On any given morning in Los Angeles, you’ll find actresses, models (and those that just look like models), hitting boutique fitness studios to get their sweat on. But at ModelFIT on 3rd Street, the newest outpost of the popular New York studio, you’ll probably find more of them per square foot than anywhere else in town.
The lithe and long-limbed — and those who aspire to be — come here for ModelFIT’s signature Sculpt workout that uses light weights and resistance bands to build strength without the bulk. In L.A. that’s not a totally unique proposition with barre and Pilates studios on every corner. But devotees of ModelFIT, such as models Karlie Kloss and Chrissy Teigen, praise this particular fusion workout’s booty-shaping power and focus on form.
Trainer Keely Ahrold, left, instructs participants in a ModelFIT sculpt class as they use bands to create resistance.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Participants work out with a four-pound exercise ball during a ModelFIT sculpt class.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Vanessa Packer, left, Trew Mullen, Karissa Rowe, Kacy Hill and Taylor Osumi work out with a four-pound exercise ball. Packer is the founder of ModelFIT.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Trainer Keely Ahrold, right, leads participants in a ModelFIT sculpt class. At left is Vanessa Packer, founder of ModelFIT.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Trainer Keely Ahrold, second from left, instructs participants in a ModelFIT sculpt class as they use bands to create resistance.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Trainer Keely Ahrold, center, does a routine using a four-pound exercise ball while leading a ModelFIT sculpt class.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Kacy Hill, left, and other participants in a ModelFIT sculpt class work out with Pilates rings while using bands to create resistance.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Stepping into the new ModelFIT studio is like walking into a New York City loft, with its white walls, minimalist design aesthetic and big, open windows that let in plenty of natural light. It’s a small space, giving everyone an up-close view of the instructor.
On this day, more than a dozen young women in crop tops and leggings — and a couple of men who accompanied them — gather their two-to-three-pound weights, circular resistance band and/or leg weights for the hour-long toning workout set to a mostly pop soundtrack of Drake, Sia, and the Chainsmokers.
The class moves from a warm-up with dynamic stretching to a high repetition series of squats and leg lifts with resistance bands, done from several different angles. At the same time, you’re working the upper body with overhead presses, forward and side raises, as well as standing twists across your body. These combination moves, as well as short cardio bursts with bouncy jogs and jumping jacks, keep your heart rate up.
From there, the workout moves to floor-based ab and glute work, with straight-leg crunches and one-legged bridge lifts, before heading into a stretch and cool down.
This is lower intensity than CrossFit or a traditional bootcamp, and I definitely felt that my abdominals and lower body got more of a workout than my arms, despite the fact that they were holding two-pound weights much of the time. But founder Vanessa Packer, a holistic nutritionist and former fashion stylist, says she’s not seeking to build big muscles, but rather a functional feminine physique.
“We build strength by targeting the hard-to-reach muscles, the smaller muscles that we believe matter most,” she said on a recent day in the studio.
There is a focus on proper form, and instructors walk around making small adjustments to help prevent injury and to help individuals modify or get more out of an exercise, making it a good choice for even beginners. Packer says instructors here are all certified by the Gray Institute, in applied functional science, to better help clients work through issues and customize exercises.
You get the sense that most people in this class are more focused on doing the workout that makes their favorite models runway ready, rather than seeking improvements in range of motion or functional strength.
There’s no shortage of sweaty selfies taken for Instagram after class. And even the sandwich board outside promises to get you “ready for your ‘after’ photo.” But if you can put up with all of the preening, you will get a solid workout.
$32 for a single class, discounts for packages. ModelFIT, 8067 W. 3rd Street. modelfit.com