The L.A. Tennis Club is a beautiful old club in the heart of Hancock Park. It features restaurant, bar, pool, and tons of tennis courts with associated fantastic tennis pros. Also, lot's of kid-friendly activities if you're into that. Yes, it costs a small fortune to join (inititation fee of $20,000!) plus you have to be recommended by two members. BUT, anyone can take a private lesson there for $75. You have to get a little lucky on scheduling the pros, but it's a great thing to do on a weekend, particularly if you want to hang out with friends who are members, but don't want to join any club that may or may not have you.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga Yoga, trains students and oversees a network of studios around the world from his HQ in Mysore, India. Jois' man in L.A. is James Butkevich, whose Ashtanga Yoga Los Angeles is in a dumpy mini-mall in Silver Lake. The mall is dumpy, but Butkevich is good, and has attracted a serious and loyal following. He usually spends the winter months in Mysore, but is back now. There's also a medicinal marijuana place in the same mall, and, across the street, a fantastic Cuban breakfast place, Cafe Tropical, which is reason enough to wake up early and practice.
In most parts of the world, spinning is about extreme suffering and catharsis. Spin instructors don't aim for funny, and that's almost always a blessing. Eileen O'Connell is the exception. A bombshell reminiscent of Teri Garr, she packs them in weekdays at the Santa Monica and West Hollywood Equinoxae, softening the pain with actual funny humor. You're in good hands on both spin and joke fronts: She's a made woman at Equinox -- Group Fitness Manager in the house -- while on Sunday evenings she performs in Hollywood with the Groundlings, the killer improv group and SNL launching pad. Catch her on the bike, or on the stage. She’s a real hoot.
The lovely Santa Monica branch of Exhale, a national chain of studios that feature Core Fusion and yoga classes, is shutting its Santa Monica location. A source says the landlord jacked up their rent, so they're moving into the nearby Fairmont Hotel. (Has this landlord read the papers recently?) In any event, the previous location had a gorgeous spa, which was a hot spot of sorts (ahem), for the local body sculpting set. The Venice location is still open, where popular yoga teachers include Hala Khouri and other YogaWorks defectors. A friend went on Hala's New Year's Eve retreat in Ojai, where she met cool film director Chris Weitz and his wife. The networking just never stops.
Ask about boot camps around L.A., and you'll quickly hear about two: Barry's Boot Camp, run by Barry Jay, and Sonki Fitness, run by Sonki Hong. Sonki's is outdoors, at various beach and/or park locations around the city. Barry's is in a West Hollywood studio that draws celebs like Katie Holmes and Jake Gyllenhaal. Friends of mine have reported participants regularly, well, boot, at Barry's Camp, but they still drag themselves there—even hungover!— on weekends. Other friends say that Sonki got them in the best shape of their lives. We like that Sonki's program has the added bonus of nature time. Bottom line: If you commit the time and money to these programs, and survive, you WILL a.) lose weight, and b.) feel extra bad ass.
On Feb 25, Bent on Learning, which brings yoga to New York's public schools, will host its Winter Fundraising Gala. Other than bringing stress relief to New York's kids, here's why some budding yogis might want to hit this thing: Among the hosts are many devoted students of yoga guru Eddie Stern, whose Soho studio is the New York outpost of the storied Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. (Gwyneth! Mike D from the Beastie Boys! Lisa Edelstein from the TV show "House!") Stern is famously strict about whom he takes on: Since he already has way too many students, he will only teach people serious enough to practice a minimum of three times a week, and preferably six times, (which makes yoga seem like a part time job, albeit one that comes with community and fringe spiritual benefits.) Even if you're ready to go daily, though, Stern can be picky, so this benefit may be your ticket--literally--in the door.
After the jump: Our Brutally Short Explanation of Ashtanga Yoga. Where to Find Serious Teachers. The Invite.More...
Please to recall that Gwyneth started a weekly lifestyle webzine several months back called Goop, as in: "Nourish the inner aspect." Well, the tag line's not bad. Anyway, the New Year's edition included this: "In January 2007 I decided I’d had enough of my saddlebags and post-pregnancy Shar-Pei-like stomach. I met an incredible woman who changed my life. Her name is Tracy Anderson. She is a dancer, a trainer, an 'organic plastic surgeon' as my friend Julia calls her....Right now she is on tour with Madonna so I do a lot of video chat with her and I do her DVDs...."
Well, don't get stuck on the ambiguous reference to Julia, or the cosy celebrity-email-BFF vibe, we've got follow up news for you via The Guardian: "The first Tracy Anderson Method Studio opens in New York's Tribeca this month, with later openings planned for Europe (including London), Asia and Australia." How true is this? Tracy has placed an ad on Craigslist seeking people to join her "elite core" of private trainers. (Forgive her for being overly focused on cores, and not corps.) "Candidates Must Have Expansive Dance Backgrounds or Group Exercise and Private Training/Pilates Experience....Please Bring Headshot/Resume and be Prepared to Dance. "
Move over Physique57!