Keeping fit in L.A.—What's Cool in West Hollywood

From Soul Cycle spin classes to Pop Physique’s ballet barre – so many of our favourite fitness trends have their genesis in the City of Angels. The sprawling city is a mecca for the fitness-obsessed, and these days, the centre of it all is glamorous West Hollywood.

Set along Santa Monica Boulevard as it curves towards the Hollywood Hills, the district is peppered with well-heeled yogis, spin studios, and vegan-leaning cafes. It's a place to see and be seen, and the birthplace of many things fashionable in dining, drinking, design, and health and well being.

While some fitness fads live and die in LA ('vampire' facials, for example), many do work their way across the Pacific to become long-lasting cult hits here in Australia. When it comes to working out and chilling out, West Hollywood keeps it upbeat and interesting, and whether you believe in the die-hard philosophy or not, there's always something fun to try. 

Here are three of our favourite health and fitness activities having a moment right now in LA – some we hope to see here soon. 

Sweat it out at Shape House

Located just off Melrose Avenue, Shape House is an urban sweat lodge where patrons enjoy FAR infrared therapy while tucked into heated beds, sipping alkaline water, and streaming movies or TV shows. 

Infrared sauna sessions are already catching on in Australia, for their promise to de-stress and detoxify more attentively than a regular Finnish-style steam room. While it's essentially the same idea, Shape House is a little more intense with a whole lot more sweating involved.

For your 55-minute session, you'll be given track pants, a long sleeve shirt and socks to wear, before being tucked into bed and wrapped snuggly in a heat blanket. You're given a bottle of antioxidant-rich alkaline water, headphones, a TV remote, and call button. On your personal television is a full library of streaming services (Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more), but you're also able to listen to music, close your eyes, and zone out.

With beds set to a sizzling 74-degrees Celsius, it won't be long before you are dripping, but the final 20-minutes are typically the most intense.

The idea is to use the natural infrared energy to warm you from the inside out, and the benefits of the sweat session include glowing skin, deeper sleep, increased energy, burning more calories both during and after the session, and lowering stress levels.

Start climbing at Rise Nation

This boutique studio in West Hollywood uses 80s-era VersaClimber machines as the ultimate high-intensity cardio workout. The climbing machines, intended to mimic the sensation of climbing a mountain, are momentum neutral - meaning you do all the work to move, pumping all your major muscle groups as you climb.

Created by former celebrity personal trainer Jason Walsh, Rise Nation reinforces proper movement patterns and is a zero impact conditioning tool - meaning it isn't heavy on joints, or taxing on muscles. Classes are just 30 minutes long, which makes it much more efficient both time-wise and results-wise compared to other high-intensity cardio sessions. 

According to the Rise Nation website, "climbing uses the body’s primal upright biomechanics, promoting healthy spinal alignment, a balanced physique, and neuromuscular coordination."

A bit like Soul Cycle, or Cycology here in Australia, you're in a nightclub-style room, with flashing lights, fun music, and an energetic instructor to help you keep pace and stay energised. 

Group box at CruBox

CruBox's house-made program isn't quite like a regular boxing session. In the sleek, chrome coloured studio, participants work on and off with heavy boxing bags, shadowboxing, HIIT and core work, for a 50-minute full-body workout that aims to burn between 600 and 800 calories. 

Appropriate for seasoned boxers and newcomers alike, CruBox will impart techniques that will allow you to throw punches and slip jabs like the pros. As well as burning calories, the benefits include a higher metabolism and increased energy in your day-to-day.

Standard classes are music-driven, with no phones allowed and timed water breaks. There's a faster-paced class called CRUHIIT set at double the speed, and a hot boxing class that takes place in a heated room.

This piece was published for Lifestyle, on 21 May, 2018. 

Image by me, after a sweat session at Shape House.