This is Southern California, land of moon juice and spirit dust, of crystals and goat yoga. While a skeptical East Coaster (hi, dad!) might call our dedication to health and wellness "self-indulgent," there isn't much that's more foundational to being human than keeping the mind and body in good working order. Life is short everywhere, but out here, summer is long. You might as well look and feel your best.
In Downtown Santa Monica's 40 square blocks, there are over 30 fitness options. We have a range of gyms and studios, including spin, yoga, barre, pilates, and interval training. And I tried them all (YES, I'M TIRED), so that I could give you the low down on where to go for everything and anything fitness related.
(Boxing class at Burn Fitness, one of the many free offerings for members of this friendly gym on the Third Street Promenade.)
This massive facility on Sixth Street houses exercise equipment, pools, a spin studio, nursery and day care, basketball courts, racquetball courts, and even a climbing wall. There is something for all ages and preferences here, and as a nonprofit, the YMCA does not turn anyone away. If you are unable to pay full membership, they offer financial assistance.
1332 Sixth Street
Burn Fitness is a friendly gym located right on the world-famous Third Street Promenade, and includes a rooftop area ideal for catching sunsets while you sweat. Here's a hint for Classpassers: they have challenging, fun classes that you can book through Classpass even if you are not a gym member (including spin) for just a few credits – sometimes even for free.
1233 Third Street Promenade
This glassy Equinox with multiple levels and open staircases feels a bit like a tree house. The facilities are beautiful, they offer a range of classes, and your post workout shower will feel luxurious.
201 Santa Monica Boulevard
24 Hour Fitness
This 24 Hour Fitness is pretty bare bones – but at around $40 per month for membership, it's a rare affordable option on the Westside.
1417 Second Street
SoulCycle popularized the modern spin class with the weights and choreography. The rest are arguably copy cats, but we should encourage healthy competition in fitness, right? As always, SoulCycle studios have high-end bikes, dark, slightly heated rooms, loud music, and nice facilities.
120 Wilshire Boulevard
This is Burn Fitness' spin studio. Their rooftop space provides fresh-air breezes, which I appreciate. (Something I've long suspected: if you're doing pure cardio in a hot room, you're not working out harder, you're just sweating more – though you might leave the workout feeling proud of your soaked clothes, you may have actually exercised less because you were too hot to push it to the max. Side note, toxins are cleared through your system via your liver and kidneys, not your sweat glands. Science, guys.)
1233 Third Street Promenade (rooftop)
This spin spot has a competition board that they occasionally flash on the screen so you can see how you're fairing against your fellow spinners. Though I don't think of myself as the competitive type, seeing my name up there definitely got me pushing harder. Don't worry – you choose whether or not you want your name displayed, so if you're not into that, you can opt out. But lean in, guys and gals. Give yourself an alias and get involved.
1221 Second Street, Suite 100
Like Cyclebar, Flywheel has the ever-motivating leaderboard (or "TorqBoard" in Flywheel speak) to see how you measure up.
(Working The Reformer at Speir Pilates.)
Platinum classes are challenging – in fact, of all the classes in Downtown Santa Monica, in my humble opinion, this one could be the most serious body changer. Be prepared: the big glass windows are lovely, but the occasional tourist will stop and take a peep while you may or may not be looking completely uncoordinated on the reformer machine.
1255 Second Street
Find this hidden gem through a lovely little courtyard and up a set of stairs. Sandpiper does one-on-one and small class (three people max) pilates, so that they can provide you personalization and attention.
522 Wilshire Blvd., Suite D
Speir is a big, upscale pilates studio. The "Cardio Reformer" class involves jumping (horizontally), on the "jump board," which feels kind of like a very, very tiny roller coaster ride. Fun!
1427 Seventh Street, #102
(Balancing chakras at Kundalini Yoga.)
CorePower has two rooms: one for yoga and one for yoga and weights, both in heated rooms. The yoga with weights class ("Yoga Sculpt") is a challenging, fun take on the traditional practice – definitely a solid work out.
1540 Second Street, Suite 109
Naam is a nonprofit that emphasizes the communal and spiritual aspects of yoga. After class, help yourself to delicious tea in the lounge behind the studio.
1231 Fourth Street
Sweat, per the name, does hot yoga with a sexy, Burning Man vibe. The room is dark and the music is on point. The instructors take you through a set of poses and then you try out the sequence on your own, without prompts. This sounds a bit scary, but when's the last time, in the ever-narrowing experience of your adulthood, that you challenged your brain/body like that?
