Having spent the better part of my life in urban centres like New York, Montreal and San Francisco, I’ve witnessed how community spaces can act as a powerful source of connection in cities with millions of inhabitants. In Los Angeles, a city with an endless array of boroughs and communities, movement spaces play an even more crucial role, fostering a powerful sense of belonging in those who frequent them. These studios and gyms serve as a “third place” for individuals, offering access to a space between work and home that is dedicated to both recreation and self-care.

As the mecca of all things wellness, LA offers an overwhelming number of fitness destinations for newcomers and travellers alike. My latest trip to California focused on exploring some of these self-care hubs. Read on for some of my favourites.


The Class in Los Angeles

Photo: Val Desjardins

As an avid user of their online platform,  The Class remains one of my preferred workout experiences in Los Angeles. Since its inception in 2013, the brand has expanded to include a roster of over 20 teachers, launched a subscription-based digital platform and expanded its offerings to include luxury wellness retreats focused on their practice.

The Class can best be described as a somatic movement practice that combines strength, cardio, and guided meditation. Mindfulness techniques are integrated into the coaching, complementing the focus on physicality. While all teachers are excellent, I highly recommend founding teacher Jaycee Gossett, whose teaching I’ve experienced both as part of The Class’ Retreatments and at the outpost in Santa Monica.


Open Studio Los Angeles

Photo: Val Desjardins

Since its inception, Open‘s notoriety has increased as they’ve worked to formalize their approach to blending elements of mindfulness, breathwork, cardiovascular health and functional strength training. By combining these modalities, they focus on creating alignment, paving the way for an all-encompassing, holistic fitness experience. They raised a record $14.5 million in seed funding in 2022, fueling their rapid expansion across the United States.

At the Venice location, my favourite instructor was Lihi Benisty, a seasoned teacher who offers the staple 60-minute Breath + Sound class, the studio’s flagship experience.


camp in los angeles

Photo: Val Desjardins

In creating the fitness studio CAMP, co-founders Jen Azzarelli and Jamie Lanza leaned into the sentiment of nostalgia and liberation intimately tied to the childhood memories of many gym-goers. After successfully launching an iteration of their concept in Tampa, they created a second outpost in Los Angeles, which opened its doors in Santa Monica in 2021.

The concept focuses on uniting different modalities on one ‘campus’, offering yoga, group circuits and mat-based sculpt classes out of the same space. This combination of different modalities under one roof allows for the cross-pollination of separate communities and encourages campers to try new workouts.

For those traveling to Los Angeles for just a few days, the sheer number of available classes makes it easy for newcomers to join the fun without much foresight or planning. The space is both friendly and welcoming, and it also offers the convenience of onsite parking.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by DMN8 (@dmn8_gym)

For those seeking an upscale gym experience that might go beyond the amenities available in their hotel, DMN8 is an excellent option. The fitness brand was originally founded by Edmond Roche, an Australian expat who was driven by a desire to own a company that would add value to people’s lives, and that leaned into his belief that the body could act as a powerful tool when it comes to safeguarding mental health.

DM8’s new, state-of-the-art indoor space is clean, inclusive and inviting for newcomers. Their space offers both one-time check-in options to use the gym facilities, group classes and semi-private training experiences for those looking to book a workout experience with friends.


Because of its proximity to the Santa Monica outpost of the Proper Hotel, Sweat Yoga was easily accessible to me throughout my stay in Los Angeles, offering a balanced, easy-going experience rooted in athletic, heated vinyasa-based classes. The studios are heated using infrared heaters, leveraging the recovery benefits common in infrared saunas, including decreased stress, improved blood flow and accelerated recovery processes. With four locations scattered across different areas of Los Angeles, the studios boast an oxygenated air circulation system that ensures participants breathe the best quality air possible throughout their time on-site.


STAY at the Proper Hotel in Santa Monica. The upscale boutique hotel was designed by Los-Angeles born artist Kelly Wearstler, who modelled the space after the city’s coastal terrain.

BOOK A FOOT SOAK at Den Mother, the Norwegian-inspired healing house devoted to restorative wellness practices. The cedar sauna at the back of the garden space can be booked privately, and includes both a sauna and a cold plunge–key elements in its suggested recovery protocol.

STOP BY Erewhon, the viral grocery store with plenty of organic snacks, a hot food bar packed with nutritious, ready-made options, and all of the salads imaginable. While you’re welcome to take your food to go, there is also seating available for those who want to settle in for a casual meal.

GO FOR A HIKE on the Temescal Canyon Trail. This 3-mile loop near the Pacific Palisades offers terrific views of both the city and the ocean, and remains moderately challenging for fitness enthusiasts.

TRY A turmeric latte at MUD/WTR: gather. The brand, best known for its assortment of coffee-alternative beverages packed with adaptogenic ingredients, has opened a brick-and-mortar location that hosts small community events and offers co-working spaces for locals.