10 Best Ways to Get in Shape in L.A.
You see the flab. You want the flab gone. You want it gone now.
There's no New Year's resolution. There's no wedding dress to fit into. It's just getting in shape time. Because you just can't stand it any more.
Here are the 10 best ways to get in shape in L.A., from our Best of L.A. issue. And you can also try picking up a copy of the issue and lifting it a few times -- it's big.
10. Best Running Trail
This beautifully wild, seemingly remote pocket of nature, the Betty B. Dearing Mountain Trail via Mulholland, runs in a 3.3-mile loop from the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook off Mulholland Drive in the Studio City/Laurel Canyon area. However, some people approach the narrow dirt track from TreePeople's site, via Iredell Street, a 7-mile-plus round trip. As you fly through the native chaparral, hummingbirds and bumblebees feast on flowering shrubs by your side. Be warned that the descent at the beginning of the hike is a long, burly ascent on the return. Linger at the "rainforest" at the bottom, or even end your walk there. If you're looking to tear up the trail and burn serious calories, though, continue to Iredell Street, then turn back and hustle up all the hills that seemed much less sloped on the way down. Enjoy the water fountain and the view of the San Fernando Valley at the end of a rewarding workout. 8401 Mulholland Drive. lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=15. —Jacky Surber
9. Best Cycle Instructor
The L.A. Fitness on La Cienega and 18th Street is a worn-down, overcrowded swampland, but every Saturday morning it's home to a stampede, as members of all ages and sizes clamor for one of the coveted spots in Ellie Wenzel-Wright's cycle class. A BMX champion with more than 30 years of aerobics teaching experience, who also practices kickboxing and step and body works, Wenzel-Wright, 47, is a traditionalist. Imagine Liz Lemon's "hipster nonsense" quote to approximate the look on her face at the mention of clubs like SoulCycle. Her cycle classes are 55 minutes of intense, gimmick-free cardio accompanied by whatever music she can think of to get her class going. And if that means hopping off her bike to do her best Tina Turner impression during "Proud Mary," then so be it. 1833 S. La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City. (310) 202-6823; lafitness.com.
8. Best Chin-Ups and Dirt Track Workout
"The secret to get good at chin-ups? Knock out 20, every hour, all day, every day," the teardrop-tattooed man instructs, lats flaring. "That takes a lot of time." "Oh, I had time ..." Talking training in public parks can teach you far more than what you learn in some patronizing, bougie health club. Some parks shine in this regard, and where the Bronx has Van Cortlandt, Silver Lake has Bellevue Recreation Center. Cradled in a saddle of acreage south of Sunset Boulevard, it boasts hoops, ball fields, an indoor rec center and a real draw for the frugal and fit: an undulating, easy-on-the-knees, dirt running track, much of it tree-shaded. Even better is Bellevue's array of steel workout sculptures, a garden of pull-up bars, dip bars and rings (tip: Chin-ups on these are safest for elbows) that hard types use to get pumped. Broke, with a penchant for eating? Get food stamps. Broke and want to stay fit? Hit up this Great Recession gym. Your membership is prepaid. 826 Lucile Ave., Silver Lake. (323) 664-2468, laparks.org/dos/reccenter/facility/bellevueRC.htm. —Howie Stier
7. Best Fitness Boot Camp
A workout boot camp is probably only as good as its drill sergeant ... er, trainer. Sure, West Coast Boot Camp's La Cañada location is pleasant and easily accessible from the 2 or 210 freeways, and the interior workout space feels clean and purposeful, with its neatly arranged weights and the craggy camo/netting landscape on the ceiling. But when owner/trainer Adrian Pietrariu bounds out from behind the counter, you can tell that, at this place, a can-do spirit irrepressibly spills down from the top. Having emigrated from revolution-torn Romania as a teen, the lean, well-muscled and amiable Pietrariu dove into personal physical development with the zeal of the newly arrived. He recently won four medals at the International Natural Bodybuilding Association competition and led two boot camp clients to win their categories as well. While his bulging 'ceps may intimidate the prospective client, Pietrariu prides himself on being a "tough but loving" coach who does whatever he can to keep regular folks sticking to the program. Now is the time to enlist! 1049 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge. (818) 850-1049, westcoastbootcamp.com. —Adam Gropman
Next: Best In-Town Outdoor Running Track
6. Best In-Town Outdoor Running Track
As much as we brag about our weather, we do see some sweltering days that leave us sopping wet and cursing yet another boring 30-minute treadmill run in our under–air-conditioned gym. That's when we head to the 2.2-mile track surrounding the Silver Lake Reservoir. Cool breezes come off the water, and just when the sun's beating down a bit too intensely, you hit a shady stretch. Much of the path is knee-friendly dirt, not pavement. Jogging past the grassy knoll where families fly kites on the east side and the doggie park on the south side keeps a smile on your face. A couple water fountains and a well-kept public bathroom are welcome amenities. Oh, and parking? Never an issue, because believe it or not, this spot is rarely overrun. 1854 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake.
