A-listers have the means to hire personal trainers (yes, plural)—so when they actually hit up a fitness class instead of a private session, it must be good, right? That’s what I set out to discover. I traveled across LA, from Santa Monica to Hancock Park, to test out celeb-approved workouts (a great personal sacrifice, given the always-horrendous Los Angeles traffic). Alas, I did not end up with J.Lo’s booty by the end of the experiment—but I did discover some butt muscles I’d never used before. Read on for my honest reviews. (Spoiler alert: There was an abnormal amount of dancing.)
Sweat It Out
Celebrity fans: Karlie Kloss, Taylor Swift, Irina Shayk
This low-impact class (with cardio) targets small muscle groups. That means two- to three-pound weights, sliders and, yes, some dancing. When I walked into the studio (a couple minutes late, natch), everyone was hopping around in perfect harmony to a Selena Gomez song. I felt a little out of place—my dancing is more like flailing—but forgot all my self-consciousness as the class went on.
At the end, I was only slightly sweaty but felt longer and leaner (though one glance in the mirror put that notion to rest).
The small, sleek studio is right next to Sweetgreens (score!) and has amenities from Ouai, Frank Body and Epicuren.
Celebrity fans: Michelle Williams, Busy Philipps
This private studio is tucked away behind the founder's home in Hancock Park. It feels super exclusive, but once I walked in the vibe was incredibly welcoming. I instantly felt better about testing the limits of my coordination on a trampoline.
My class was taught by Lauren Kleban, the founder/former professional dancer whose insane body brought to mind this scene from Crazy Ex Girlfriend (and now I'm never going to be invited back).
The class is a combination of muscle sculpting, dance cardio, and trampolining—the latter of which was my favorite, the former of which worked butt muscles I didn't even know I had.
After an hour—which flew by—I felt accomplished, toned and willing to make the trek to the studio from Marina del Rey to take the class again.
Celebrity fans: Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon
But when I jumped into the workout (I was late again, of course), I felt self-conscious only for a heartbeat before I began dancing with abandon.
I looked 100 percent ridiculous, but I was into it.
It combines plyometrics (a form of jump training) with choreographed dance moves so you don't even really feel like you're working out—and according to the trainers, you can burn an insane amount of calories (like 700).
Body By Simone
Celebrity fans: Chrissy Teigen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
The first thing I noticed when I walked into my first Body By Simone class (yes, late, okay, let me live) was that everyone knew exactly what they were doing. Which is a testament to how loyal people are to this studio and to Simone de la Rue, its founder.
After some choreographed dance moves, the class transitioned into leg work with the sliders and some core work on the mats. Since I took the Hips, Thighs and Buns class, it was more about sculpting—and those tiny, controlled movements are hard!
Celebrity fans: Jessica Alba, Jenna Dewan Tatum
Guys, Cycle House is no joke. I've taken many a cycling class in my seven years in Los Angeles, and this one was by far the hardest/best. (I actually got to work out with Jessica Alba here for her birthday charity ride for Baby2Baby with Sweaty Betty.)
It. Was. Intense. The lights were perfectly dim, the music selection was killer and the instructors (Nichelle Hines and Aaron Hines) were phenomenal. I left it all out on that metaphorical hill, and emerged dripping in so much sweat my entire ponytail was drenched.
Celebrity fans: Ashley Greene, Nina Dobrev
I'll be honest, what drew me to Rise Nation was that classes are only 30 minutes instead of the usual hour, but still promise an intense calorie burn.
The club-like atmosphere was honestly a little much for me (I think I was a touch sensitive to all the flashing lights), but I did feel strong and badass climbing up that imaginary cliff.
Overall, I like that you use your upper and lower body in tandem, you don't have to do any fancy dance moves (literally just push, pull and step on the climber) and it's over quickly.
The Studio MDR
Celebrity fans: Nina Dobrev, Candice Accola, Kayla Ewell
In my tenure as an Angeleno, I've been to my share of Pilates classes—and none of them kicked my butt (and abs and legs) as hard as The Studio MDR. It's a brutal combo of Pilates and strength training, all done on this contraption called the Megaformer.
The name of the game is sculpting, aka focused muscle contractions. It burns, but afterward I was on an exercise high.
Celebrity fans: Jennifer Garner, Charlotte McKinney
Box Union is basically SoulCycle meets boxing. The lights are dimmed and the music is heavy on that bass—making the whole experience kind of sexy (I mean, if you find punching a bag until you're literally standing in a puddle of your own sweat sexy, which I do). The only thing I was kind of bummed about was I didn't get to kick anything, but as my boyfriend explained, you can't kick people in boxing, so that's on me.