As a Marine, Mu’ammar Salamae found the strength to hike 25 miles at high elevations weighed down with 80 pounds of gear and swim for six hours from shoreline to island and back with only a 5-minute break in the middle. He wanted everyone to have similar adventures and feel the same sense of accomplishment, so he started Urban LA Boot Camp to share the training techniques that transformed him.
Mu’ammar’s all-outdoor group exercise program runs the gamut from ballet-barre exercise to muay thai kickboxing. On the weekends, he leads endurance runs and hikes, in which participants learn what it’s like to carry heavy gear or an injured sasquatch long distances. He and his instructors also provide one-on-one personal-training sessions and self-defense-focused courses.
Allen and Richard Wattenberg took over the reins at Ross Cutlery in 1964. By that time, the shop was already 34 years old and predominantly dealt with knife-sharpening services. While the brothers and their staff have continued the shop's legacy of fixing up dull knife blades and haircutting tools, they've steadily populated their shelves with professional-grade haircutting tools, sporting knives, collectible swords, and kitchen-cutlery sets from Henckels, Trident, and Forschner. Their 2,300-square-foot shop rests on the ground floor of the Bradbury Building, which is an architectural landmark and the proud father of a rambunctious little parking garage.
The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, which the Huffington Post calls “the gold standard of the avant garde in LA,” introduces members to emerging local and international artists with gallery exhibitions and innovative performances in art, music, dance, film, and multimedia. In time for the debut of the 2012 schedule, individual members enjoy a 20% discount on up to two tickets to each of REDCAT’s theatrical productions, which include Lars Jan’s genre-defying Abacus, with high-tech effects and compelling performances that explore media’s persuasive power. With 24 hours’ notice, members can trade in tickets for another date, increasing their chances of catching chats with filmmakers such as William E. Jones, comedy sets by jokesters such as Sandra Bernhard, or recollections of '70s New York by former Yankees shortstop Lou Reed.
If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.
To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.
Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.