As endorphin highs continue to replace, er, other kinds of highs on the after-work scene, a new genre of run club is emerging in Los Angeles: one that’s just as much about socializing and cultural enlightenment as it is about pavement-pounding.
Along with the usual hills and sprints, these meet-ups incorporate everything from street art tours to happy hours and selfie classes. Their mission: to give 20- and 30-somethings an outlet for hanging with their friends—and meeting new ones—while having a cool, sharable experience (and sweating a little while they’re at it).
“LA’s such a big city, and it felt like people were in these little bubbles of their neighborhoods and cars,” explains Erik Valiente, who founded one such runners’ network, BlacklistLA, two years ago. “I felt like people weren’t taking the time to slow down, appreciate their surroundings, and actually enjoy life…the goal was to create a community here.”
New running buddies, race training, and the rare opportunity to see the city on foot—all, in many cases, free of charge? There’s no wonder these sweaty societies are attracting hundreds of sneaker-wearing types, with the numbers growing on a weekly basis.
Keep reading to learn about three of LA’s buzziest, on-the-run social clubs (all while reveling in the fact that wicking workout pants continue to be suitable going-out attire).
Who it’s for: Culture vultures and night owls
Every Monday at 10 p.m., a 300-strong crew (nope, not a typo) of Angelenos meets up for BlacklistLA’s free weekly art runs, which take members on three-mile expeditions to some of the newest and most noteworthy pieces of street art in the city.
As Valiente explains it, the group’s super-friendly vibe is responsible for its massive membership. “If it’s somebody’s first time, we make a point to meet them and find out a little bit of their story,” he says. “Then they end up posting about it on social media or bringing some friends the next time.”
Each month, Valiente picks a new neighborhood to cover based on where artists are unveiling new work (for April, it’s Downtown). In addition to the all-levels Monday art runs, BlacklistLA also hosts gatherings for more serious athletes—including a Saturday morning race training run and a six-mile run on Wednesdays, in which the group rides the LA Metro to a designated location and then runs back to the original station.
And there’ll soon be more where that came from. “This year, we’re transitioning into a run organization, where we’ll be applying for grants and [hosting] city-sanctioned races,” says Valiente. Stride on.
Who it’s for: High achievers who enjoy cooling down with a margarita
We can get behind any run club that sanctions “No-Shower Happy Hours” at the end of a brutal session—and apparently, the 700 members of Electric Flight Crew agree.
“We wanted to create opportunities for young professionals to socialize over fitness,” says digital media pro Jonathan Patton, who co-founded EFC with his college buddy Josh Goldman, a sports medicine doctor. “Josh and I would always work out and either get a juice or beer afterwards…we hadn’t seen any other fitness clubs with a social component.”
The group started strictly as a run club—and it still hosts weekly distance runs, sprint workouts, and circuit training programs for all levels in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and the South Bay—but has more recently evolved to include biweekly fitness parties with boutique studios around LA, with past partners including Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle, and OrangeTheory.
Although you do have to apply for membership in EFC (the monthly fee is $30), Patton insists it’s not an elitist thing. “We want to make sure our members are willing to contribute to growing this community,” he explains, noting that the current group is mostly made up of young professionals—doctors, entrepreneurs, fitness experts—between 25 and 35. “We find the best members are people who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
A lot bigger, it seems—EFC has plans to spread its wings to NYC, Miami, Austin, and Chicago in the near future.
Posing School by The Local Skill
Who it’s for: Aspiring fitfluencers with flawless Instagrams
When super-stylish trainer Shay Kostabi started hosting art runs as part of The Local Skill—her six-month-old art/fitness event collective—she realized that her runners were just as interested in scoring the perfect selfie as they were in logging miles. “Because we build the run around iconic hotspots in LA, we stop to take photos,” she explains. “People get so excited about the history, art, and architecture that we spend more time at the stops than on the run!”
For that reason, Kostabi is prepping to launch “Posing School”—a two-mile run that culminates at a secret photogenic location. After exploring the area and learning about the art, she says, “we’ll teach people what their best angles are, how to interact with the background, and we’ll work with them on cool poses.” Attendees will also get a quick tutorial in editing images…since no social media fitness star actually uses those pre-programmed filters.
Although Posing School is free for now, an RSVP will be required to keep the group small and intimate—keep an eye on social to find out when the first one will be held (and to get some outfit ideas).