Fitness studios go beyond the burn, into the realm of personal growth


That spin class may leave you feeling strong, but does it make you feel centered?

New wellness offerings are rolling out in fitness studios across Los Angeles that go beyond traditional cardio, strength, and flexibility, to include less physical pursuits such as meditative movement, breath work, journaling, personal development and Reiki.

“You can be in the best shape and be miserable if you aren’t doing … things to make yourself feel good and empowered,” says Tracey Raftery, founder of Knockout LA, a “self-discovery” studio in Playa del Rey that offers relationship workshops alongside Plyo Jam cardio dance classes.

Burned-out Angelenos can now schedule their self-care at fitness studios across Los Angeles if the big sweat isn’t taking the edge off.


Here are a few good options.

Get disruptive

Offerings at Knockout LA center around yoga, breath work, movement — and personal growth workshops. One particular class — Disruption — starts with a vigorous yoga practice before a pause to journal around a specific question, and ends with a freestyle dance party of the kind you probably did as a kid in your bedroom. It’s a great way to dump stress after a long day.

Knockout’s Fire Sessions classes held Monday and Wednesday are almost a religion for some of its devotees – a blend of visualization, breath and movement designed to get you out of your overburdened head and into your body, according to instructor Scott Picard. The class features intuitive dance-like movement set to live drumming and guitar with a series of questions and prompts to help participants better tap into what they’re feeling.

Info: $25 for a single class. 177 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey,



Healing from the inside out

Urban Zen classes may be held at YogaWorks studios around Los Angeles, but yoga is just one part of the experience. These classes were inspired by designer and devoted yoga enthusiast Donna Karan, yogi Rodney Yee — credited with helping to bring yoga to the masses in the 1990s — and his wife, Colleen Saidman Yee. Urban Zen Integrative Therapy was originally intended for patients facing illness, injury or stress in a medical setting, from oncology patients to recovering addicts. But it’s equally helpful for anyone dealing with anxiety, chronic pain, jet lag or the exhaustion from overwork, says Gillian Cilibrasi, the program’s director.

Classes begin with aromatherapy before moving into progressive relaxation meditation, reclining yoga postures and Reiki, as well as gentle movement to loosen up the body and aid digestion. Anybody can take this class. No flexibility required.

Info: $25 per class. Various locations across Los Angeles,


Clarity in focus


Resistance training is a proven mental health booster, but just imagine how much better you’d feel if you paired it with some breath work to wind down and get a little clarity at the end of the day.

Fitness studio, Different Breed Strength & Conditioning in Culver City, has begun offering two-hour sessions each month that combine a circuit training workout, wellness discussion and a half-hour breath work session led by coach Rob Starbuck. There is also a Thursday evening standalone breath work class that follows the studio’s signature circuit classes.

Info: $30 per workshop,


Under the influence


The tiny DTLA studio Mystic Rebel Healing Collective offers a full slate of yoga and meditation classes, but one of its most popular offerings is its stoned yoga sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays, which provide a more social outlet for those who would otherwise be smoking weed and holding asanas in their own living room.

Occasionally, Stoned Yoga becomes a big themed event, such as the recent “Create” session, which started with CBD tea and art projects, followed by a community smoke and a restorative yoga and meditation session set to a live DJ. And with a whole room full of yogis with the munchies there is of course an after-party with tacos that allows attendees to connect with other cannabis “rebels.”

Price: $20 per class, $150 for a 10-class pack with discounts for new members. Around $40 for the themed events. 453 S. Spring St., Suite 641, Los Angeles,


Can’t make it to a studio?


Still want to indulge in a little self-care at home? One popular wellness app we like for its kickboxing and circuit training workout — Sanity & Self — also includes de-stressing guided meditations, audio prompts for journaling, self-massage how-to and quick tips covering such things as time management, confidence, mindfulness building and how to set healthful boundaries.

Info: App is free. Premium content subscription is $9.99 a month.


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