By survey, three of Angelenos’ top New Year’s resolutions are to exercise more, lose weight, and save money. We have a great way for you to do all of them at the same time and have fun doing it.
You can save money by canceling your gym membership and taking your workout to the streets of LA. I live near a Cross Fit Gym and every day I’m dodging thier members running down the sidewalk carrying medicine balls and other heavy objects. I can’t help but wonder why they are paying for a gym membership only to be told to go run on the streets!
Actually, everything you need for a full and complete workout is free on the streets and in the parks of Los Angeles.
I call it the free LA workout. The largest of these resources are the abundant “secret” or “hidden” staircases around Los Angeles. They once served to take residents from their homes on the top of the hills down to the trolley car stops below. Now many Angelenos have discovered the staircases offer the best cardio and “leg day” workouts to be found. Nothing like running up a staircase over 200 steps long to tone up the lower body and give you some good aerobic exercise. Some people bring along their free weights too and make it a more complete workout.
There are also a number of hiking trails, bike paths and there are even some free outdoor gyms with workout equipment of various types. Literally everything you need to keep your fitness goals. We’ll break this up into groups.
Leg Day: The LA Hidden Staircases
The Micheletorena Stairs: This is perhaps one of the most famous of all of LA’s “secret” staircases thanks to the giant heart painted on them by artist Corinne Carrey and Instagram. A quick jog up the two long sections of stairs is guaranteed to get your heart pounding and your blood pumping! Located in Silverlake you can find the Micheletorena Stairs at 3400 Sunset Blvd.
The Murray Stairs: If you find too many people beat you to the Micheltorena Stairs, the Murray Stairs are almost directly across the street at 3229 Sunset Blvd. This staircase is 90 steps in length and the stairs have been painted to resemble the keyboard of a piano. They were also painted by artist Corinne Carrey. There is only one section of stairs here, but you can run up and down them a few times to make up for the lack of steps.
The Music Box Steps: Not far from the two staircases above are the Music Box Steps. Unlike the Micheletorena Stairs and the Murray Stairs, they haven’t been painted. But they do have an official “Music Box Steps” sign pointing to them and a marble plaque at the base honoring the steps as a historic filming location.
The Music Box Steps are the long, long, long staircase used in filming the 1932 Laurel and Hardy comedy, The Music Box. The comedy surrounds the misadventures the duo encountered trying to get a large piano up the staircase. Unless you’re in great shape, once you jog up these stairs you’ll wonder how the comedians ever pulled it off with a piano!
The base of the Music Box Steps is located at 936 Vendome Street, just a couple of blocks south of Sunset Blvd.
The Swan Stairway: This is another of the stairways that have been painted, this time by artist Evelyn Leigh. The lower section is 77 steps and the upper is 110 steps. At the top is another famed Instagram spot, the “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” wall. The Swan Steps are at 2958 Swan Place.
The Meadow Valley Stairway: This staircase was painted by artist Kimberly King. The 93 step staircase is in Silverlake near the Lyric Hyperion Theatre and Cafe at Trader Joe’s. The address is 3355 Fernwood Avenue.
The Baxter Street Stairs: In nearly echo park, the Baxter Steps provide you 231 steps of thigh building climb. The are located at 1501 Baxter St.
Hoover Walk Stairway: This stairway isn’t that long. Halfway up the stairs split off in two directions alongside a wall which has been painted with the Fluid City Rising mural by Ricardo Mendoza. It’s located near 1652 Hoover Street.
Echo Park: This beautiful park with a lake offers scenic surroundings, gardens and a view of downtown Los Angeles while you jog or bike along the path that surrounds the lake. You could also rent one of the paddle boats and work your way around the lake. If you’re doing it solo, your legs will feel it! And to get your stair climbing in, there is a long staircase on the west side of the lake across Glendale Blvd. The park is located at 751 Echo Park Ave.