5. Best Outdoor Stair Workout, Eastside
The 3-mile Tomato Pie Walk in Silver Lake sounds like no big deal until you realize it involves climbing up 735 steps and down 610 steps. Somehow you end up right where you started — the Tomato Pie Pizza Joint. It's a serious workout, followed by a serious helping of pizza. The Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates, led by Dave Ptach, organizes this walk most Tuesday nights. It's an uncommonly intimate experience, for L.A. The stairs bring you right up to people's living room windows, at an hour when they're getting home and cooking dinner and watching TV. It's nearly urban, yet it's also secluded. Great views, too. Tomato Pie Pizza Joint, 2457 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. facebook.com/pages/Los-Angeles-Stairstreet-Advocates/106919209354668.
4. Best Outdoor Stair Workout, South L.A.
When it's too nice to be in a gym and thoughts of the Santa Monica stairs (parking and tourists!) and Runyon Canyon (parking and hipsters!) turn sour, there is a relatively quick, family-friendly way to get buns of steel at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. In less than half an hour, visitors to this public park can sprint, jump or leisurely walk up the 375 steep, uneven slabs of concrete and earth. The reward — aside from the aerobic excursion — is a breathtaking, panoramic view of Los Angeles. While it's open from 8 a.m. to sunset daily, the best time to go is at the end of the day, as temperatures cool and the sun sets over the city in sometimes glorious ways. 6300 Hetzler Road, Culver City. (310) 558-5547, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22790. —Whitney Friedlander
Next: Best Difficult Bike Trail
3. Best Difficult Bike Trail
It could alternately be called the best or worst, depending on how many times you crash, but the 16 miles of single-track trail -- cutting across oak-dotted hills and a dusty, manzanita-covered mountainside with views of Pyramid Lake, Quail Lake and the Antelope Valley — is breathtaking either way. The Golden Eagle Mountain Biking Trail in Angeles National Forest starts on the Old Ridge Route, rustic predecessor to the I-5 Grapevine, where, buried underneath the sage, is the foundation of the former Sandberg Summit Hotel, a ritzy rest stop for Model T Fords and Studebakers making the long, windy drive between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Today, the remote trail and an adjacent fire road, marked with a bullet-riddled "No Thru Traffic" sign, usually are empty — which just means riders who make the trek have carpets of wildflowers (in spring) or curtains of fall colors (in autumn) all to themselves. Take I-5 to the 138 toward Lancaster and turn right at Old Ridge Route. The trailhead is about 3 miles up.
2. Best Twist on Pilates
Fabulously located on the corner of Sunset and Vine, Cyclelates offers an array of classes to help you obtain personal training results without the personal training price tag. Its namesake Cyclelates class is a hybrid workout that combines an intense 35 minutes of Pilates on the reformer with a sweat-inducing 20 minutes of cycling. This super-effective class will leave you breathless and panting for more (er, or less). And for those in need of a little additional inspiration, nothing beats watching the scantily clad models of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show projected overhead for your viewing pleasure. While you may never be the ideal 5-foot, 9-inch height of one of their models, those slim-with-curves dimensions may just one day become a reality. 1555 N. Vine St., #110, Hlywd. (213) 373-1758, cyclelates.com. —Melissa Faust
1. Best Rock Climbing
A painless 30-minute drive out of the San Fernando Valley transports you to Texas Canyon, a nearly pristine desert landscape free from the bustle of the city. This area boasts a towering dome of sandstone conglomerate (for all you geology geeks), with stacks of surrounding boulders and pinnacles on rolling hills, which fade into the horizon. You'll find a variety of different-grade climbs for all ability levels. The routes are somewhat footwork-intensive but fun and thought-provoking nonetheless. It makes a leisurely outing with plenty of scenic trails for running and dirt biking, but most importantly, it's dog-friendly, unlike other major climbing areas such as Malibu Creek State Park and Joshua Tree National Park. Stay for the ethereal sunset and you'll feel like you're on the set of an old Western, waiting to ride off into the night. Directions: 5 freeway North to the 14 freeway East to Palmdale. Exit Sand Canyon and turn left. Go 2 miles over the hill to Sierra Highway and turn right. After approximately 5 miles, turn left at Rowher Flat OHRV Area sign. Go 2 miles to a gated fire road at the ridge. Follow the fire road on foot 1/4 mile to the crags.
And if you want to do it all on your own, click to the next page for one for good luck:
Pole-dancing classes mean never say die! This chain, known for its multitude of cutting-edge classes, such as the famous spin workouts and the more unusual AntiGravity Yoga and X-Pole Dancing, offers the perfect mix: the reliability of a chain with the creativity of a boutique gym. The Crunch Fitness Burbank location opened across from Ikea at the beginning of April and boasts a clean, industrial-style atmosphere, easy parking and monthly fees that are considerably lower than some gyms' pre-recession, bankruptcy-inducing payments. Here, ponying up for all that TRX training and Zumba won't result in sacrificing a new outfit to show off the hard work. 761 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. (818) 336-9300, crunchburbank.com.
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