Los Angeles has always been a breeding ground for new workout concepts, but 2015 was, quite possibly, one of the biggest years for boutique fitness yet. (Need proof? Check out Well+Good’s Healthy City Guide to Los Angeles, which practically doubled in size from last year.)
Of course, in an increasingly crowded landscape, it’s becoming harder to stand out from the pack—especially when so many star players are rapidly expanding city-wide (we’re looking at you, SoulCycle, Barry’s, and The Studio MDR). But these nine new studios and on-the-rise brands managed to do just that, changing perceptions and pushing boundaries while gaining loyalty (and lots of buzz) from the city’s arbiters of sweat.
We’ve compiled a list of the workouts that dominated our brunch conversations and social media feeds in 2015 (in alphabetical order). Don’t stress if you haven’t tried them all yet—that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, right? —Erin Magner
(Photo: Melissa Ryan for Wanderlust Hollywood)
Aerial fitness was made for the Instagram age, and this year it zoomed to the foreground—just look at how many LA ladies (like Sarah Hyland and Jamie Chung) posted snaps of themselves in graceful shapes, suspended from silks. At AIR, the artistic technique translates to a killer workout, with classes incorporating elements of barre, interval training, yoga, and Pilates.
(Photo: AIR Aerial Fitness)
When beloved Bar Method instructor Marnie Alton left to open her own studio, she created a chic, bohemian-style haven that feels like no other barre destination in town. The workout itself, heavily inspired by ballet training, is truly addictive, as are Alton’s seriously cool playlists filled with old-school pop, indie rock, and hip-hop.
(Photo: Barre Belle)
Jennifer Johnson, one of LA’s reigning queens of dance cardio (and a W+G Sweat Series alum), had a major year: She bulked up her weekly class schedule and was a firm fixture in the media, inspiring more and more people to get down as a way to get sweaty. As if that didn’t make for a busy enough schedule, she’s also responsible for the bangin’ bods of a host of Hollywood types (Jessica Alba included).
(Photo: JJ Dancer’s Bangin’ Body Bootcamp)
Since opening last fall, Venice’s creative clan has been flocking to this sunny new studio—a transplant from Montauk, NY—for its languid restorative flows and laid-back vibe. And the Love-fest is about to go global. In May 2016, co-founders Kyle Miller and Sian Gordon will be leading their growing community in a retreat to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland—complete with a beach excursion and surfing, naturally.
(Photo: Love Yoga)
This nationwide boot camp franchise established a firm LA foothold in 2015—it’s now found in Brentwood, Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Woodland Hills, and Thousand Oaks (times two), with another gym coming to the intersection of Melrose and La Brea Avenues in 2016. What is it that’s got the city’s wellness bloggers (Jordan Younger‘s a fan) and other healthy types hooked? Everyone wears heart monitors to ensure you’re rowing, running, and lifting at the optimal level for fat burn (both before and after the workout).
(Photo: Orangetheory Fitness)
Pop Physique (various neighorhoods)
LA’s sexiest barre brand underwent a massive wave of growth this year, with new locations (and a brand new HQ) in Downtown LA, Venice, Larchmont Village, Pasadena, and—drumroll!—NYC. (It’s been a long time coming; New Yorkers have been begging for a Pop of their own since the first LA location opened in 2008.) The ride’s not stopping for 2016: Expect more expansion outside of SoCal, plus facelifts for some of the OG LA locations.
(Photo: Pop Physique)
An ass-kicking workout in just 30 minutes? Jason Walsh (trainer to Jessica Biel and Ashley Tisdale) made it happen with Rise Nation, which is doing for the VersaClimber what SoulCycle did for the stationary bike. Dazzling lighting, danceable tunes, and several different types of classes (from interval training to a yoga/climbing hybrid) make for an addictive experience that’ll leave you dripping in sweat and fully spent.
(Photo: Rise Nation)
What started as a macho training ground for pro athletes—and those who play them in the movies—has evolved into the workout destination of choice for Victoria’s Secret models, fashion stylists, and other it-girl types (including A-list bloggers Hannah Bronfman and Jacey Duprie). Although a May 2015 New York Times New York Times article referred to Unbreakable as “the Soho House of gyms” for its long private training waiting lists and high-tech workout equipment, it’s not off-limits to us non-celebs—group boot camps are open to the public for $35 a pop.
(Photo: Unbreakable Performance Center)
The Wanderlust brand of yoga festivals set up permanent camp in LA this summer, and it’s since become a sort of mindful country club for the wellness set. In addition to a packed daily calendar of yoga and meditation classes, it also hosts near-nightly social events and workshops, from spiritual lectures to cooking classes and craft-making. And did we mention the to-die-for vanilla coriander latte at the amazing in-house cafe spearheaded by Seamus Mullen?!
(Photo: Wanderlust Hollywood)
What will be getting Angelenos sweaty come 2016? This boutique fitness incubator is grooming the Next Big Class. What workouts were all kinds of buzzy last year in LA? We’ll tell you here…