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In the land of the body beautiful, there is simply so much on offer that we didn’t know where to begin when we first arrived in Venice. After a bit of trial and error – we tried classes and gyms that definitely did not make our list! – we found some places that really did prove why LA is the fitness capital of the world.
Here are a collection of the yoga studios and workouts we went back to (and ones we would definitely recommend to friends):
Power Yoga (Santa Monica)
Bryan Kest’s PowerYoga studio is in the heart of Santa Monica, a few minutes from the beach and round the corner from our favourite SoulCycle in LA. The space on 2nd street is soulful and we hope that if you’re passing through LA you make it a point to sample this quintessential SaMo yoga experience. The room is large and airy and, while that are no frills to this place, you’re here for Bryan and the teachers who are, without doubt, the best of the best. All classes are donation-based but Bryan’s reputation reaches far and wide and you’ll find that most of them are packed to the rafters because the teaching is so good. If you can’t make it to Santa Monica, they have a substantial online offering as well for the price of a class anywhere else per month, with a 7-day free trial to boot.
YogaWorks (Main St. Santa Monica)
YogaWorks Santa Monica is just a few steps from the beach on laid-back Main Street. This street is packed with surf shops, vegan cafes and green lifestyle boutiques. In tune with its location, this friendly yoga studio is home to the flip-flop crowd, attracting local designers, serious hardbodies and many long time yoga practitioners who enjoy a range of classes from beginner to advanced.
They have an extra large yoga room with skylights, showers and a boutique with the best of local trends. Challenging Vinyasa Flow classes are all the rage here, with YogaWorks’ signature classes offered for Beginners with some of the best teachers around, including Mia Togo, Kia Miller and Vinnie Marino.
Angelenos are so lucky to have this place on their doorstep. We loved the set up of Wanderlust and took a couple of classes with the great Noah Maze here. It’s the perfect place to practice, listen, taste, learn and gather. Wanderlust Hollywood is a fusion of classes and experiences ranging from yoga to jewellery making. Through sharing practice, food and ideas, these guys are building a thriving community of creatives and seekers.
The centre, much like their transformational festivals, brings together experts, techniques and recipes for living that guides your journey towards a mindful and inspired life — to finding your true north, as they put it. Whether you’re a yogi, a meditator, an artist, a foodie, an entrepreneur, a writer, a musician or simply looking for inspiration. Wanderlust Hollywood is three floors of amazingness, there’s even a super-healthy café to nourish your body and soul manned by celebrated chef, Seamus Mullen.
The Yoga Collective (Venice)
The Yoga Collective in Venice Beach is a real neighbourhood studio situated a few doors down from Café Gratitude and across the road from Moon Juice. TYC like to keep things simple and friendly in a down to earth studio that’s funky and peaceful at heart. Lauren Eckstrom and Travis Eliot lead the line up here so you’re in extremely good hands. They also have a passionate group of teachers ready to guide you through your movements and breathing. If you’re hankering after TYC’s classes but not in Venice any time soon, then try their online classes (for the price of a bowl of granola and a green juice per month!). Better yet, sign up for their 15-day free trial to see if their yoga floats your boat.
Ra Ma Institute (Venice)
Founded by Guru Jagat in June 2013, the RA MA Institute in the heart of Venice is a gathering place for wellness trendsetters and teachers who want to learn how to use Kundalini yoga as a tool to chemically release, strengthen and activate the genetic code, while igniting the energy centres of the body, mind and spirit. Featuring an expansive studio with hand-stencilled beams, carved woodwork and reclaimed hardwood floors, there’s also a top notch retail space with exclusive fashion and lifestyle brand collaborations. The Institute is THE place for learning the incredible science behind Kundalini where locals come to regroup, re-energise and re-focus.
Gold’s Gym (Venice)
Opposite the new Google complex in one of the coolest parts of Venice, you’ve got the legendary Gold’s Gym. We tried it out a few times and there is some serious muscle in there, so much so that we didn’t know where to look! It was all very distracting.
Here’s the backstory: in 1965, former bodybuilder and US Marine, Joe Gold opened up a gym in Venice California as a place for himself and his friends to train. Charging $60 a year, Joe kept costs down by making his own gym equipment, skimping on the heating and recruiting every bodybuilder worth their salt as a member. Unbeknownst to Joe, his simple gym would eventually become an institution in the fitness world. Predictions that the gym would be a hot bed for training proved to be true and within five years Gold’s evolved into a veritable who’s who of the bodybuilding world with legends like Zane, Arnold and Franco all regular attendees. However, as the gym became increasingly popular, its owner became increasingly disgruntled: the gym was a money pit. In 1970, Gold sold the gym for $50,000 and became a merchant marine.
Today it’s still a super serious place for body builders though the clientele has expanded. It’s got such a disciplined vibe and we loved it for that. We didn’t sign up as our stay in Venice was short and sweet, but they do one day passes so if you like weight and want to experience this place we think it’s worth the US$20 to do so. We certainly thought so.
Barry’s Bootcamp (Venice)
We won’t say much more about this place as it’s similar to the London one we frequent and it’s really good! If you want a challenge then go!
Orange Theory (Santa Monica)
It’s a chain of gyms across the county and we tried the one in sunny Santa Monica. Backed up by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC), Orange Theory’s heart rate-monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. A typical Orange Theory Fitness workout is about 55-60 minutes in length and includes both cardiovascular and strength training intervals broken up into blocks with breaks in-between.
Participants are split into two groups, with one group beginning on the treadmills and one group beginning on the indoor water-rowers. Although participants start in different places, they each get the chance to experience the same total workout throughout the one-hour class. All participants wear a heart-rate monitor, with real-time readings showing on monitors in the studio during class. We think it’s a really smart and efficient way of getting fit fast and in many ways it feels personal despite being in a class environment because you’re working at your own heart rate pace. You can drop in to classes, so they’re worth checking out.
Soulcycle (Santa Monica)
We’re not sure Soulcycle needs an introduction, but in case you’ve not heard about this cult-like workout phenomenon, SoulCycle is indoor cycling re-invented. Forty-five to sixty-minutes to transform the way you look and feel. Get ready for fat-burning cardio, a full-body workout (with added hand weights and choreography to work your core). SoulCycle isn’t about just changing bodies, but changing lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces and rocking soundtracks, they want riders to let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls. We tried several teachers and studios but our favourite by far was the 60 minute Soul Survivor Session with Lyndsay Buckley. She truly rocked!
Have a great workout! & remember if all else fails hit the trails and the canyons.
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