Miss A Columnist

Melissa Curtin covers charity and style related events and loves to cover LA's best in beauty, fashion, and culture. She is an educator who recently returned to the classroom to motivate and inspire third graders at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In 2012, she launched an educational T-shirt line called Wear2learn. When she is not working out, hiking a canyon, or at the beach, she is writing. Her latest dream come true has been travel writing for Johnny Jet.

After teaching in the Maryland public school system for almost a decade, she left the conservative East Coast environment in Washington, DC for West Coast living. Eager for adventure, inner growth, and a new environment, she packed her car and took to the open road on her own landing in her new home - Hollywood, California. As a Connecticut Yankee at heart, she has now lived in Los Angeles for six years surrounded by the stars.

Melissa graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in psychology and art history. Soon after, she earned a Master's Degree in education. Melissa traveled around the world on Semester at Sea, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship which enabled her to teach in England. A lust for travel and learning has fueled her globe trotting ever since. Some of her favorite destinations are Costa Rica, Thailand, Fiji, Morocco, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Sicily, Prague, Egypt, Australia, Greece, and Paris.

Los Angeles has won over her heart. She is constantly taking advantage of what LA LA Land has to offer - new boutiques and restaurants, finding great deals, discovering new hikes and beaches, music, and West Coast fashion.

Top 10 Places To Get A Fun Workout In LA

Besides the endless hiking opportunities in LA and biking and running on the beach strand, LA offers so many different kinds of workout classes; the options are endless. Just walking on La Brea on one little street, you can find Yoga Works, CrossFit and Cardio Barre all nestled in the same block. Below are some of my longtime favorites mixed in with some new discoveries.

Top 10 Way to Mix-Up Your Muscle Routine in La La Land:

1. Whole Body Method on Pico 

Nigel at Whole Body Method in LA.

Nigel at Whole Body Method in LA. (Photo credit: wholebodymethod.tumblr.com)

The owner, Pilates guru Nigel, is an Aussie who started the Whole Body Method in 1999.  This type of pilates makes me feel like a kid on the playground with all the interesting pilates machines with ropes, pulleys and springs. Not like the cardio Pilates Plus which seems to be popping up all over LA in one way or another, I feel at peace in this studio surrounded by art, natural light and high vaulted ceilings. This is a place you come to get your body centered, learn how to breathe correctly, as well as strengthen and lengthen your body. Nigel told me I had a lot of “stress” or tightness in my mid back. “Go Figure! I have had stress nonstop for 10 months!” I felt like saying. I always forget to breathe when I work out. This relaxed environment started to shed my tightness and make me lighter. Nigel’s wife is responsible for the beautiful zen decor and I learned all sorts of new exercises on different machines. This classical pilates approach is one you may crave.

Deals:  The studio offers community classes each week for $10 and for $25 you can have a private lesson with a pilates instructor in training versus the $75 on up fee. Try pilates-in-training instructor Michelle Kole for $25. The studio also offers a popular extensive pilates training program.

WHERE:
5700 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

2. CrossFit Hollywood on La Brea and CrossFit SolCity on Highland 

Although Cross Fit Hollywood has been around for five years, I feel like CrossFit is the NEW craze.  Very heavily guy driven, I was happy to see some girls in the class. Each CrossFit is independently owned, so if you buy classes at one location, you can’t hop to another if it is near your work. Cross Fit is the ultimate intense adrenalin kickin’ workout and reminds me of my crew days where we were just “beat up” daily. I like competition. I like that they time you and put your score up so everyone else can see it after taking you through a series of hard core activities. When I arrived I saw a class with each student using a long bar to workout like we use to do in crew. Aimee introduced me to my first session which included rowing on the erg, 40 squats, 30 push ups, 40 sit-ups and what I had the hardest time doing – 15 pull-ups! You are timed in class, and you call out your time to be recorded. On one board you see all sorts of lady’s names, which are the names of each workout or specific drill.

Deals: In order to join Cross Fit, you must come in for their free introductory one-on-one session before taking their classes, as well as three one-on-one sessions for $99. Their pricing special for July is $179/month with an 8-month commitment or $199/month with a 4-month commitment. They even have Cross Fit for kids.

CrossFit Hollywood gives back through their holiday toy drive, and the CrossFit Foundation also provides support and assistance to the men and women of the military, law enforcement and first responder communities and their families as well as aims to enhance the quality of life and fitness of deserving families by sponsoring efforts such as Infant Swim Rescue (ISR), providing exercise equipment and other beneficial acts as determined by the Foundation. Other charitable organizations they support include the Wounded Warrior Project, Cancer, and Saint Jude’s Crossfit For Hope combating childhood cancer and other deadly diseases through its inaugural CrossFit for Hope fundraiser, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Contributions can be performance-based pledges or donations for participants and affiliates.

