Training in Los Angeles with Blake Leeper

Blake Leeper is seeking to be the first American amputee to qualify for the Olympics. Can you keep pace with a world-class athlete? Follow Leeper's journey to the 2020 Summer Olympics as he shares his intense LA workouts. From lifting weights at Los Angeles Athletic Club to running the track at UCLA and shooting hoops at Venice Beach, Leeper shows us where he trains in Los Angeles, so you can too.

Blake Leeper lifting weights at Los Angeles Athletic Club
Blake Leeper lifting weights at Los Angeles Athletic Club

The Los Angeles Athletic Club

Founded in 1880 as the first private club in LA, the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) includes state-of-the-art athletic and spa facilities; award-winning restaurants and bars; a 72-room hotel; and meeting and conference rooms. The LAAC presents the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the outstanding men’s and women’s college basketball players of the year. Athletes from the LAAC have won numerous medals in the Summer Olympics. LAAC members have included a Who’s Who of LA power brokers and Golden Age Hollywood celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, who lived and trained there for extended periods during his formative years.

Drake Stadium at UCLA

Drake Stadium is the home of the UCLA Bruins soccer and track & field teams. Located on the northwest end of campus near Sunset Boulevard, Drake Stadium is named in honor of Elvin C. "Ducky" Drake, a legendary UCLA student-athlete, track coach and athletic trainer for over 60 years. Marshall Field - the grass infield that’s widely considered one of the finest playing surfaces in the country - is named for UCLA alumnus and Oscar-nominated film producer, Frank Marshall.

Thanks to its Tartan track surface, the nine-lane, 400-meter track is perfect for a run any time of year - four laps is about a mile. For a serious cardio workout, hit the stadium stairs. Because of frequent team practices and sporting events, check the UCLA website for track availability.

"Drake Stadium has been my home track for the past four years," says Blake. "I'm there five to seven days a week."

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

One of LA's most popular running paths, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook features 282 uneven stairs surrounded by dirt and brush that rise from an industrial stretch of Culver City to a circular hilltop terrace. From this vantage point, it’s possible on a clear day to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of LA. To the north, you’ll see Ballona Creek and Hayden Tract in the foreground and the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance. To the east, look for Downtown LA skyscrapers and out west, the Pacific Ocean.

Blake says, "I think about all the disabled kids out there in the world that are kind of facing similar challenges as me. That's why I love going to the top of the hill and doing Baldwin Hills - you get that view of the whole city and it really puts it in perspective for me."

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

"Walking into the Coliseum - it's one of those things when I walked in, it felt like home. I felt like I'm meant to be here." 

Since opening in June 1923, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has become one of the world’s greatest sports venues, home to world-class athletes and legendary games. The Coliseum has also hosted numerous historic figures and countless special events. It is the only facility in the world to host two Olympiads (X and XXIII), two Super Bowls (I and VII), one World Series (1959), a Papal Mass, and visits by three U.S. Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The Coliseum will add to this illustrious record in 2028 when LA hosts the XXXIV Olympiad. The Coliseum was declared a National Historic Landmark on July 27, 1984.

Designed by DLR Group, the two-year $315-million renovation of the Coliseum was completed in August 2019 ahead of the Rams first preseason game and the USC Trojans home opener.

Blake Leeper at the Venice Beach Basketball Courts
Blake Leeper about to swish a jump shot at the Venice Beach Basketball Courts

Venice Beach Basketball Courts

LA has plenty of indoor and outdoor basketball courts where you can watch or join in on some hardcore hoops. The John Wooden Center and Student Activities Center (formerly the Men’s Gym) at UCLA; Silver Lake’s Bellevue Recreation Center, Westwood Recreation Center, Brentwood’s Barrington Park, and Pan Pacific Park in Mid-City all offer competitive games on the hardwood and blacktop. Out of dozens of beachside courts, for LA hoops junkies none have more of an “only-in-LA” vibe than the famed courts at Venice Beach, which were featured prominently in White Men Can’t Jump. Games go on all week and the intensity really ramps up on weekends.

"The great thing about Los Angeles - it benefits me to be outside. I can be outside 365 days of the year. The sun is just glowing. I'm just so thankful to be able to go out there and run."