Yogis and gym-bunnies: welcome to your spiritual and physical home. Southern California’s exercise craze kicked off in Santa Monica in the early 20th century. For proof, visit the original Muscle Beach (south of the Santa Monica Pier), which started back in the 1930s. A lean, keen group of acrobats, gymnasts and other talented athletes gathered here regularly to work out by the beachfront, leading to the official moniker, Muscle Beach, in 1933. (Seventeen years later, nearby Venice Beach followed suit with its own version; stroll over to compare the two.
Santa Monica continues to be a trailblazer when it comes to fitness and wellness. Stand-up paddleboarding was invented here, as was roga: a pulse-racing combination of running and yoga, which you can try for yourself on the pier. Join the locals perfecting their downward-dog on the sand, have a yoga session at peaceful Palisades Park (followed by a smoothie at Wildflower Café), or banish jet-lag with a class at BoxUnion: a beats-driven boxing studio that will make your heart race.
For an ‘only-in-LA’ fitness experience, sign up for a trapeze lesson on Santa Monica Pier with Trapeze School New York, go surfing with friendly instructors at Aqua Surf or try aqua-yoga on surf boards. Prefer spectator sports? You’re in the right place. Just relax on the sand or in your favourite beachfront café – matcha or turmeric latte in hand – and watch admiringly while others work up a sweat. You could also detoxify without moving a muscle at Shape House day spa, an urban sweat lodge.
WELLNESS DINING AND FITNESS TRENDS
Health and wellness shape Santa Monica’s menus, too. The craze for beauty-boosting smoothies and juices took root here; try the Cream Party (coconut water and coconut cream) from Juice Served Here, which is a hit with the locals. If you’ve had one too many cocktails at ONYX Rooftop Bar the night before, combat the consequences with the powerful Hangover Cure (featuring pineapple, ginger, cayenne, black pepper and herbal extracts) from the Hive, another favourite at 606 Broadway.
Enjoy doctor-approved dishes at True Food Kitchen in Downtown, which champions farm-to-table fare, or have a very-LA breakfast – including a Beautify syringe with a health shot – at Kreation Juice on Montana Avenue. For the ultimate indulgence, book some spoiling spa treatments at the serene Alchemie Spa and relax back, Santa Monica-style. If your stamina for exercise classes and health kicks hasn’t been exhausted, head into Downtown LA on the Metro Expo Line , for more park life, fitness classes and gyms, and healthy-living cafés, shops and restaurants…