The Santa Monica Stairs
“The Stairs” as they’re known by workout warriors, are twin sets of steps located in a quaint Santa Monica neighborhood. The concrete staircase is a bit narrow, winding back and forth, while the wider wooden steps, shoot straight up. There’s celeb sightings among the tanned and toned, but don't stop and stare or you will get run over by a hardcore stepper checking their fitness tracker. The peak times are late afternoons during the week and early mornings on the weekend ,so plan accordingly. Parking can be even more challenging than the cardio-hearty workout so avoid the residential-only streets and look for a meter on San Vicente.
Nobody walks in L.A… at least on this car-free day that promotes non-motorized transit. The progressive bike movement was co-opted from Colombia’s Ciclovia and was an immediate hit with Angelenos who spend more time in their cars than they do with their families. Now, it’s expanded to a quarterly event, with routes stretching from Downtown, the Valley and the Westside. Families, friends and everyone under-the-sun roll out on everything you can imagine on wheels, seeing parts of the city from a new perspective. It's good day for the environment, your health and no spandex required. Ride on!
Solstice Canyon Hike
Hiking in L.A., isn’t really hiking like you probably know it, but L.A.’s trails always offer an excellent workout and killer views. The 'Bu isn't all beaches, mansions, and Mel Gibson's anti-semitism, as evidenced by this popular hiking trail. It isn’t exactly Machu Picchu, but it also isn’t a stroll in the park. Follow the posted signs and prepare to get a little dirty as you maneuver your way up dusty paths, step through dry brush and cross flowing creeks. The burnt down houses along the way are random and Snapchat-worthy as are the pretty waterfalls. The six mile hike will take you around 3-5 hours so plan accordingly (wear hiking boots and a hat, slap on the sunscreen, bring water and light snacks) and the LA accessory of choice, a dog.
YOGAqua may sound like an SNL-skit, or maybe the ultimate “Only in LA” cliche, but before you roll your eyes, know that it’s kind of genius. It combines two great outdoor workouts (yoga + paddleboarding) into one 90-minute class. Set in the tranquil waters of Marina Del Rey, a seasoned water Yogi paddles out with a small class out into the ocean blue water, teaching them first how to maneuver and control the paddleboard before moving onto the various stretches to open your nadir and chakra. If your doggie paddle is worse than your downward doggie, no worries, the water is only waist-high.
Griffith Observatory Hike
Hungover hikers, aspiring models, and out-of-work actors wept when the Hollywood douchebag hike of choice, Runyon Canyon, was closed for repairs. All good for us though, we prefer Griffith Park’s superior views and smaller crowds to the must-be-seen-scene at Runyon. Plus the risk of falling off a cliff is dramatically lessened when you don’t have to worry about seeing the Hadid sisters bouncing past you in yoga pants (maybe worth the fall though?). There are multiple routes to climb, but the hike starts off slow and low in Griffith Park before taking you on a challenging march up and over the dirt hill until you reach the Griffith Observatory at the top. It’s a steep, nice climb that will fire up your legs in the right way. The 360-degree view overlooking LA is icing, plus you can flex your muscles at all those fat-ankled softies who drove to get here. Alternative neighboring routes up to the peak holding the legendary Hollywood sign are probably worth the sweat to capture that all-important ‘Gram too.
Word at the local, free-trade coffee shop is that this oddly-placed, recently drained reservoir is about to take on a new life as a beach, lake or park. The constant construction has left a crater-sized pit in the middle, but the recent upgrades: Silverlake Meadow (a three-acre park modeled after Sheep Meadow in Central Park) and the re-paved jogging paths weaving around the suburban neighborhood continue to draw the likes of stroller moms, dog walkers and rock ’n’ roll bassists (Flea and Tony Kanal of No Doubt are regulars). If making tracks isn’t your thing, there’s the best off-leash dog park on the Eastside, a basketball court and a playground filled with Jaxon’s, Juniper’s and Mister Moms.
Muscle Beach in Venice
Sorry, no “girlie men” allowed at this landmark outdoor gym along the Venice Boardwalk. Among those who have thrown their weights around here are Arnold, Lou Ferrigno and Hulk Hogan. Crowds of pink-skinned tourists gather behind the blue-fenced “pit,” watching body builders of all ages and sizes pump iron and pop veins. If you’ve got the guts (or want to get rid of one), there are daily ($10), weekly ($50) and season passes ($170) available. For the kids, there’s also gymnastic rings, balance beams and rope climbing.