Physique Beverly Hills studio (Photo credit: www.examiner.com)

Physique Beverly Hills studio (Photo credit: examiner.com)

3. Physique Beverly Hills

Founded by Tanya Becker, Physique 57 is a dynamic cardiovascular program of orthopedic stretches and isometric exercises designed to rapidly transform your body. The 57-minute fat-blasting class is designed to rev up your hear-rate while strengthening, lengthening, and toning muscles. Using a bar and a ball as well as laying on a shag carpet (never seen that before in a studio), you will work muscles in places you didn’t know exist. I took the Mixed Class and was obviously the most challenged in the class of girls and older women. A lot of repetitive little moves tighten your body or in some way, frustrate me. I am used to pounding it out at Barry’s Bootcamp with hard core weights and running like a mad gazelle on the treadmill. I like feeling completely zoned out at times, so this workout was definitely hard for me as my mind veers off course and forgets to listen to all the little directions of where every part of my body should be. This class is great for toning and strengthening. I wasn’t intimidated by the women in class, which I assumed being in the 90201 they would all be super model perfect, but I felt rather at home. I loved how clean the gym was, but always like to workout with a view, so the only view your going to get is yourself in the mirror.

WHERE:
Currently in LA, NYC, and coming to Bridgehampton Memorial Day weekend.

320 North Cañon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Hustle and Flow in Venice, CA (Photo credit:  Facebook.com/hustleandflowfitness.com)

4. Hustle and Flow Fitness in Venice

You can take a combined spin and yoga class for an hour, or just spin or just yoga. I love this casual spot that has parking right in front next to a French gourmet shop on Abbott Kinney just down from all the stores and restaurants. One of the best yoga classes I have ever taken was with Cory Martin, a seasoned yogi who had me trying positions I’d never imagined. The spin classes are mind blowing at times, especially when you are pumping so hard to the tunes you feel like you are having an almost out of body experience. The space is super clean and filtered water is available.

I think it is nice that they offer a monthly sober spin class to support anyone in recovery of any kind.  Often on Sunday, this one hour spin ride is free and they state, “We’d like to think of this as a community based dance party on a bike.” A couple months ago Hustle and Flow hosted an ALC charity spin ride one of our writers, Rochelle Robinson, attended.

Hustle and Flow always offers a one week unlimited for $30 to brand new clients and soon they will bring out a new yearly unlimited fee. All packages are good for a year and they vary from an $18 single class, $80 for 5 series, $155 for 10 series, $295 for 20 series, $199 monthly unlimited.

WHERE:
2321 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291

My view from my mat at Runyon Canyon yoga. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

My view from my mat at Runyon Canyon yoga. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

5. Runyon Canyon yoga in Hollywood

This spot is so idyllic for yoga, sometimes I feel like I am in a dream as I gaze up at the palm trees, clear blue skies, and the flowers all around. The sun is beating on me as the breeze knows when to cool me off. I have taken yoga at this spot with butterflies flying around me and gophers popping up all around my yoga mat. Often surrounded by the weird and wacky Hollywood crowd, the classes are always inspiring and offered daily at 8:45, 10:30, 2:00, and 6:00 daily. Often there are about 40 or more people in a class.

You can check the daily schedule by following them on Facebook at Runyon Canyon yoga. Truly an interesting people watching scene, I love yogi Daniel Overberger who is light hearted and always manages to make me laugh with his funny sayings throughout class. “Your spine is your youth.” This week he ended the session by saying, ” You are living your dream. Don’t miss it. Namaste.” Donna is also a gentle soul and very good. Patrizia will walk around and critique everyone’s positions, and is a bit more tough, and once I had a man that felt like cardio bootcamp yoga. But I am humbled by the words and time of these instructors and the fact they offer these classes daily for just a donation. Since the classes are donation based, don’t forget to tip well!

WHERE:
2000 N Fuller Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

6. Core Fusion Barre or Cardio at the Exhale Spa at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica

Mix it up with one of the many classes offered at the studio in the fancy Fairmont Hotel on the water. I took a core fusion barre class that whipped my butt, but demanded knowing many little moves, like keeping the ball between your legs or stuck in your back leg while you squat or using the barre for many rapid ballet-like movements. They offer a variety of classes and also charity classes throughout the year for different local organizations at all 20 Exhales nationwide. To learn more, join their newsletter on their site. They also consistently donate to local charity auctions.