The Bunker Hill Steps: If you live or work downtown, this is the place to get your legs in shape. This beautiful, modern staircase has a tiered waterfall running between two sets of stairs. The base of the Bunker Hill Stairs is at 633 W 5th Street. When you arrive at the top of Bunker Hill you’ll be among the tallest skyscrapers in Los Angeles.
The Los Feliz Secret Stairs: This staircase doesn’t have a name. There is a beautiful stone entrance to the steps though right where North Brenda Street meets Cromwell Ave. If you’re up to more climbing, there is a second leg to the steps that you can find to your left on the opposite side of Glendower Ave. While you are catching your breath at the top, take in the breathtaking views of Los Angeles (sorry, bad pun).
The Saroyan Stairs: This beautiful staircase has two rows of granite steps. They are separated with planters that double as benches. Once you reach the top of the 148 steps on the initial run, you can find a continuation of the staircase on Belden Drive. Keep your eyes peeled. A number of staircase spring off the side streets you will cross. Access the Saroyan Stairs on Woodshire Drive just west of Beachwood Drive.
The Santa Monica Stairs: The Santa Monica Stairs offer the advantage of ocean views as you get your cardio workout. They are located at 4th St and Adelaide Drive.
The Culver City Stairs: Once you reach the top of this 282 step staircase, the reward is a 360 degree view over Los Angeles. The Culver City Stairs are also known as the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook located at 6300 Hetzler Rd in Culver City.
You’ll find that all of the LA staircases have become haunts for fitness buffs. At each of them I’ve gone to I see someone in sweats running the steps.
Other Free LA Workouts
Griffith Park: This is 4,300 acres of forested grassy hiking trails, incredible views and hiking access to the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory and the Griffith Park Zoo.
Ferndell Nature Trail: A beautiful wooded hiking trail at the base of Griffith Park alongside a babbling brook. As you go farther up it turns into E. Observatory Trail and W. Observatory Trail. These branch off into other trails and you can eventually reach the Griffith Park Observatory. You can access the trail by turning onto Ferndell Drive just east of Western Ave on Los Feliz Blvd. It starts right near where you turn onto Ferndell, but you can access it at about any point along Ferndell Drive.
Runyon Canyon: Runyon Canyon is a three mile look. Dress in your most stylish workout clothes. It’s known to be frequented by celebrities. It also features a dog park. Access the Runyon Canyon at 2000 N Fuller Ave. There is so much to know about this area and the hikes available that we suggest you check out the info on Hikespeak.com.
La Cienega Park: Located in Beverly Hills, this park has it all for your workout. Their outdoor fitness pavilion has all the workout machines you could desire, free of charge. You’ll also find tennis courts, playgrounds for the kids and more. It’s located at 8400 Gregory Way in Beverly Hills.
Yvonne B Burke Park: This is an 18 station par fitness course. Each station provides detailed instructions for the workout at that station. There is also a bike path running through it. It’s located at 4350 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey. Parking is available for $1.00 per hour in lots all along the area. The course includes separate stretching stations and great views of the marina. What’s not to love?
The Original Muscle Beach: The Original Muscle Beach is just south of and below the Santa Monica Pier. It’s where the whole body building movement started. What remains here is primarily gymnastic, rope climbing, and acrobatic bars. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to work out there at least once. Be a part of that history and see if you like it.
Muscle Beach Venice: Muscle Beach on the Venice Boardwalk is where you want to go if you are into some serious pumping iron There is a gated weight pen platform and a sandbox with gymnastic, rope climbing, and acrobatic bars. There is a charge to go into the weight pen of $10.00 per day, but not for the sandbox. 1800 Ocean Front Walk, the Venice Boardwalk at 18th St.
The Strand: This is the pedestrian/bike path that runs a 22 mile course along the Pacific Ocean from Will Rogers State Beach south to Torrance. Access it from your closest beach and enjoy the ride.
If you know of other places where you can enjoy a free workout in Los Angeles please give us a shout out in the comments. Once you try out a few of these spots for your workout, you’ll find that there are places to get your workout free almost anywhere you are in LA. So go right on ahead and give yourself that fit new body for the new year while you save money too!
More photos after the break…