Dance, Kick and Fly at the Best Alternative Workouts in L.A.

Pick-up game at Lake Hollywood Park | Photo courtesy of Bumper Balls, Facebook

Even the best exercise classes can get stale after a while. But in L.A., it’s swimsuit season nearly year-round, so we have to stick with it. Shake up your workout routine with our guide to alternative workouts. If a kayak trip down the Los Angeles River or a trampoline class isn’t your thing, perhaps you’d like to exercise in a huge sandbox or kick a soccer ball in a giant bubble suit.

Sunrise Yoga | Photo courtesy of OUE Skyspace

Sunrise Yoga at OUE Skyspace

Sure, you can find a yoga class in every neighborhood. But what about yoga on the tallest open air observation deck in California? Every fourth Saturday of the month through September, participants can experience Sunrise Yoga at OUE Skyspace taught by Paula Pavlova, accompanied with a final stretch on the Skyslide. Paula will be teaching a mixed level Vinyasa Flow, specifically crafted to weave together power with grace and vitality, with restoration by strengthening the core and opening the hips.

Pick-up game at Lake Hollywood Park | Photo courtesy of Bumper Balls, Facebook

Bumper Balls

If the idea of donning a giant bubble suit and smashing into other bubble-suited folks while kicking a soccer ball sounds fun, then have we got a game for you: Bubble Soccer. Apparently it all started when a Norwegian comedian introduced it as a joke. But it quickly became a phenomenon, especially in Australia and New Zealand, says Matt Rusan of Bumper Balls. Rusan brought the game to Los Angeles in fall 2014. His company hosts regular pick-up games throughout the city in locations like Lake Hollywood Park, and anyone is welcome to join the fun. There are a few rules - no sneak attacks from behind for example. But otherwise it’s pretty loose. Check their website for upcoming games and reserve your spot.

Daybreaker at The Springs with DJ Dan | Photo courtesy of Daybreaker, Facebook


Imagine a dance party that starts at 6 a.m. instead of 10 p.m. And people are drinking orange juice instead of Vodka Cranberries. Everyone is in tennis shoes or flats, and there’s no bouncer with a clipboard to impress for entry. That’s the essence of Daybreaker, a crack-of-dawn, sweaty, feel-good dance party open to one and all. The gatherings take place twice a month at various venues throughout the city, like a recent event at The Springs in Downtown L.A. that featured the legendary DJ Dan. We suggest reserving your spot in advance. Sign up on the website to get the skinny on the next event.

Pole dancer at Evolve Dance Studio | Instagram by @evolvepoledance

Evolve Dance Studio

According to Evolve Dance Studio owner Lani Henderson, “Pole dancing looks difficult, and it is difficult. But it’s attainable.” For those new to the art, there is a Pole Virgin class offered four times a week where moves such as the "Firefly" and "Sun Wheel" are taught. Worried about the embarrassment factor? You’ll get over it quickly. “Everyone is here for the same reason,” says Henderson, “To get sexy, or fit or both.” New students can purchase a reduced rate, three pack of pole classes online. Guys are welcome too.

Feet & Paws Fitness

At Feet & Paws Fitness, you and your pooch both get a workout. Your dog may even pick up some new tricks along the way. Before your first class, a half hour consultation with owner Tracy James is required. But assuming your dog plays nicely with others and both of you meet some very basic requirements, you can sign up to take one of the hour long classes. Offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Airport Park in Santa Monica, they deliver a combination of cardio and strength training. And James tries to mix it up each session, so every workout is a little different.

Hollywood Aerial Arts | Instagram by @whitefawnxoxo

At Hollywood Aerial Arts, which started in Tinseltown and is now located in Inglewood, it’s all about going up. They offer classes in hoop (not hula, but a suspended, spinning ring), aerial silk, rope and even flying trapeze. And while many students of HAA has gone on to perform in Las Vegas shows, most of their classes are open to all levels, including total beginners. You’re guaranteed to wow your Facebook friends after a few sessions here.

