FITNESS EXPERIMENTER: REVIEWS BY PERSU
A menu of fitness studios and gyms (mostly on the Westside) tested by PERSU
* = would not return ** = good class/ decent facility (gym) *** = excellent class/superb facility (gym)
$ = great deal $$ = average $$$ = pricey | CP = Taken through ClassPass | G = Groupon
- **Cardio Barre ($$) - LOCATION CLOSED - Located on S. Robertson Blvd., the Beverly Hills studio includes free baby-sitting during the class. Taught by fit instructors, the classes are fast-paced, repetitive ballet-style movements on the bar that target your legs, butt, and core. Come early to grab a spot because the room fills up fast! (And check Groupon because they always have deals!). P = street & meter parking only
- *Aisha Ali, Classes ($$) - Aisha teaches out of her in-home studio and although she is a legendary bellydancer, I felt her class was less instructional and more of an improv follow-along. P = residential street parking
- ***Pacific Arts Center ($$/G) - This studio offers bellydance classes from three different teachers, each with a unique style. Check Groupon for occassional class package deals! P = tiny lot in the back and street/meter parking
Olga: learn Olga's fun choreography as she mixes in different elements of dance and keeps the energy up with her fun personality!
Masa: go to Masa's Monday evening class to learn exciting drum choreography as she teaches along to the beat of live drums instead of a soundtrack
Tamra-Henna: learn detailed techniques of Egyptian Classical as Tamra-Henna goes over drills to isolate core muscles
- ***ABA Boxing Academy ($$) - ABA's signature boxing class is the best workout class I've ever taken. Leyon Azubuike and his trainers have perfected the ability to push students past their limits and kick their ass while remaining the friendliest and most lovable trainers to work with. The classes filter students through 3-4 stations (conditioning/floor, heavy bags, mitts) and the creative mitt-work is incredibly fun. You'll leave the class feeling good, motivated, and drenched in sweat. NOTE: This gym is now Iron Boxing and Leyon's newest gym (Gloveworx) details are below!
- ***David Barton Gym ($$) - Taught by Floyd on Thursdays and Saturdays at the Century City location, this boxing class is cardio heavy with heavy bag drills, sprints, and stairs. While there are heavy bags in the room, boxing gloves and hand wraps are not provided so make sure to BYOP (bring your own pair). More details via blog post here. Must be a gym member to attend the class. P = free parking in the structure.
- ***Gloveworx ($$$) - This stunning boxing facility is Stephanie's long-time favorite trainer and friend, Leyon Azubuike's newest boxing facility! Leyon closed down his ABA program to start-up the beautiful, new Gloveworx boxing gym in Santa Monica, CA in May of 2015. Gloveworx includes the same coveted signature style class from his previous ABA boxing program (above) in addition to new "Boom" and "Lightening" sessions with all of their skilled trainers."Boom" sessions are limited to 5 or less students per class for extra personalized attention while "Lightening" sessions are fast and hard 30-minute workouts. Leyon's new facility includes a full-size ring, nice new turf for conditioning stations, bike machines, row machines, (the dreaded) versaclimbers, heavy bags, speed bags, and several shiny new squat rack/weight machines. There are also a handful of hotel/spa-like individual showers in the back, making it easy to shower up after a sweaty session. Highly recommend Gloveworx to anyone interested in getting a hardcore workout or interested in some one-on-one mitt training with some of the best trainers in LA. This high-end style boxing studio also offers personal training sessions tailored to all your fitness goals (even outside of boxing). P = street & meter parking
- **Krav Maga LA ($$) - The weekly evening boxing classes taught by Mike are great for learning technique and form. Mike has a detailed eye and is a great teacher and he was able to correct my form is just a handful of classes. Check Groupon before signing up for a deal! P = street & meter parking
- ***SpeedX ($$$/CP) - Fitness studio includes all the equipment you need for circuit training including row machines, barbells, weights, kettlebells, TRX. Each trainer has a different style but generally you start with a warm-up and then get split up into groups to complete the interval, high-intensity workouts by station. Example of a class written here. Classes are available via ClassPass or you can choose from a variety of unlimited monthly memberships or class packages. P = 90 minutes for $1.50 with validation in the same building. Street parking is also available nearby.