702 Arizona Avenue
Hot8 Yoga is a friendly, large yoga facility with an array of hot yoga options. Their "26 & 2" class, which follows the traditional Bikram Yoga sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, is a great class.
1422 Second Street
Santa Monica Power Yoga & Meditation
A donation-based yoga studio. When I tried it out, yogi John Harding led us through a lovely, relaxing practice.
1410 Second Street
Power Yoga East
Another donation-based option, this place feels like it's been there forever. The studio is simple and somewhat heated, with natural light and a community vibe.
522 Santa Monica Boulevard
Be Crystal Clear
This stunning new studio has a unique set of classes (e.g. sound baths, dance, yoga for kids). If you've been stressing your mind and/or body lately (if, for example, you volunteered to try out every fitness option in Downtown Santa Monica in about a month), I recommend popping out of the office for their 40-minute midday stretch class.
Bhakti Yoga Shala
Bhakti Yoga Shala emphasizes spirituality and community. Classes are donation based and some have live music or sound baths.
207 Arizona Avenue
Kundalini by the Sea
This cozy, relaxing studio teaches Kundalini yoga, a practice that focuses on breath work, chanting, and meditation to achieve spiritual and life goals.
605 Colorado Avenue
(Channeling your inner ballerina at Pure Barre.)
Tucked away inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Exhale has barre and yoga options (it's on Classpass!). I appreciate their 30-minute lunchtime class that you can squeeze in during a busy work day, and the fact that you get to shower in the beautiful spa afterwards.
101 Wilshire Boulevard
This popular barre studio focuses on tough, tiny movements ("tuck!") to sculpt your muscles.
201 Wilshire Boulevard
(Hitting the row machines at Orangetheory.)
In a large space that has a vaulted ceiling and lovely wood beams, the Aussies guide you through your workout with their high-energy, good-looking selves. You move from one station to the next and complete a variety of exercises (e.g. weight lifting, TRX, cardio), so you never get bored.
1454 Lincoln Boulevard
When I pay for an exercise class I'm looking for it to push me harder than I can push myself. If it doesn't, then I should just train myself because I'm free. Orangetheory – primarily due to the fact that they sandwich their floor/weight exercises with killer treadmill sequences – certainly does that.
1431 Second Street
Double Ops is an interval training studio with a nice "locals" vibe.
1317 Seventh Street, Suite B
Like Orangetheory, at BaseCamp you alternate between various exercises out on the floor and cardio, but at BaseCamp, the cardio is done on those arms-plus-legs bicycles. For some reason, I can't take myself completely seriously on those things, but they are a great option if you're looking for lower-impact cardio.
1315 Lincoln Boulevard
Fitness Together has been in the community for a number of years. They serve a range of clientele, but tend to skew older, helping the 40 to 80-year-old crowd get in shape with tailored fitness and nutrition plans and keeping them on track with the most valuable element of personal training: accountability.
1450 Fifth Street, #120
Show up Fitness
Show up Fitness is newer to Downtown Santa Monica and the clientele trends a bit younger than Fitness Together. Their prices vary based on how much training you commit to, and they'll offer a discount if you can train during off-peak hours.
1207 Fourth Street
Box n' Burn
This place is utter mayhem and so fun. The gym is packed and buzzing with energy. I'm a total boxing novice, but I had a blast doing pad work with one of the many coaches in the ring, switching to a floor workout, over to the punching bags, and back into the ring.
1654 Lincoln Boulevard
International Shotokan Karate Federation Santa Monica
Martial arts training gym (ok, so there are a few places I did not personally try).
1218 Fifth Street
MC Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym.
320 Wilshire Blvd, Suite B1
Teaching primarily salsa and bachata, this lovely dance studio has a near-perfect rating on Yelp.
1547 Sixth Street, Suite 100
Coreology, which is expanding up the California coast, will offer pilates reformer classes, spinning, and resistance training.
702 Arizona Avenue
This Singaporean fitness concept touting efficient, 30-minute classes is opening its first U.S. location on our doorstep.
315 Wilshire Boulevard
Popular and affordable yoga studio.
1221 Second Street, #150
Dash Run Studio
This appears to be like a cycling studio, but with treadmills.
720 Wilshire, #100