WHERE:
01 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401

7. Equinox in West Hollywood 

For the hefty gym fees at Equinox, you better be working out regularly. I tried a yoga class once that was so jam-packed I practically could feel the breath of the person next to me. Not how I want to workout, but people seem to love it! Each mat carefully jammed up next to another, at least the room is full of eye candy. One class I did love is Rockin Models created by Grace Lazenby. Her full body conditioning class combines burlesque, ballet, and yoga. Her sexy workout will tone you fast. I couldn’t walk the next day, but I like that. It means I really got a workout.

WHERE:
8590 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood CA 90069

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Chris Tye-Walker motivating and guiding the class to solidly perform at an intense level for an hour of cardio and weights in West Hollywood at Barry’s Bootcamp. (Photo credit: twtrland.com)

8. Barry’s Bootcamp in West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks

Barry’s Bootcamp is literally the best workout in the world. For 15-30 minute intervals of intense cardio training on the treadmill and intense weight training, this class will motivate you not only by the people around you, but by the awesome instructors who are coaching you on. I have been doing this workout for at least five years, and always leave drenched and feeling sensory enlivened like a wild animal.  Sometimes you may be running at insane speeds for short spurts or climbing hills or running backwards on the treadmill, while the use of weights and rubber bands in rapid arms, legs, butt, stomach segments always leaves me feeling like a solid machine.

Some of the best instructors I think in LA include Derek DiGrazio (Brittany Spear’s personal trainer) and Chris Tye-Walker, because they are the most motivational and the toughest classes. Read the article HERE that I wrote in 2009 about Barry’s Bootycamp. They often have guest instructors, offer deals and cool workout threads to buy in the check-in area. Seriously, Barry’s Bootcamp is taking over the world. They are now located in Irvine, San Diego, NYC, Hamptons, Nashville, London, and Bergen, Norway, and are coming to Miami Beach and Boston soon. Classes are literally offered almost every hour.

Barry’s Bootcamp LA donates class proceeds to numerous charities and organizations, hosts frequent charity-related events, and encourages instructors and staff to volunteer regularly. Recently, Barry’s in LA has donated to numerous schools and community programs, such as Berkely Hall School, Larchmont Charter, FOWHE- Friends of West Hollywood Elementary, Citizen’s of the World Charter School, The Delaney Wright Fine Arts preschool , Dancing for NED- Cedars Sinai, GLEH- Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, Write Girl, California Dietetic Association -LAD, GLAAD- the lead voice for LGBT, GMCLA- Gay men’s chorus of LA, CMALA, Aids Life Cycle- several teams and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Oklahoma City disaster relief.

WHERE:

1106 N. La Cienega Blvd. Suite 104

West Hollywood, CA 90069

14622 Ventura Blvd

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403-3600

9. Krav Maga with Todd Goldman at the KMW Training Centers in West LA

One of the aims of Krav Maga, and the cornerstone of their training, is to educate and build people mentally, spiritually, and physically so that in a time of need one will be able to defend and attack with maximum speed and efficiency. I learned about this training model when I met Todd Goldman in Sundance. He is one of the highest ranking instructors in the United States and a 2nd Degree Black Belt Worldwide. There are many levels of Krav Maga. Here is an example of a level 1 curriculum:

  • Advancing Straight Punches
  • Front Kicks
  • Combinations: Kicks & Advancing Punches
  • Wrist Releases
  • Arm Pulls

Krav Maga is the official self defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, and has been taught to hundreds of law enforcement agencies and thousands of civilians in the United States. Krav Maga is a simple, effective self defense system that emphasizes instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios. You can find the class schedule HERE.

WHERE:
11400 Olympic Blvd. #100
Los Angeles, CA 90064

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Cycle House in West Hollywood – you face the raised instructor by candlelight and spin with banging tunes followed by a zen outdoor courtyard with chilled towels and fruit. (Photo credit: guiltcity.com)

10. Cycle House in West Hollywood

A bit pricey, but you will adore how you feel when your endorphins kick in to high gear as you spin by candle light with some of the best heart pumping tunes. Reserve a bike, and they give you shoes. The class is always a pleasurable end in the zen courtyard with scented chilled towels and fruit. I love this place! I have heard these classes are harder than Soul Cycle. Often they offer specials or package deals, so you can get classes for around $22.

Cycle House has a partnership with Feeding America. For every rider in class, they donate 2 meals to Feeding America. One week alone they donated 2,336 meals. They also support a plethora of other charities including Challenged Athletes Foundation, The One Fund and ASPCA to name a few. Check out a previous article I wrote about Stacy Keibler’s ride that benefited the American Cancer Society.

WHERE:
624 N. La Cienega Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

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