Photo courtesy of L.A. Derby Dolls, Facebook

L.A. Derby Dolls

If you’ve always dreamed of your very own roller derby name like Susan B. Agony, Wikibleedia, or Smash Face (all real names from the rink by the way), then may we suggest you start at the beginning, by learning exactly how to fall, which is among the things you will review in the L.A. Derby Dolls very first Skills for Thrills class, part of their Derby Por Vida program. The classes are offered as an eight-week series. And they are constantly starting. So you never have to wait long to enroll. The one-hour classes are taught by actual Derby Dolls and guys are welcome. Those interested in furthering their studies and possibly becoming actual Dolls—sorry guys, this one’s strictly for the girls—can enter the “Fresh Meat” program. Interested but not quite ready to invest in the gear? You can borrow just about everything. It’s BYO mouth guard however.

Pickleball at Venice Beach paddle tennis courts | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Pickleball 4 All


Pickleball may win the title of silliest name for a sport. But it is also quite possibly the fastest growing sport in North America, and for good reason. The game, a cross between ping-pong and tennis, is easy to learn, good for all ages, and doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. At the Venice Beach Recreation Center, special pickleball sessions are offered at the paddle tennis courts on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 10 a.m. Doug Nichols, the USA Pickleball Association’s Ambassador for the Los Angeles Metro area, oversees the program and welcomes beginners. He always has racquet loaners. And pickleball, which can be played indoors or out, happens no matter the weather.

Photo courtesy of Sandbox Fitness, Facebook

Sandbox Fitness

David and Minna Herskowitz are one of those incredibly fit couples the rest of us can only view with admiration. Some of their favorite workouts are at the beach, because they’re demanding but kinder on the joints. But the couple couldn’t always get to the beach, so they opened Sandbox Fitness in 2014 and brought the beach to Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Their gym offers a variety of classes, including Surfset which is done on faux surfboards, and Sandworks, a boot camp-style class. All the classes have one thing in common: they are done in a massive sandbox. No sunscreen required.

AIR-obics class | Photo courtesy of Sky High Sports

Sky High Sports

The entire 50-minute AIR-obics class at Sky High Sports takes place on trampolines. But don’t think you have to be a gymnast. Moves like the "Sky Jack" and "Booty Bounce" are designed so that even newbies can do them. And accessible doesn’t mean no sweat. According to Sky High founder Jerry Raymond, it is not uncommon for students to burn more than 1,000 calories per class. “They are laughing the entire time,” he adds. No special attire is required, though you may want to pick up a pair of $2 reusable jump socks, which aid with traction, at the front desk.

Headlamp climbing | Photo courtesy of Stronghold Climbing Gym, Facebook

Stronghold Climbing Gym

Every two or three months, Stronghold Climbing Gym, which occupies a portion of a circa 1904 steam plant in Downtown Los Angeles (now part of the Brewery Art Complex), turns down the lights inside. Climbers don headlamps - your own, or you can purchase one at Stronghold for around $30. The music is turned up and the atmosphere is definitely a party. According to employee Dave Clark, many climbers are drawn by the novelty factor of headlamp climbing. The staff runs games like climbing Twister and another one where dots are projected on a wall and climbers have to tag them as they ascend. Clark adds, “It also attracts people serious into climbing who want to practice in the dark.” After all, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for you. Don’t have the proper gear? You can rent everything you need for $6.

Photo courtesy of Surf Academy, Facebook

Surf Academy

“Bring a sense of humor and a water bottle.” So says Marion Clark, managing partner of Surf Academy, which offers private and semi-private lessons in Santa Monica just south of the pier. Why a sense of humor? “No matter what kind of athlete you are, the ocean is going to find your weaknesses,” says Clark. “If you can’t laugh about that, you won’t enjoy the process at all.” Clark and her staff spend ample time teaching students about the ocean experience, rhythm and timing. But much of this is done on the board. “People get out of the water exhausted,” she says. In a good way, of course.

Photo courtesy of Tempest Freerunning Academy, Facebook

Tempest Freerunning Academy

Don’t expect to be trouncing the competition on American Ninja Warrior anytime soon if you’ve never done parkour or freerunning. But if that sort of thing appeals to you - climbing vertical walls, flying over obstacles - a beginner class at Tempest Freerunning Academy is just what the doctor ordered. Spring floors mean soft landings. They have carpeted and slanted walls that make those Spiderman moves a bit more attainable. The only equipment you need is a pair of decent athletic shoes. A fierce attitude is helpful too.