Running is boring. Treadmills make me feel like a rat in an experiment. And tennis — my racket is somewhere, and, do I have to sign up for a court somewhere, or…never mind, I'm tired already.
Sometimes you need to think outside the box to get motivated to get off your butt. Here are the 10 best workouts in L.A. for people who hate working out, from our Best of L.A. issue.
10. Best Easy Bike Trail
When Angelenos think of bike trails, the picture that comes to mind is either an asphalt route along a concrete channel or a crowded beach path à la Three's Company, where the ride is overshadowed by playing Frogger with pedestrians. But away from the madding crowd lies Duarte Bike Trail, a well-shaded, 1.6-mile, multi-use path sandwiched between a solid middle-class neighborhood and multimillion-dollar mansions. Once a Pacific Electric Railway line, the path starts at Royal Oaks Park and ends at Buena Vista Street. It's fairly flat and straight, making it the ideal place to try out your new self-propelled transport of choice. Pet- and tot-friendly, the path is shared by horses, rollerbladers, bikers and joggers. People riding fast are well-mannered, pedestrians move aside and it's probably the most urbane suburban Class 1 path in Los Angeles County. If you're aching for more, the larger San Gabriel Bike Path is just down the road. 2627 Royal Oaks Drive, Duarte.
9. Best Hike to an Elfin Grotto
The hike to Escondido Falls starts in a dusty little parking lot just off Pacific Coast Highway on a road called Winding Way, and climbs up past sprawling homes with stables, batting cages and vineyards, through coastal scrub and chaparral, before descending into shady Santa Monica Mountain oak groves, which are home to cottontailed bunnies and fawns. The halfway point for the 4.2-mile trek is a spongy hollow bisected by a moss-covered, multitiered, 150-foot-tall waterfall. For best results, go after a good rain; in the dry season, the falls is reduced to a steady diamond drip. Trailhead starts about one block before the dead end of Winding Way, Malibu.
8. Best Rockout Workout
Got aggressions that need to be worked out? Love heavy music? Wanna be as lean as Tommy Lee? Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, who love drumming, dance and fitness, have developed what may be the next major phenomenon in exercise: Pound. Slamming drumsticks into the floor as hard as you can while doing specially tailored Pilates and cardio routines might seem like raucous fun, but this is no “get physical” fad. The gals have developed special resin sticks (“ripstix”) that provide resistance that goes beyond wood. The room takes on a primal, almost hypnotic feel when everyone is pounding in unison. There are no self-conscious leg-warmer types here, either. The instructors wear faded rock tees and Chucks. The classes are packed and very loud (some participants wear earplugs). If it sounds like the pit at a rock concert, it kinda is — especially the post-show euphoria part. Only here, you're the rock star. Classes are currently available at local Crunch Fitness locations. poundfit.com.—Lina Lecaro
7. Best Beach Yoga
Armed only with a laminated sign on a stick stuck into the sand and his Beach Yoga With Brad Facebook page, Brad Keimach offers light to moderate yoga at the shoreline each weekend for a suggested minimum donation of 10 bucks — which is, without a doubt, better than paying $19 to a stanky studio. Get your Namaste on with the seagulls and beach bums on a strip of sand just out from Barnard Way and Sea Colony Drive in Santa Monica. You'll enjoy your downward dog with seafoam tickling your heels. Keimach has taught yoga for 12 years (four on the beach), and student yogis can count on his encouraging, sunny disposition even when the weather is gray and cloudy. Oh, and he's conducted concerts with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and studied under Leonard Bernstein. An educator, music historian and conductor, he says of the connection between yoga and composing and performing classical pieces, “Both require deep inner work, and both have an outer manifestation.” Thanks to Brad, your weekend workout's outer manifestation can get you a nice tan, too. bradkeimach.com.—Wendy Gilmartin
Next: Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing
6. Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing
Baring one's body (especially the belly area) obviously takes a certain level of confidence and comfort, but covered or uncovered, moving the tummy and hips in a focused and sensual manner is not easy. At Dance Garden L.A., even the most timid will learn to love doing both if they keep up with classes. The intimate Atwater Village studio, owned by dancers Jenna Rose and Zahra Zuhair, offers extensive bellydance instruction for all levels and ages, with styles including Bellydance, Tribal Fusion, Bollywood, samba and more. All are welcome, but the woman power is especially palpable and always encouraging, never intimidating. “Magical” Mondays offer all levels of belly moves throughout the evening, while Tuesdays focus on specific skills such as cymbals and veil work. Hump night belongs to scene queen Princess Farhana, who attracts students ranging from housewives to burlesque babes to punk chicks. We recommend this one both for her witty repartee (and Hollywood rock-scene anecdotes) and for the kick-ass — or rather kick-abs — workout. 3407 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village. (323) 660-4556, dancegardenla.com.
