Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie in… Los Angeles

Our covert reporter tackles the hottest new workout on the planet

Spa Junkie in… Los Angeles

Image: Jay Yeo

August 20 2011
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2 | 3

The City of Angels is where Spa Junkie was first conceived.

A lot of hard work and a bit of good fortune saw one of my ideas fly, and before I knew it, I was commuting between London and LA. I found myself the unlikely neighbour of Penélope Cruz and Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood hills. My temporary digs were home to a household name who had gone off shooting for six months; it was a P Diddy-style pad with a serious bit of entertainment space, kitted out to the hilt – Technopolis would have wept.

To my great fortune and absolute joy, the spot came with a chef and a trainer. Chef Kate stocked my fridge daily with containers of dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb, no-sugar and all-calorie-counted goods, freshly prepared on the premises. Amanda, who trained the Victoria’s Secret models, put me through my paces in the converted-garage gym each day. And so with brain, bum and tum taken care of, I set about becoming an Angeleno, which meant spending days hiking up canyons, sipping on green tea bombas from the Urth Caffé and hanging out at gyms and yoga centres.

On repeat visits to the city, such as this one, I always bolt on a few days extra to see what’s new – and to check that my string of good old faithfuls are just as punishing as I remember.

PHYSIQUE 57

No surprise: the hottest new workout on the planet was devised in America. The sinewy, ballerina-body type is the envy and goal of all, and this new company recently debuted a class in LA, promising long and lean limbs, perky derrière and sculpted arms in just eight sessions. No wonder it was listed as one of the 500 fastest-growing firms in America by Inc. magazine.

It’s a Pilates-yoga-interval training hybrid, and has a tribe of evangelists stretching from NYC to LA.

A handsome ex-ballet dancer glides across the room, as if on stage. He is coming to collect the “newbie” at reception. His posture is perfect; for a second, I wonder if he will plié in front of me.

He beams as he greets me. “Is this your first time with us?”

Yes.

“Omigod, are you from London?”

Yes.

“I luuuuuuuve London, I love your accent, I love Notting Hill! Welcome welcome to Physique 57. What do you know about the exercise?”

Not much, apart from the fact that all my friends are raving about it.

“Really? Wow, that’s fantastic! Come with me; all will be revealed in a minute.”

As we walk down the long corridor, he explains. “The workout was inspired by Lotte Berk, and the programme combines isometric exercises and orthopaedic stretches that lengthen and sculpt your muscles. We do very specific and focused exercises that ensure individual muscles are targeted and overloaded to the point of fatigue, then stretched for relief. We call this ‘interval overload’, and it’s brilliant for muscle-defining.”

He walks me into the studio, a small rectangular room with a ballet barre just below the mirror. The floor is a deep pile carpet, which I’m sure serves a purpose – but it’s still not the most hygienic of surfaces, and as it’s the last class of the day, I momentarily ponder those who battled this barre before me, and the amount of sweat and tears that have dripped on my spot. Repulsed, I try and focus on something else.

I'm handed a ball and straps. Is this what all this hullabaloo is about? I wonder.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.