- ***Kinetic Cycling ($$) - LOCATION CLOSED - If it's Rene Wiley's class, you will leave soaked in sweat. With a killer soundtrack and matching videos to watch on the studio's flat screen TV, Rene will bring the resistance all the way up, and push your legs to the limit. Check Groupon to snag a class package deal! Classes also available via ClassPass. P = validated parking in the same shopping mall. More details via blog post here. NOTE: Rene Wiley now teaches his kick-ass cycling classes at Cyclepathic and various Equinox gyms on the westside.
- ***SoulCycle ($$$) - Fast paced, candlelit cycling classes to the beat of DJ mixes makes these high-impact rides fun, energetic, but also expensive ($30/class excluding shoes). Multiple locations.
- **Allure ($$/CP) - LOCATION CLOSED - Located on mid-Wilshire, this dance studio is quite small and basic but the Twerkout class with Taisha is SO much fun! Learn the booty clap, booty pop, salt shaker and more as Taisha breaks it down with her funny sense of humor. P = street and metered parking NOTE: This studio has closed down and Taisha Monique now teaches out of Evolve studio (below)
- ***Evolve Dance Studio ($$/CP) - Located on mid-Wilshire, this studio includes a large downstairs dance room as well as the upstairs pole studio with two rooms of poles. Evolve offers tons of fun sexy dance classes including floorwork, twerk, chair, dancehall, bellydance, and Taisha Monique's signature hip hop style choreography. All of the dance classes are fun but some of my favorites include: Miles Woods' "filthy floorwork," Taisha Monique's "slow and sexy choreo," and "booty twerk," Jame Elis' "chair dance," and Shawna Pops' "twerkland" classes. All classes are available on ClassPass, or sign-up for their monthly unlimited membership (that's what I did!) or class packages. For pole class descriptions, see POLE section. P = street and metered parking
- **The Edge ($$) - A dance studio more than a workout studio, The Edge is great for people with previous experience and a dance background (which I do not have! lol). So, my experience was that I had a tough time keeping up in some of the classes, but if you are an experienced dancer, this is a GREAT place to take some classes!
- ***LA Dancefit ($$/CP) - A studio that turns dancing into fast-paced, cardio workouts and is always packed (come early for a good spot!). From zumba and hip hop to burlesque and flashback funk, LA Dancefit has a wide range of classes. Classes are available on ClassPass! P = tiny lot in the back and meter & residential street parking nearby
- **220 Fitness ($$$) - Decent facility, a bit pricey for this single location gym on Main Street in Santa Monica. P = validated lot on 204 2nd St. at the St. Joseph Center
- **Burn Fitness ($$) - Located on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica (above the Adidas store), Burn Fitness also has decent facilities, a small rooftop track, and a balcony with bikes and a view of the promenade. P = public parking structures, 90 minutes free (no validation)
- Crunch Gym, Sunset ($$/CP) - Great classes including x-pole, cycling, and yoga. Pretty large gym with lots of cardio machines downstairs and a good variety of strength equipment upstairs including boxing heavy bags and my favorite: the Jacob's Ladder machine. :) Classes and gym time are available via ClassPass, or sign-up for their monthly membership! P = validated 2 hours free parking in the building (shared with Trader Joes)
- ***David Barton Gym ($$$) - Ambiance of David Barton gyms remind me of trendy Hollywood restaurants with its modern artwork and dim lighting. P = free parking in structures at both locations. Century City - The smaller location has three floors with a cycling studio, a yoga studio, and group class room with hanging heavy bags. The gym is clean, bathrooms are nice, and parking is free in the structure behind it. West LA - The larger location of the Westside, this gym includes a full-size ring and pilates reformers (available at an extra charge).