5. Best Place to Learn the Art of Burlesque
Move over, Dita Von Teese. Burlesque isn't just for the stage anymore, thanks to Hells Belles Burlesque, a five-person troupe whose training ranges from ballet to fire dancing, which has transformed the centuries-old seductive art form with a rock & roll twist. Tucked in a high-rise dance studio near Hollywood & Highland, the troupe teaches classes and workshops to students of all stripes, who explore their sexuality in a comfortable, safe environment — and get a pretty serious, sweat-inducing workout. The one-hour classes include classic burlesque moves and intense choreography performed to the likes of Aerosmith's “Crazy,” while students tone their muscles and increase their flexibility between hair swings. It's also a big confidence booster and cheap therapy for women going through tough times in their personal lives, says Hells Belles' Natasha Vee, whose class is wildly popular. The group also offers bachelorette-party packages and special-occasion classes if you prefer to conduct your thrusting a little more privately. IDA Hollywood, 6755 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (424) 265-0699, hellsbellesburlesque.com.
4. Best Beach Volleyball Alternative
If you sometimes fantasize about taking that beach volleyball and nailing your opponent with it, you might want to consider Venice Beach Dodgeball Saturdays, a monthly event in which you can try out a new sport while still getting your fix of sun, sand and sea. Players' faces may be fierce, but this is a friendly environment. Dodgeballers of all levels are welcome and, so say the veterans, the foam balls don't even sting! Pickup games on multiple courts take place in the afternoon on the second Saturday of every month, and it's only $5 to join. Bring a little extra cash, though, as drinking and mingling post-game are always on the agenda. Venice Beach at Washington Boulevard, Venice. dodgeballrevolution.com.
Next: Best Gender-Specific Hikes
3. Best Gender-Specific Hikes
Sometimes a hike is just a hike. Other times it's a way to commune with nature. But other times, it can be a way to commune with yourself and those around you. Such is the case if you join up with either the Moving Men's Group, for you gents, or the WoManifestation Circle Hikes, for the ladies. Each group-oriented, gender-specific, guided hike, led by NextGent and the Women's Wisdom Community, respectively, has its own way of doing things, but in both cases, the goal is to weave self-reflection into collected wisdom and insight as the group moves and grows together. Men's hikes includes two breaks for discussion, at the halfway point and at the end, in which the hikers explore a particular theme — relationships, careers, purpose, balance, community — and uncover ways to develop and improve. The women's hikes begin with a statement of intention, followed by a silent hike to a summit where the hikers circle, with each participant getting 10 minutes of the group's full attention. Neither hike is preachy or meant to be “therapy.” They're meant to channel the group's masculine or feminine energy into individual improvement — all while enjoying a spectacular view. MMG is first Sunday of the month at N. Vermont Ave. near Roosevelt Golf Course at noon. No RSVP required. WCH is first Saturday of the month at Griffith Park, RSVP required. Nextgent.com; Womenswisdomcommunity.com.
2. Best Adult Ballet Classes
The ballet world isn't all Black Swan, although the film boosted the popularity of this classical dance style. Adults are flocking to classes, some to brush up on technique, others to stretch their toes for the first time. At the Colburn School downtown, beginning and intermediate classes for adults (along with music and dance programs for youth) draw a dedicated following — musicians, writers, lawyers, engineers, architects, TV producers and others. Dreams of dancing “Swan Lake” with the Bolshoi? Not quite. Students hope to master grand jetés and pirouettes in a supportive and enjoyable environment, and perhaps perform in Colburn's annual recital. Learn a technique that's close to King Louis XIV's style from the 1600s. Most important, join a dance-loving community that lines up at the barre week after week — with live piano accompaniment to boot. 200 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (213) 621-2200, colburnschool.edu. —Daina Beth Solomon
1. Best Place to Paint the Town Red…Literally
Yes, we can all agree that war is bad. But wouldn't you rather have all this primal aggression released in a controlled environment, with humans hit with splatters of gelatinous paint rather than real bullets? Of course you would. And if you're ready to suit up and enjoy America's favorite and most intense fake-war simulation game, head on down to Time 2 Paintball in Artesia, where knowledgeable owner Tony will do his best to match you up with paintball equipment that best suits your level, ambitions and warrior spirit, be that an EGO 11, a Dye DM8 or an X7 Phenom. Tony gives a lifetime guarantee on certain products, which is great because parts do break if used extensively. He also repairs and rebuilds gear, sells his products at a low price and never steers newbies toward stuff they don't need. If you've ever secretly fantasized about shooting someone, paintball is the safe, harmless and legal way to do it — and this shop is where you suit up. 12236 South St., Artesia. (562) 809-2212. facebook.com/Time2Paintball.
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