Forget the Gym
Fun Fitness Alternatives for the New Year
Mike Ciriaco

Gyms want you to believe you need them in order to be healthy. Sure, they provide equipment and varying levels of instruction, but there are many comparable fitness alternatives that don't involve monthly fees and high-pressure sales pitches. Los Angeles offers a bevy of exercise options to lose weight, improve core strength and increase lung capacity, many of which cater primarily to the LGBT community. Frontiers has the best gay-friendly fitness alternatives in SoCal to help you live healthier and happier.


Developed in 2000 by Greg Glassman, CrossFit training is a strength and conditioning program incorporating constantly varied and functional movement. While workouts tend to be relatively brief (usually less than 20 minutes), they are also incredibly intense, demanding full exertion. This exercise option is ideal for any busy Angeleno looking to maximize results within a limited time frame.

CrossFit Sunset
Denizens of Echo Park recently acquired this 4,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art CrossFit facility right in their backyard. The refurbished industrial space combines typical training elements such as rowing machines, free weights and kettlebells with extra perks like a sprung floor and Astroturf. CFS strives to give a first-class, individualized experience and offers a free intro class and three private coaching sessions to introduce proper form and technique to anyone new to CrossFit. crossfitsunset.com

Brick CrossFit
Brick provides many benefits for choosing its facilities—improved energy, increased strength, weight loss. But its primary advantage is the sense of community they offer their members. “There is an amazing sense of camaraderie that I truly have never felt at another gym or fitness establishment," beams BCF member Iheoma O. "That, combined with hardcore-drenched-in sweat, ‘you want us to do what?’ makes this place addictive.” Brick offers a free week membership at both its WeHo and Brentwood locations. brickcrossfit.com

Reebok CrossFit
With owners like Yumi Lee, PJ Stahl and Ron Mathews, you know you’re going to receive a successful, muscle-blasting workout at Reebok CrossFit. Collectively, the RCF team has been lauded by publications such as Men’s Journal and has personally trained actors, models and athletes including Brad Pitt, Jessica Alba, P!nk, Hugh Jackman, Demi Moore, Orlando Bloom, David Beckham and Britney Spears. These venerable trainers not only own the gym but also serve as hands-on instructors, giving their classes an extra edge. reebokcrossfitlab.com

Max Phoenix Effect
A notable alternative to traditional CrossFit was developed by trainer Max Phoenix. This hybrid approach incorporates Pilates, weight training, kettlebell and cutting-edge plyometrics techniques for integration that leads to lasting lifestyle transformations. Max's  method focuses on developing an individual relationship with each client, encourages team-building to facilitate improvement and helps cultivate healthy habits and attitudes that lead to success. Max offers weight training, hybrid pilates, kickboxing, kettlebell training, prenatal fitness, rehabilitation, nutrition, goal planning and private training. maxphoenixfitness.com


One of the reasons people stray from fitness goals is because they find it boring. For some, going to the gym every other day to lift or jog on a treadmill is more tedious than the results are worth, and they easily find ways to talk themselves out of exercising. A preferable alternative is joining a sports league. This not only provides a workout but an application of athletic skill and social interaction that solo weightlifting and cardio lack. Southern California offers a variety of amateur athletic organizations to choose from, many with a gay focus.

Make your jock fantasy a reality. Lambda Basketball League is dedicated to providing the L.A. gay community with a well-organized and friendly sporting environment. New players are constantly encouraged to attend, no matter what skill level. It’s as simple as checking out the website, signing up and then showing up to one of the practices. In addition to providing the community with access to basketball, the organization strives to promote health education and community service. lambdabasketball.com

Winter in L.A. ranges from mild to nonexistent, so if you want to see snow this season, your best bet is to schlep to the slopes. Fortunately, SoCal offers not just one but two gay-oriented ski/snowboard organizations. The first, The Arriba! Ski and Snowboard Club, regularly visits nearby Mammoth to hit the powder, as well as a number of international destinations, including Val d’Isère, France, and Nagano, Japan. The second, SAGA L.A.—Gay Ski, Snowboard and Social Club, was founded in 1975 by a group of self-described "transplanted gay skiers from Utah." The small circle has now expanded to nearly 200 members who attend 10 ski trips per season. arribaski.org; sagala.org

Water Polo
For some reason, this sport where speedo clad athletes get wet and manhandle each other has always been an Olympics gay fan favorite. Joking aside, anyone who has actually competed in this sport knows the skill and endurance required to excel in the game. This caliber of competitor is ideal for West Hollywood Aquatics (WH2O), a masters swimming and water polo club with a roster of over 180 members in the SoCal area ranging from ex-Olympians to novices in the sport. There are daily coached workouts and seasonal clinics for players to hone their swimming and water polo talents. wh2o.org

Why should Silver Lake hipsters have all the ironic fun? The motto of WeHo's Stay Puft Dodgeball League is “Winning is for losers! We play for fun!” An offshoot of The World Dodgeball Society, the ultimate goal is gathering fun-loving folks from all walks of life. A mere $55 buys you into their 10-week season with games held every Tuesday at West Hollywood Park. Expect plenty of post-game shenanigans at unofficial Dodgeball clubhouse Gym Bar. dodgeball4ever.com

Gaybors of L.A. shouldn't feel excluded. There are plenty of sports organizations throughout SoCal in which to participate. One example is Long Beach's LGBT Soccer Meet-Up Group. Like Long Beach itself, this group is laidback and casual. No trophies, intimidation or rough play—just an interest in the game. All ages, genders and skill levels are welcome. It’s an ideal situation
for anyone interested in learning a new sport, meeting new people and discovering a new way to exercise. meetup.com/rainbow-soccer-group


If team sports aren't your style, perhaps taking a class may better suit your needs. These classes still provide a social element, but without the pressures of actual athletic interaction. L.A. is brimming with unique and effective studios dedicated to improving your flexibility, rhythm and cardiovascular health.

Sweat Spot
Richard Simmons isn't the only instructor in town that'll make you sweat. Ryan Heffington's Silver Lake-based dance studio, commonly known as The Sweat Spot, offers a full schedule that includes pilates, ballet, jazz, African and hip-hop, as well as Ryan's eponymous Sweaty Sundays. Since opening its doors in the summer of 2010, the studio's goal is to offer a supportive environment for dancers of all ages and skill levels. The only requirement to be a student at the Sweat Spot is a desire to move your body. thesweatspotla.com

Broadway Bodies
The New York phenomenon has now expanded to the West Coast. This dance cardio workout melds both basic and challenging choreography with high impact aerobics set to show tunes, movie musicals and pop videos. Triple-threat Joe Komara utilizes his professional Broadway experience as the program's acting instructor, coordinator and choreographer. If you've ever seen a dance routine in a musical or a music video and thought to yourself, “I wish I could do that!,” then Broadway Bodies is the answer! la.broadwaybodies.com

Runyon Canyon Yoga
Yoga is an ideal, non-impact workout suited for any age or athletic ability. The best part is that any Angeleno can practice it for free. Runyon Canyon offers yoga classes three to five times a day, seven days a week. The instructors are friendly and knowledgable and encourage neophytes to jump in with the experienced. Check the website for the daily schedules; grab a mat, towel and water bottle; then simply stretch your stress away. runyoncanyon-losangeles.com

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