Behind the large garage door and inside a building that looks as if it formerly held an auto repair shop (which it likely did), the hardcore workout addicts of West Los Angeles’ Golden State CrossFit put themselves through a battery of exercises in pursuit of better health and fitness. The stripped-down gym space substitutes barbells for Nautilus machines and medicine balls for treadmills; any running you’ll be doing at Golden State takes place through the neighborhood. The focus here is on Olympic-style weightlifting and bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups, rather than complex movements and loads of equipment. Hour-long group workouts are designed to both build muscle and increase endurance, all while being motivated by fellow gym rats and trainers who both instruct and motivate.
By combining CrossFit workouts and self-defense programs under the same roof, A4 Fitness hopes to provide a broad range of opportunities for clients seeking to bolster their overall wellbeing or master a new set of skills. Each CrossFit session combines elements of weight lifting, gymnastics, and high-intensity interval training. The ever-changing nature of the workouts challenges attendees to push their limits and improve their endurance, strength, and balance over time. Martial arts lessons, meanwhile, draw from an eclectic array of styles; visitors can learn to perform the knee and elbow strikes of muay thai, the nimble footwork of traditional boxing, or the practical self-defense techniques of anything from jiu jitsu to tae kwon do.
Above all else, the gym's staff members emphasize safety. To that end, they keep class sizes small—roughly one instructor for every six students—which ensures that they can continually monitor everyone's technique while providing corrections, suggestions, and celebratory bear hugs when needed.
Alliance Training Center's classes make students stronger in more ways than one. Instructors not only help clients reach peak fitness through CrossFit, but also arm students with the world-renowned self-defense techniques of Krav Maga. Both these activities qualify as "functional." For instance, CrossFit athletes focus on becoming experts at the kinds of movements that come naturally, as opposed to putting stress on their bodies with forced motions. For its part, Krav Maga teaches combat techniques that deal with real-world scenarios, including handling assailants who have knives or guns.
The trainers offer a few other equally practical programs to spice up the week so students don't have to turn to baffling Danish game shows for stimulation. Kettlebell courses provide a nice alternative to CrossFit's Olympic-style weight lifting. And Brazilian jiu-jitsu builds on Krav Maga's repertoire of strikes with potent grapples capable of taking larger opponents to the ground or locking up their limbs.
Joy DiPalma struggled with weight problems in her youth, but overcoming them, launched her 12-year career of personal training, competitive sports, and psychological study. By successfully changing her own life, she gained an intimate understanding of what it takes to break one's barriers and lead a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically, and she decided she wanted to help others change their own lives. So she founded Core Conditioning CrossFit, blending her knowledge of motivational science and nutrition with the intense exercise of CrossFit and the beauty of the outdoors.
Joy draws on many schools of exercise to construct her workouts, integrating cardiovascular training with strength building and flexibility drills with stability coaching. Workouts and postworkout naps are held in Pan Pacific Park, where the early morning sun offers warmth, light, and the promise of a new day.
If this were the 1970s, Wilfit Sports Club's exercise machines would seem like something out of a Kubrickian sci-fi film, where every character always had rock hard abs. Sprinkled across a 22,000-square-foot facility, their treadmills and spinning machines come equipped with 19" touch-screens on which members customize their workouts. The screen entertains too, allowing users to surf the Web or pull up their favorite TV channels. But that's not to say there isn't ample human interaction and guidance at Wilfit. The trainers work with clients during one-on-one sessions to tackle fitness goals and develop structured nutritional plans. They also lead group exercise classes, including yoga, Pilates, and K-pop dance: a high-energy workout where participants groove to Korean pop music. The gym also provides clothing to members that they can borrow for their workouts.
Cross Training 360’s more than 15 fitness classes build long, lean muscles instead of bulky mass while burning up to 1,200 calories per session. Each one-hour class, such as Piloxing—a mix of Pilates and boxing—features cross training for well-rounded conditioning while reducing boredom as well as injury risk. Besides classes such as TRX Glide and hip-hop dance, Cross Training 360 offers a 90-day weight-loss-oriented boot camp.