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.