In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that a few years ago I was a celebrity trainer—as in, a fitness professional with regular celebrity clients.
It’s a long story for another day, but just know that one cross-country move and a few years later I’ve moved on professionally. But if there’s one thing I learned about working with supermodels and Hollywood’s hottest actresses, it’s this: Celebrities work out way harder than the average person.
Seriously. Yes, they are genetic freaks of nature and are basically born with six-pack abs and blemish-free skin. But they also kill themselves in their workouts to make sure they always look and feel their best. These weirdos also tend to gravitate to incredibly challenging types of exercise, because in their jam-packed schedules they need to get in the most effective sweat session possible.
What does that mean for us normal people who want to transform their bodies? For the most punishing workout, just follow the line of celebrities. To test my theory, I tried five of L.A.’s most popular studios (and one piece of exercise equipment) with known celeb clientele. Here’s how it went down.
First on my list—Rise Nation. Located in the heart of West Hollywood, you’re more likely to have a spot a celeb here than at Au Fudge or The Nice Guy (both of which are right down the street). Seriously, the star-studded roster of clients will blow you away: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, Hilary Duff, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jessica Biel, Emma Stone, Minka Kelly, Ashley Greene, Lily Aldridge, Irina Shayk, and Nina Dobrev all favor the workout.
After my first class, I understand why. The 30-minute workout—10 points to Rise Nation for brevity and efficiency—is done on a VersaClimber. You’re basically climbing on this piece of equipment without moving anywhere, similar to spin bike or treadmill, while maintaining a squat position and pushing and pulling with your arms. If it sounds impossibly difficult, that’s because it is. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, you will look stupid on your first try. Thankfully, the room is incredibly dark save for the rainbow lights above head, and the music is so loud that no one will hear you wheeze in agony.
That being said, I liked it a lot. Although I didn’t see any celebs in my 5:30 p.m. class, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the class flew by and by how sore my arms were the next day. Check it out if you need to get in a cardio and arm workout, or if you want to catch a glimpse of Bradley Cooper’s tush.
Over the past few years, Khloé Kardashian has completely transformed her body and health—and happily documented her hard work via social media. One of her favorite workouts to hit up when she’s not training with Gunnar Peterson? Cycle House.
I’m not the biggest fan of spin—I like Soulcycle just as much as the next fit-girl, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a “religious experience” like some fans. That being said, spinning is a great cross-training exercise for runners (that’s me!) because it’s relatively low-impact.
After renting a pair of shoes, I hobbled into class and hopped on a bike. The West Hollywood location is pretty big, and was totally packed. As we rocked, danced, and tapped it back on the bike, the room got hot fast. Like, sweating-in-my-eyes-dripping-down-my-ponytail hot. No doubt, I definitely got a good, detoxifying sweat session in. Did I love it? Not really, but I suppose I wasn’t expecting to. On a day when you need cardio (or are trying to sweat out a hangover) Cycle House will definitely do the trick. Khloé, clap back if you agree.
3Carrie’s Pilates Plus
Situated directly across the street from Cycle House (and around the corner from Rise Nation … It’s like these celebs want to be seen together or something), Carrie’s Pilates Plus has a giant poster of topless, muscle-bound men surrounding a petite blonde woman plastered to its studio window.
This photo, my friends, is confusing to many people. Pilates is a low and slow kinda workout, you know? One doesn’t expect the instructors to have bulging biceps. Sure, it’s great for lengthening muscles … But I once had a master instructor tell me that, “Anyone who tells you can get a six-pack from Pilates is lying.” Apparently, she never tried Carrie’s Pilates Plus.
Performed on megaformer machines (read: reformers on crack), the entire class is impossibly hard. I loved it. And after going a few days in a row, I saw more than my fair share of fashion bloggers, TV celebrities, and models in the class and understood why the men on the poster have serious muscles—my arms looked totally different just a few workouts later. Jackpot.
4Prevail Los Angeles Boxing
Prevail has all the trappings of a celebrity hotspot. Unassuming location? Check. Tight-knit, attractive crew? Check. Killer workout? Absolutely. It makes sense why Jamie Chung and Shea Marie love it so much—and the studio is only growing in popularity.
To be honest, I was really nervous to try boxing. With no idea what to expect, I was left worried that I’d be sparring in the ring with someone who knew what they were doing. Or even worse, boxing 1-on-1 with a trainer while people watched—my nightmare.
Thankfully, none of that happened after I stepped into the back room of Prevail. It’s more like boxing-meets-boot camp: There are different drills and exercises you do, with a bit of punching the bag. Most importantly, the trainers here are really nice. Don’t worry about looking like an idiot—you won’t, because the instruction is so on-point that your trainer will stop you before you do something stupid. For those that are mildly self-conscious, sign up for a class with Milan. He’s the brains and brawn behind Prevail, and one of the most considerate trainers I’ve ever met.
5Reebok Crossfit LAB
My celebrity sighting at the Reebok Crossfit LAB was totally out of left field. One of the LAB’s class offerings, EFX, is rumored to be the best workout in Los Angeles. Combining treadmill sprints, weight lifting, and bodyweight exercises, it was designed for elite Crossfit athletes to improve their cardiovascular performance. Masochist that I am, this sounded amazing.
And it was. The three times I took the class, each trainer did an incredible job managing the room and instructing each station. It was also an amazing workout—one that I’d never do on my own, but left me blissfully exhausted at the end. But this wasn’t the reason I took the class three times in a row.
Shirtless Joe Manganiello was. Yep, Mr. Sophia Vergara is a regular at the Reebok Crossfit LAB, where he pumps iron with the rest of the Crossfit athletes. At our first encounter, I practically ran smack into his bulging bicep as I trudged out of class in an sweaty daze. The second and last time I saw him, he was working out with the head coach in a far corner of the box. (That’s Crossfit speak for “gym”) I have it on good authority that more than one hot dude celebrity heads to this muscle mecca for strength training, so if you want to spot your celeb crush, take class at the LAB.
Kate Hudson, you fitness goddess. It seems like we blinked, and all of the sudden she not only had a fitness apparel empire (Hi, Fabletics!) but also crafted the hottest bod ever. Hudson swears by the typical celebrity stuff to get her chiseled abs—yoga, Pilates, hiking—but she recently posted on her Instagram about something called the BootyBelt.
You had me at booty.
This thing attaches to your waist and has two elliptical-shaped elastics hanging down by your tush. Attach these elastics to your feet and, voilà, it’s time to work your glutes … In theory. In real life, the bands were so tight that my donkey kicks looked like sad leg twitches. Eventually, the bands loosened up and I was able to perform the exercises outlined in the tutorial DVD that comes with the belt. Honestly, it works pretty well. Imagine the type of glute work you’d see in a Tracy Anderson or barre class, except with more resistance. It’s tough, but definitely worth it. If you’re motivated enough to work out at home, try the bootyband—if Kate can get down with it, so can you!