The Best Things to Do in L.A. On a Rainy Day: Sports & Fitness

Photo courtesy of Rockreation, Facebook

Los Angeles is renowned as the City of Champions and a mecca for fitness enthusiasts. On a rainy day you can cheer on your favorite team at an NBA, NHL or college game, or you can work up a sweat with one of L.A.’s many unique workout programs.

Staples Center Plaza

44. L.A. Clippers & L.A. Lakers - STAPLES Center

With the start of the NBA season each fall, STAPLES Center at L.A. LIVE in Downtown L.A. once again becomes the center of the Los Angeles pro basketball universe. The Lakers are one of the most successful franchises in all of sports, with 16 championships, 28 Hall of Famers (21 players, 4 head coaches, 1 assistant coach, and 2 contributors), and a 33-game winning streak (1971-72 season) that is still the longest of any team in American professional sports. Under the ownership of the late Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers won ten championships, a run that included the fabled Showtime era that was inspired by Dr. Buss’ vision that basketball games must be entertaining.

After years of playing in the shadow of the Lakers, the Clippers have recently taken the crown for L.A. basketball supremacy from their longtime rivals. “Lob City” cemented its newfound status on March 6, 2014, when the Clippers defeated the Lakers 142-94. The 48-point victory was the most lopsided ever for the Clippers franchise and the most one-sided loss in Lakers history. Led by the trio of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, the Clippers repeated as Pacific Division champions in 2014 and expectations are high for the team to go deep in the playoffs this season.

Pauley Pavilion | Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics, Facebook

46. UCLA Bruins - Pauley Pavilion

A pilgrimage to the UCLA campus in Westwood is a must for anyone in search of NCAA basketball history. Under legendary coach John Wooden, the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team won 10 national championships in 12 years, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. Pauley Pavilion was the team’s home court for nine of Wooden’s championships. Jim Harrick coached the team to an 11th title in 1995, and former coach Ben Howland led the team to three consecutive Final Four appearances, from 2006-2008. The “House That Wooden Built” reopened on Nov. 9, 2012 after a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation.

Galen Center | Photo courtesy of USC

47. USC Trojans - Galen Center

While the USC Trojans men’s basketball team has a storied basketball history in its own right, with an alumni list that includes NBA Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, NBA standout Gus Williams and legendary coach Tex Winter, it’s the women’s team that’s made more of a national mark in recent decades. Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Cheryl Miller are among the former stars of Trojan teams, which have taken home two NCAA Championship crowns. The Trojans play in the $147 million Galen Center, which opened in 2006.

LMU vs Pepperdine at Gersten Pavilion
LMU vs Pepperdine at Gersten Pavilion | Photo: Loyola Marymount

48. LMU Lions - Gersten Pavilion

If you’re looking for Division I basketball in a raucous, high school gym-like atmosphere, Gersten Pavilion at Loyola Marymount University is the place to be. Situated in the middle of the university’s Westchester campus southeast of Marina del Rey, Gersten Pavilion seats less than 4,200 people but has broken the 4,500 mark with standing-room-only crowds. The Lions roared onto the national basketball scene in the late 1980s under coach Paul Westhead. His teams led Division I in scoring three years in a row, and LMU’s 1990 average of 122.4 points per game is still an NCAA record. Westhead’s teams also hold the records for most points scored by a team in a single game (186) and highest combined score in a game (331).

Pepperdine Waves Firestone Fieldhouse
Photo: Pepperdine Men's Basketball, Facebook

49. Pepperdine Waves - Firestone Fieldhouse

Located at Pepperdine University’s idyllic oceanside campus in Malibu, Firestone Fieldhouse seats about 3,100 people but has housed as many as 4,500 for the Waves’ West Coast Conference games. Many greats have donned the Orange and Blue, including Naismith Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson; 15-year NBA veteran and defensive wizard Doug Christie; Olympians Marcos Leite and Yakhouba Diawara; and other WCC legends like Dana Jones, Dwayne Polee, Boot Bond and Orlando Phillips. Between 1991 and 1993, the Waves set a WCC record by winning 38 straight games against conference opponents. A year before the Waves moved into Firestone Fieldhouse, William “Bird” Averitt electrified crowds by scoring an NCAA-best 33.9 points per game during the 1972-73 season.


50. L.A. Derby Dolls

Founded in 2003, the L.A. Derby Dolls are Southern California’s premier women’s banked-track, quad-skating, roller derby league. Within the league, four teams battle for dominance: Fight Crew, Sirens, Tough Cookies and Varsity Brawlers. The L.A. Ri-Ettes are L.A. Derby Dolls' all-star team that competes on a national level against the best of the best in the country. While their uniforms may be stylish and their names playful, do not be fooled by appearances – the L.A. Derby Dolls are athletes who skate a sport that is unscripted and real. Honored as a Treasure of Los Angeles by the Central City Association, the L.A. Derby Dolls embody the do-it-yourself, “for the skaters, by the skaters” ethos of modern women’s roller derby.

Swimmer at the Los Angeles Athletic Club
Photo: Los Angeles Athletic Club

51. Los Angeles Athletic Club

Founded in 1880 as the first private club in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Athletic Club set out to be a center for physical culture in Southern California. While other subsequent private clubs emerged to foster social interaction, professional networking, and special interests (like magic), the LAAC came to encompass all of those things. Read on for the story of this L.A. icon.

Evolve Dance Studio

52. 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.

Photo: Siesta Yoga

53: Siesta Yoga

Siesta Yoga sits right in the heart of Hollywood, ready with a wide variety of flow and alignment classes as well as a monthly modular sound bath. Brandee and Christian invite you to bask in the vibration of quartz crystal singing bowls, tuned to the key of your chakras. Candlelight flow classes, morning meditation, and various workshops make this a unique stop for anyone’s spiritual journey.

54. Rockreation

With all that specialty equipment (not to mention those vertical walls) even indoor rock climbing can be intimidating. The Fight Gravity One class at Rockreation is designed with novices in mind. The first third of the class is spent learning knots, setting up a belay and reviewing safety. Then the students ascend walls of varying difficulty. You don’t need to buy any expensive shoes or other gear, Rockreation has you covered. Instructors are even trained to coach students with acrophobia; and yes, they do get them. For those who think only their arms are going to get a workout, general manager Erin Guinn says that’s a “common misconception,” adding that students will feel it in their core and legs as well.

Sandbox Fitness

55. 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.

Sky High Sports

56. 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.

57. 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.