Haute Fit: The Real “LA Fitness”

By Damon Mackey, Certified Group Fitness Leader and Consultant

My recent trip to Los Angeles was filled with shopping, food, music, and other fun-filled activity. It then dawned on me why most Californians are in such great shape. Fitness is part of their lifestyle. With fitness facilities like Planet Fitness, 24 Hr Fitness, LA Fitness, and other local fitness studios, there is no reason not to be fit; and I found out that the real LA Fitness is an experience that goes by the name of Culver City Stairs – located in Baldwin Hills, California.

The structure, which is the former site of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir, is an outdoor staircase designed into the trails leading up to the Baldwin Hills Scenic View. The staircase is 715 feet high with each step ranging from 20 inches, with the shortest step being 3.5 inches. Looking up, it appears to be the stairway to Heaven. So my BFF Eric Smiley, who has done the steps a few times, challenged the fitness guru to the climb. I first thought this would be easy, since I occasionally tackle the stair climber at the gym…NOT the same.

First there is a mini trail, steep and sandy, leading to the stairs – and even that was a workout. After making it to the stairs I took a breath, and Eric and I began our climb. While climbing, I thought “this is not for the weak at heart”. As each step seemed to take on its own character, we finally made it to the top ten minutes later. The top landing provides an area for activities such as stretching, squats, crunches, or as we preferred – jump roping. To look down the staircase could make one even more intimidated, but even so,  we decided to take the trail down. which is every bit as challenging and steep – just without the steps.

Essentially speaking, who needs a gym when you can do these monstrous steps a few times per week. The staircase proved to be a total body workout providing great conditioning for the heart, and a real test of your fit-ability. Even if you’re not in LA, and live in or are visiting the metro-Detroit area, try going up and down the Joe Louis Arena steps a few times. Once you have mastered that, take a trip to LA and try the Culver City Stairs and let me know your thoughts.


Now that’s real LA fitness!


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