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We tried Aerospace, the sleek new cardio-boxing gym in West Hollywood

We tried Aerospace, the sleek new cardio-boxing gym in West Hollywood
Former pro boxer Michael Olajide Jr. of Aerospace in West Hollywood. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

What if the anger about our unjust world was taken out in a boxing class instead of by devouring cake, writing anxious posts on social media or crying into a pillow?

This past month, after the bad news vortex, my air punches at Aerospace High Performance Center, a new boutique boxing gym in West Hollywood, took on a surprising forcefulness. There was a sense that the whole room of fit men and women, mostly in their 20s to 40s, was savoring a similar release.

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Olajide and his signature winged shoes.
Olajide and his signature winged shoes. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Aerospace offers challenging 60-minute, boxing-inspired fitness classes with high-intensity jump rope intervals and jabs with light weights, as well as "impact" sessions that involve hitting boxing bags paired with grueling boot-camp-like exercises.

It is these techniques that have gotten the likes of Demi Moore, Eva Mendez and Will Smith into killer shape. The fitness method is the brainchild of former ballerina Leila Fazel and her partner, onetime pro boxer Michael Olajide Jr.

With Olajide's striking silver metal eye patch, wiry frame and metallic wings on his sneakers, he appears more of a comic-book character than a fitness coach; as it turns out, the secret power to Olajide's fitness method is in his eye.

Leila Fazel and Olajide mimic murals on the wall at their new gym.
Leila Fazel and Olajide mimic murals on the wall at their new gym. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

He came up with his intensive cardio boxing-inspired fitness method after injuring his eye in a boxing match, leading him to shift his career. In the early 2000s his Aerospace classes took off in New York City and attracted a ton of celebrity clients. Now he's taken his methods to the West Coast.

Aerospace's new West Hollywood location has sleek white walls, complimentary towels and a pristine white locker room. Newcomers are recommended to start with "Intro to Aerospace," which is a high-cardio class with shadow boxing (or punching in the air).

The boxing sequences are simple at first but quickly get more complex by building into more difficult and quick-paced combinations.

For those looking for an even more grueling class, there's "Aero C.A.M.P.," which focuses on footwork and core strength. For the more traditional boxing classes there's "Aerospace Impact."

After an intro class, my arms burned from air punches and I became winded from jumping up and down; Aerospace coaches keep going long after you want to pause. A regular assured me that it gets a little easier with time. He said he comes with his teenage son, who can "get out of his head" and blow off some steam.

The boxing class is no solution to the world's evils (or your own), but you can barely think as the challenging cardio leaves you gulping for air while you relish each swing, and the only thing to do is to keep moving.

Cost: $25 per class

Aerospace High Performance Center, 1234 N. La Brea Ave. West Hollywood, aerospacenyc.com/la

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