If there’s anything we are not lacking in Los Angeles, it’s places to work out. But finding the perfect gym to tone, slim down or — dare we even say it — find a date is a highly subjective decision.
Then there’s that old real estate rule of location, location, location; You want a gym close to you so you’ll actually go to it, but also one that has the amenities that make you want to go to it. Big box chains will have more gyms in different areas, but they also can be more crowded than a cattle call casting session. Most neighborhoods will have more intimate, boutique gyms — workout studios that can be more expensive and also render themselves useless by one job change or apartment rental.
Taking all of this into consideration, we scoured the city for 10 of the best gyms in Los Angeles.
10. Hollywood Boxing Gym
A few blocks away from the tourist-heavy Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood Boxing Gym is a reminder that Hollywood’s side streets are still for the locals. A gym rat’s paradise, it’s open 24 hours and concentrates more on affordable membership prices and top-notch classes (including a boxing ring on the top floor) than on lavish decor or fancy gadgets like ellipticals with built-in TVs. 1551 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd., (323) 845-1420, www.hollywoodgym.com.
9. 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport, Hollywood
Although the parking situation is obnoxious (Really? You can’t fully validate?), it’s actually not open 24 hours, seven days a week, and the bathrooms can get a little grubby by the end of the day, the 24 Hour Fitness next to ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood is a spacious gym that has just about everything a person could want from a workout space: a pool, two group aerobics rooms (one for cycling, another for regular classes like Zumba and yoga), plus plenty of machines and a TRX Suspension Training workout area. 6380 W. Sunset Blvd., Hlywd., (323) 461-2024, www.24hourfitness.com.
8. 220 Fitness, Santa Monica
This is what your friends in flyover country picture when you say you’ve joined a gym: outdoor boxing classes, yoga on the beach and cycling classes that incorporate karaoke. 220 Fitness is tiny and parking can be a pain (there’s an overflow lot on Marine and Second Streets), but this neighborhood studio embraces a sort of family mentality where everyone seems to know each other and the focus is more on fun interaction than on just getting in a workout and hightailing it out of there.
3002 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 314-0220, www.220fitness.com.
7. Asylum Gym L.A., Pasadena
Located in the basement below a Melting Pot restaurant, this privately owned space is the perfect place to go for those who cannot afford (or don’t want to commit to) personal training but also are worried about the intensity of a boot camp or Crossfit class. Former Olympian Herman Baptiste opened Asylum Gym L.A. in November 2011 with a focus on small-group personal training sessions (no more than six people) that incorporate strength, conditioning and yoga sessions. There are also body symmetry classes that target just abdominals and gluteal muscles and 30-minute lunchtime workouts for those with hectic schedules. 87 Fraser Alley, Pasadena, (626) 584-9600, www.asylumgymla.com.
6. Spectrum Athletic Clubs, El Segundo
The word “spacious” doesn’t even begin to describe the South Bay Spectrum: Two, maybe three, of the other clubs on this list could easily fit inside it. While this chain gives off a more preppy, polished vibe than some of the others on this list (this location has a full-on cafe and a spa, plus chairs and flat-screen TVs in the locker room), it also give the elite clientele what they pay for. Midafternoon seems to be the only time classes regularly aren’t in session (there are two group fitness rooms, plus a cycling room and — for a little extra — a Pilates studio), there seems to be a constant stream of cleaning crew members tidying up the joint, and the sheer size means there’s never too long a wait for a cardio machine. 2250 Park Place, El Segundo, (310) 643-6878, www.spectrumclubs.com.
5. YAS Fitness Center
The YAS centers concentrate on two things — the name is an acronym for yoga and spin — and do them both exceedingly well. Developed in 2001 by fitness expert Kimberly Fowler, this is not a gym in the traditional sense of the word. YAS only offers classes and they normally come in the form of a half-hour of no-nonsense spinning, followed by a half-hour of yoga that is geared more toward athletic strengthening than spirituality. The Silver Lake location’s asphalt decor can seem a little impersonal, and the single shower doesn’t do any favors to those wanting to pick up a class before work, but the place’s proximity to the Silver Lake farmers market makes it a popular Saturday morning destination. 1932 Hyperion Ave., L.A., (323) 665-6011, www.go2yas.com.
4. TriFit, Santa Monica
An office building gym doesn’t usually conjure up thoughts of swim classes taught by a triathlete, a yoga studio with a private entrance and cycling classes with a flat-screen TV showing videos of rough, outdoor terrain. Yet all of this is readily available at TriFit in the Yahoo! building in Santa Monica, making it a favorite way for nearby office dwellers to avoid some of the 10 freeway’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour. Although the gym is open to everyone and those who live in the neighborhood can — and do — join, this gym is very much a before-and-after work destination. There’s even an ironing board in the women’s locker room to ensure you look impeccable for your morning meetings. 2425 Colorado Ave., #120, Santa Monica, (310) 829-2227, www.trifitla.com.
3. Equinox, Santa Monica
With its controversial “Are You Skinny Fat?” campaign and sell-your-kidney-and-buy-an-iPad pricetag, Equinox is not for everyone. However, those who can afford it quickly become addicted to the multitude of classes (the Santa Monica location has nearly 100 a week), fancy equipment and impeccable cleanliness. The Santa Monica location embraces its near beachfront property by keeping a Zenlike decor with dark wood and sleek design. Plus, the multiple levels make it easy to separate the see-and-be-seen cardio lovers from those who’d just like a little peace and quiet as they power through their elliptical routine. 201 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 593-8888, www.equinox.com.
2. Breakthru Fitness, Pasadena
A new take on a mom-and-pop: Husband-and-wife team Phil and Michelle Dozoirs’ Breakthru Fitness is a modern gym with all the amenities of the expensive chains, yet without the high enrollment fees. This is the place to find locals interested in spinning and cardio classes (there are more than 75 group fitness classes a week) or who just want to take advantage of the state-of-the-art machines and free towel service before hitting the (sparkling clean) showers. 345 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, (626) 396-1700, www.breakthrufitness.com.
1. Crunch Fitness, Burbank
Crunch Fitness, the folks who helped make poledancing aerobics classes happen, had some rough years during the recession (the company that owned them at the time filed for Chapter 11 in 2009), but they are still going strong with their inventive classes and funky vibe — in fact, they opened another L.A.-area gym at the beginning of April across from the Ikea in Burbank. Monthly fees are considerably lower than expected, meaning that you can have all the cachet and bonuses of an elite gym (antigravity yoga that lets you hang from harnesses; dance classes created by a “Dancing With the Stars” choreographer) without the hefty pricetag. 761 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, (818) 336-9300, www.crunch.com.
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