time you thought outside the box.

Tara: “I think most of the things I do are considered to be outside the box. Vegan Italian—untraditionally traditional. I never do anything ‘normal.’”