Ah, Los Angeles. At the intersection of beautiful weather, the entertainment industry and a deeply health-conscious culture, you can’t go more than a few steps before you’ll run into a personal trainer, yoga teacher or fitness model (sometimes it’s all the same person). There are exercise classes galore, as well as plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Here are a few ways to get started:
Get to the beach: The Pacific Ocean beckons to swimmers in the warmer summer and fall months, but you can trek along the sandy shores year-round. The 20th century fitness explosion was said to have started in the 1930s at Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach, which has since shifted to Venice Muscle Beach, a couple miles to the north. Look for inspiration from the bodybuilders, dancers and gymnasts who work out there daily and create a routine of your own on the equipment, which is available to everyone.
Take a Hike: The greater Los Angeles area has a path for everybody—figuratively and, of course, literally. Want to chase some waterfalls? Head to Escondido Falls in the Santa Monica Mountains or Switzer Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains. (These are best experienced after the winter rains, to see maximum waterfall power and beauty.) Pack up the pooch and jog through Runyon Canyon for stunning city vistas or visit the Griffith Park Observatory at the end of a steep mile-long uphill climb.
Outdoor Yoga: Before the heat scorches the day, morning-minded Angelenos convene outside for yoga classes of all kinds and all levels—be it beachfront or hilltop, with kids or without. Meetup has a comprehensive listing of classes. Or just DIY in a shady spot with a mat, blanket and yoga app, and salute your own sun.
Step it up: Back in the day, Los Angeles had a comprehensive public transportation system aided by long stairways, so commuters could quickly go to and from their stops. Today, although the Red Cars are gone, many of those staircases remain. The trek isn’t for the unambitious—in addition to your thigh and butt workout and a cardio boost, you get to explore parts of the city you’d perhaps never see otherwise. Discover Los Angeles has an excellent list of staircases to get you started.
Park It: The Department of Recreation and Parks has made a commitment to the city’s residents—free exercise opportunities for all. Dozens of parks are home to exercise equipment that promotes strength and flexibility, so you can design your own circuit training or just focus on a particular movement. To pack even more power into your workout, add in a run.
In a city like this, known for its car culture, people actually love walking the neighborhoods, along the LA River and through Griffith Park. But shhhh, don’t tell anyone. It’s our best-kept secret. Just let folks keep thinking that nobody walks in LA.