As the year ticks down one holiday calorie at a time, inevitably Angelenos start to think long and hard about resolutions that can be followed and kept via the best new fitness trends capable of delivering big results with staying power. With the emergence of ClassPass and the ability to switch in and out of a smorgasbord of different fitness specialties arranged like so many options on an ever-expanding, all-you-can-eat menu, the most workable trends seem to fall within two extremes best explained as a tendency toward pared-down, high-reward fitness versus big-community, bigger fun league and club experiences.
The more pared-down, Spartan-influenced trends tend to be centered around no-frills regimens that trade pricey equipment and long hours spent inside a traditional gym for shorter, higher-intensity routines that focus on the use of one’s own body weight as the only real equipment needed to achieve a great workout that can be done in just about any locale. Comprising 20- to 45-minute routines centered on basic compound exercises (dips, lunges, squats, push ups, burpies and the like) done in continuous intervals for a shorter overall workout time, this trend favors flexibility over the need for locked-in commitment to any one trainer or facility.
Then there's the concept of a well-defined club, league or group-membership experience into which you enlist as a devoted foot soldier in exchange for a full-bodied experience. That can include one or more of the big four: uniquely crafted ideology, instant community, signature amenities and innovative activities with just the right amount of whimsy to transcend anyone’s idea of a boring workout. These choices have that extra knockout punch of an implied lifestyle change versus ordinary fitness in a calculated bid to keep even the most recalcitrant members coming back when the going gets tough in the exercise doldrums of February, March and April.
Here is our short list of some great places around town to get you into that new-jack austerity swing, as well as that special clubby, communal state of mind depending upon your fitness trend preference this year.
When it comes to barebones, high-intensity regimens, boxing as a core workout is always a great way to go for those who don’t want to get too precious or too fancy while getting and staying fit. Nevertheless, if you are intimidated or even repulsed by the idea of going to an old-school, hole-in-the-wall boxing gym, Prevail has a refreshingly modern, high-intensity twist sans grit. As a rule, the crowd in attendance is serious but decidedly young and modern, so any newcomer, regardless of her skill set, is sure to find her way to the clear-cut regimen on offer. With little more than a giant digital timer affixed to the wall and a pristine row of hanging heavy bags facing a floor-length mirror, high-intensity, quick interval training is the order of the day with some serious sweat as a well-earned reward. 5957 W. Third Street, Fairfax. (323) 452-0101, prevaillosangeles.com.
With an owner who was a former heavyweight boxing contender (he fought the legendary Lennox Lewis), as well as the current trainer and/or conditioning coach to more than 15 world champions in pro boxing and MMA (including superstar Manny Pacquiao), Justin Fortune's Fortune Gym supplies the best of both worlds when it comes to field-tested, professional-grade fight training in three easy pieces. With daily classes, as well as private training available in boxing, Muy Thai and Jiu-Jitsu, the instruction is as no-nonsense as the gym’s training mantra: Go hard or go home. With facilities that offer unexpected touches of 1950s graphic-design glamour that would seem at odds with the stark but effective workouts within, in the coming New Year all classes will automatically include one-on-one sparring sessions with active professional fighters. 7574 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 845-4755, fortunegym.com.
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT, otherwise known as High-Intensity Interval Training, has no set location, which is a large part of its appeal as a trend to watch. With the ability to deliver a substantial fat-burning workouts without the shackles of expensive equipment or pricey locations, once you’ve got your routine down, you can exercise in a way that's as economically de-stressing as a walk to the park where you can work out on your own. But HIIT can only be done well when properly aligned to the correct form and order. For exercise newbies or those lacking the time and/or confidence to effectively vet personal trainers that can fit the bill, this can be an intimidating task. Consider joining an all-purpose fitness entity such as Equinox to do the investigative work for you. Due to the size and ubiquity of Equinox (locations in downtown, West L.A., Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Encino), you can trust that their trainers are legit. equinox.com and others.
BIG COMMUNITY, BIG MEMBERSHIP, BIG FUN
AIR Aerial Fitness
If you’ve ever had the desire to channel your inner acrobat, AIR Aerial Fitness is for you. Fitted with innovative but effective silk loops hanging from the ceiling just begging to be climbed on, twisted, scaled, swung upon and cocooned into, you can choose a high-energy, high-resistance fitness class or a more mellow and contemplative yoga class, which ends with complete envelopment into your own private silky-soft bat cave. Predicated on the theory that hanging upside down can help with increased lung capacity and inner flow, much of what AIR turns on its head are the basic tenets of rigorous athletic conditioning, ballet, pilates and yoga. There's a palpable thrill to mastering some of these moves. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s guaranteed that you will have a ball try, trying again to stick that workout pose in grand core-strengthening style. 8474 W. Third St., Beverly Grove. (203) 305-8447, airfitnow.com/locations.
World Dodgeball Society
As a postmodern return to those innocent childhood activities that kept us entertained and fit, too, Dodgeball has been making a huge resurgence for adults as a workout and a social activity. With a low initial fitness level required, everyone 18 and olde is welcome to partake and compete with the best of them. The competition can get fierce, but that hasn't stopped many dodgeballers from finding love on the court. With a nonprofit focus tied closely to Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, the Dodgeball Society has representation in West Hollywood, Echo Park, Westchester, West L.A., Silver Lake and Long Beach. Nevertheless, if you are still worried about coming off as being uncoordinated or uncool, never fear. Most participants begin with absolutely no game, but then after a few skirmishes start to emerge as real devils on the field. As they say, great dodgeballers are made, not born. dodgeball4ever.com.
L.A. Derby Dolls
If you want a cool and sexy workout, consider taking beginning and intermediate roller derby classes with the L.A. Derby Dolls. All of the hits are real and if you’re skating with someone you care about, hitting them the hardest while on the track proves that you love them enough to want to make them stronger for the experience. Men are welcome, but it’s exclusively a woman’s world when it comes to the competition circuit (men can become referees). Once you’re in, you’re way into a rich subculture with many rollers better known to one another by their roller derby aliases. The vibe is decidedly insular but more than worth the cost of immersion. 4900 Alhambra Ave., El Sereno. derbydolls.com/la.
As an enduring favorite, Soul Cycle isn’t so much cycling in the dark to incredible tunes alongside an electrified sea of pulsing humanity as it is a radical revolution for its participants. Indeed, after taking your first class, the amount of sweat pouring down your body is a rapid and invigorating baptism by fire. With locations in West Hollywood, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and a new location opening up in Culver City in early 2016, it is definitely a mind and body addiction with many of Los Angeles’ youngest and brightest. While the devotion is deep and complex, the particulars are blissfully simple: great music, beautiful people and a bike that says, yes, you too can become one with all of us if you just get up and ride. soul-cycle.com.