It’s 8am on a Monday morning when I slap my yoga mat onto the hot studio floor, feeling a pre- emptive sense of virtuous wellbeing as the first beads of sweat gather on my brow. But any premature smugness is swiftly eviscerated when I overhear a few hissed words from
my neighbour to her friend. “Are you double-classing today too? The killer combo is hot barre then hot power yoga, back to back.” Welcome to Santa Monica, California, where ‘double- classing’ is a verb.
For decades, this beachside enclave has
attracted the most health-trend obsessed inhabitants of a health-obsessed city (Los Angeles) in a health- obsessed state (California). As the coastal district closest to Hollywood, it was destined to become the palm-fringed playground of choice for sporty starlets, bodybuilders, dancers and performers. During the
’70s, Jane Fonda opened her aerobics studio here, future Olympian Carl Lewis trained at the Santa Monica Track Club and Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped iron
at the weightlifting mecca, Gold’s Gym. Today it’s where fitness trends and health fads are cooked up, sampled by a hungry but ruthlessly discerning public, and then either spat out or savoured and given the coveted Santa Monica seal of approval.
The Fondalike ’70s aerobics queens are still here but, a few decades and husbands later, they’ve swapped calisthenics for Cardio Barre and the grapefruit diet
for paleo. The changing room demographic is a mix
of taut-faced, oddly airbrushed-looking women who could be 49 or 69, semi-recognisable celebrities and fitness-obsessed twentysomethings working at tech companies on Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach. Mine are the only pale thighs in the room. I’m also the only one with mismatched gym socks.
Thing is, I’m no stranger to gyms. Back home, I do yoga at home most mornings, run 8km three times
a week and ClassPass my way around pilates, barre and BodyPump. I’ve had my fair share of flings with faddier offerings, and would rate myself a solid seven on the slob-to-sporty scale. Yet, in Santa Monica,
I suspect that number drops to a frumpy four.
I leave Hot 8 Yoga and console myself with a $14 Date Shake at Moon Juice, the most raved-about cold-pressed It’s 8am on a Monday morning when I slap my yoga mat onto the hot studio floor, feeling a pre- emptive sense of virtuous wellbeing as the first beads of sweat gather on my brow.