Go Inside L.A.’s Newest Members-Only Health Club, Heimat
Sweat in style.
Across the globe, but especially in Los Angeles, exists a rare breed of fitness buffs that often claim to “live at the gym.” I am not one of those people. Cramped spaces packed with sweaty bodies and dingy locker rooms that lack any level of ambiance or privacy don’t exactly encourage me to linger, which I imagine is exactly the point. That said, Heimat — a new gym-meets-social-club hybrid located in the heart of Hollywood — made me reconsider taking up residence.
Inspired by the fitness center’s name, which translates from German to “the feeling of home,” the 75,000 square-foot space is purposely designed so that you sweat it out and stay a while — if only to enjoy the impressive interiors or curl up on a Frank Gehry Wiggle chair. In addition to state-of-the-art gym equipment and a variety of classes, Heimat boasts a spa, an outdoor pool, a coworking space, and Mother Tongue, a new restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina. Locker rooms outfitted with Dyson blow dryers and spacious saunas lined with Himalayan salt add to the allure.
“Whereas most fitness or wellness clubs are built on the idea of discipline, sacrifice, and dedication, Heimat challenges that ideal by also offering amenities that allow our members to take care of their bodies in a luxurious way,” says Sebastian Schoepe, president and CEO of RSG Group North America, a fitness empire that oversees brands such as Gold’s Gym, John Reed, and McFit. “Why shouldn’t indulgence be part of any good wellness routine?” (When it comes to holding a plank or picking up the pace during a spin class, I wholeheartedly agree that there is no better dangling carrot than a cheeseburger or a cocktail — both available on level four of Heimat)
The concept of indulgence also extends to Heimat’s interiors. Inco Media, a Berlin-based design agency led by creative director and CEO Christian Gröschel, was tasked with adding aesthetic appeal to floors one through three where exercise and recovery are the primary focuses. The result, which Schoepe describes as “very sleek, clean, and sophisticated,” stands in stark contrast to floors four and five, which are characterized by bold color and playful patterns — both signatures of world-renowned interior architect and designer, Martin Brudnizki. Luxe materials (including Calcutta marble, terrazzo, hardwoods, and stone), original art and murals (created by local artists like Abel Macias, Jessalyn Brooks, and Sophia Dherbecourt), and a steady stream of natural light are the common threads that tie every level of the former industrial space together.
“Just like with your own home, you want to be comfortable in every corner and we realized that we didn’t need to sacrifice design to achieve the outcome,” says Schoepe, who wanted all areas — from the weight room to the bar —to “feature an impactful moment,” be it a lighting installation, a design finish, or an art piece. Schoepe is also hoping that Heimat’s holistic philosophy and eye-catching interiors “help motivate and inspire members to stay more engaged with their fitness aspirations.” If the promise of a post-workout catnap on a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe leather daybed (eight of which are available in the relaxation room) doesn’t lure you to the gym, I’m not sure what will.
Here, Schoepe, Brudnizki, and Gröschel take you on a tour of this wellness haven where interior design connoisseurs and fitness afficionados can live (and sweat) in harmony.
The Living Room
“Many places try to make big statements by creating imposing lobbies or other areas to inspire awe, but we wanted members to instantly feel like they were in a safe and comforting space,” says Schoepe of Heimat’s retro-chic check-in area designed to mimic a warm and welcoming home. “Everything inside that room has been curated and thrifted over two years from swap meets, estate sales, and flea markets, and really resembles what a living room could’ve looked like in the 1960s.”
The Cardio Room
“In the training rooms, we [created] specific worlds and atmospheres,” says Gröschel of this sunlit space that visually transports runners to a (well-air-conditioned) desert, complete with a live cactus gallery, cloud-like lighting fixtures, and bamboo flooring with waterfall edges.
The Weight Room
Bicep curls feel better when a gold, laser-cut weight bench is involved. Schoepe says custom Gym80 fitness equipment is “as much a part of the design story as any finish, furnishing, or material,” noting that anything off-the-rack would disrupt the sleek, cosmopolitan vibe. “Everything impacts the perception of the design and experience,” he adds.
The Strength-Training Room
“A small room can appear larger with bright colors and clever lighting toward the ceiling,” says Gröschel, who used translucent, Mondrian-esque panels to break up the large, industrial space. “When the California sunshine breaks through the front window, a flood of light throws itself through the colored glass in the room,” he adds. Don’t miss the “butterfly,” a customized chest fly machine accentuated with turquoise “wings” that flap as you pump up your pectoral muscles.
The Locker Room
You’ll actually want to hit the showers at Heimat. “The building materials themselves — the finely finished, valuable, and interesting surfaces — are our heroes and [are meant to] look like pictures in the room,” says Gröschel of the high-impact hardwoods that look burned or oiled, large stretches of stone, exposed concrete, woven textiles, black steel, brass, and opulent wallpapers that are found throughout the club. Nowhere do these elements shine brighter than the lavish locker rooms lined with marble and mirrors.
The Relaxation Room
This cocoon-like escape is designed to soothe both body and mind. The sun’s harsh rays are reduced to a warm glow thanks to sheer curtains, while palm fronds encased in translucent white glass create a calming scene reminiscent of a “shadow play on a stage,” says Gröschel. Buttery-soft Ludwig Mies van der Rohe leather daybeds provide members with a front row seat.
Set against a backdrop of coral, ochre and vivid turquoise is a show kitchen starring chef Michael Mina, which lends Mother Tongue a “sense of theater and palpable excitement,” says Brudnizki. A cast of supporting characters — including a Calcutta marble bar, English-style molded tiles, and “cool, Mediterranean design details” such as terrazzo, Murano glass, and contemporary, ionic columns — add even more drama to this culinary destination.
Adjacent to the restaurant is the pool and covered terrace featuring a central bar, cozy fire pits, shaded daybeds, and panoramic views. In addition to providing members with a stylish spot to bask in the California sun and show off their freshly sculpted physiques, Brudnizki and his team made sure there were also plenty of opportunities for “privacy and exclusivity.” After all, this is Hollywood.
To soften the raw, industrial bones of the building, Brudnizki and his team installed “fabric-insert ceiling panels; relaxed, linen, Austrian-style blinds; and a pick-n-mix selection of patterned fabrics and upholstered furniture.” An adjacent library accented with an emerald-green bookcase is another place people can catch up on emails between exercise classes.
“We wanted to give our members the opportunity to make fitness and wellness central to their lives without having to compromise on the other things that are important,” says Schoepe. Balance, of course, is the secret to the good life — and striking interior design.