- ***Equinox ($$$) - Clean, nice facilities with multiple locations throughout Los Angeles. The membership rates are extremely pricey ($165-$200+/month) but is totally worth it if you take their exercise classes (and they have a lot!). P = varies by location (valet at some)
- ***Gold's Gym ($) - I've personally only tried the Hollywood location but I find that Gold's has a good range of equipment, clean facilities, solid classes, and is a great deal for the price you pay. P = varies by location (Hollywood is a free lot)
- **Iron Gym ($$$) - Small boutique gym that benefits from the open ceiling to floor wall that faces the back parking lot and brings in fresh air. However, the membership prices are a little steep for this facility. NOTE: This gym has expanded to multiple locations in LA (check their site for details) and they have an Iron Boxing program (circuit style: mittwork, heavy bags, conditioning) with classes available on ClassPass. P = lot in the back and meter & street parking for the Broadway location (other locations may vary)
- ***Platinum Pilates ($$$) - Studio has about ten newer pilates reformer machines and you must book in advance to reserve a spot. Must bring or purchase grip socks to wear for the class (~$14). P = varies by location
- ***Pilates Plus West LA ($$$/CP) - Studio also has about ten newer pilates reformer machines and requires an advance reservation for a spot in the class. Make sure you have grip socks to keep you from sliding on the platform. Classes available via ClassPass. P = street parking only (they no longer validate in the structure)
- *Sumbody Studio ($$/G) - Studio has the traditional pilates reformer machines. My experience in this class was that the workout was not as challenging as other reformer classes I've taken so I wasn't a huge fan. However, Sumbody Studio is usually listed on Groupon so you can get a pretty cheap deal if you want to try it out! P = lot next to the studio
- ***Evolve Dance Studio ($$/CP) - Located on mid-Wilshire, this studio includes a large downstairs dance room as well as the upstairs pole studio with two rooms of poles. Advanced polers tend to use the room with the taller poles while less advanced practice on the shorter poles. In addition to tons of fun sexy dance classes, Evolve has lots of pole classes to choose from. Pole classes range from intro to advanced, spin and static, as well as sexy and fun pole flow choreography. For some of the best pole flow choreo, try AnnaKia's "erotic city pole flow" or Jame Elis' "magic city pole + twerk" classes. For learning pole tricks, all the instructors are great! I personally learn really quickly from Miles Woods' Tuesday night spin pole classes! All classes at Evolve are available via ClassPass, or you can sign-up for their unlimited monthly contract to take all their classes all the time! (That's what I did). For dance class descriptions, see DANCE section. P = street and metered parking
- *Goddess Fitness Dance ($/G) - This dance studio has a variety of pole classes (burlesque, sexy stiletto, twerking) but I found the class to be on the corny side and less detailed on instruction. Came across this studio via Groupon so be sure to check it for deals before signing up! P = varies by location (Studio City has a free lot next to the studio)
- ***Jagged Vertical Dance ($$$/CP) - Located on Santa Monica Blvd in West LA, this small studio started by fellow UCLA graduate Jessica Anderson-Gwin, Jagged offers excellent pole/aerial technique! With classes ranging from pole, lyra, aerial silks and even the special cyr wheel, this is a great place to learn clean pole tricks. All classes are available via ClassPass or you can choose to purchase from a variety of class packages. Unlimited monthly memberships aren't shown as available on their website. P = street and metered parking
- ***Pacific Arts Center ($$/G) - Learning pole dance is a class where the teacher is everything and Emily is one of the best teachers I've ever come across. As a skilled trickster herself, she breaks down complicated pole tricks and knows just how to talk you through maneuvers while always being ready to catch you if you fall (pole mats can also be used). An instructor that goes above and beyond for her students (providing hand grips, inviting students to shows, throwing going-away parties), Emily is loved by everyone. The class is small with poles manually set-up by the instructor. P = tiny lot behind the studio and street/meter parking. NOTE: This studio no longer holds pole dance classes as Emily has moved out of state. :(
- ***The Secret Pole Dance Studio - Culver City ($$/G) - Solely a pole dance studio, this facility has fixed poles in the space and a full schedule of classes so you can choose your specialty of interest. Make sure to bring your own hand grips and any other accessories you might need (knee pads, legwarmers). I came across this studio initially via Groupon so be sure to check it for deals before signing up! P = free lot next to the studio
YOGA | HOT
- ***Hot 8 Yoga ($$$) - Special flooring and climate control keeps these newer facilities clean and germ-free and great for hot yoga. Hot 8 has two locations (Santa Monica and Beverly Hills) and a slate of hot yoga classes from yoga scupt to yoga barre (tough workout!). P = varies by location (Beverly Hills is validated structure parking)
- **Core Power Yoga - Wilshire ($$$) - A chain of studios, this hot yoga powerhouse has multiple locations nationwide. The classes are solid with decent facilities however, the Wilshire location tends to get so crowded that you are mat-to-mat with students making it difficult to do your poses. P = varies by location (Wilshire is limited parking in the shopping center or street parking)