When Curves Larchmont closed at the end of January, I was left suddenly gym-less. Then a friend and I took a tour of the Anderson Munger Family YMCA on Oxford and 3rd, and I was instantly hooked.
The building is new. The pool is new, not to mention clean. There is a basketball court on the roof, which my twelve-year-old son instantly loved. And there is an impressive array of top-of-the line equipment in the gym: strength-training machines that focus on isolating every conceivable muscle group, and cardio machines that go beyond the usual treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. I now have an uneasy relationship with an ominous, slightly futuristic-looking Arc trainer which has such aptly named workouts as ‘glute camp.’
What really makes the Y zing, however, are the staff and the instructors. My weekly workout routine now includes bootcamp and cardio boxing. I tried both with trepidation (yoga and Zumba I get, but boxing?) and discovered what so many have before me: new forms of exercise aren’t just good for my body, they’re good for my brain. My endorphins practically whistle every time I strap on the boxing gloves.
Lisa Pegnato, who teaches cardio boxing at the Y, has been boxing since the early 1990’s and teaching the sport since 1998. “I love it because it combines speed, power, grace, strength training and musicality. It really is a whole body workout,” she explains. “A lot of people have strange ideas about what boxing is. As a fitness activity, to me it’s just fun.” Teaching at this Y, she says, is fantastic. “You have to be able to teach people at all different levels. It’s work, but it ultimately makes you a better teacher.”
The Y family membership comes with a host of kid-focused activities. The Teen Fit program for kids 12-16 includes four sessions on strength and cardio equipment with one of the trainers. Kalan Booker trained my son over four Sundays and still thoughtfully mentors him whenever we come. “I love Teen Fit,” he says. “We’re really engaged with the members and all of us have to be comfortable working with kids as much as adults.”
The 7am cardio boxing class draws an eclectic crowd: a couple of young, twenty-something Latinas; a muscular Mexican-American man in his 50s; two Caucasian women of the same age; and a Korean lady in her 70s who appears to have much better moves than I do. I feel entirely in my comfort zone. “It’s so important that people move,” Lisa says as she puts on a James Brown song. “It’s essential. So just move once, try something.”
Anya Grottel-Brown is a recent transplant to LA from the East Coast. Her series, The Newcomer Journals, is about all things local that are new, different and same.
Larchmont Buzz: New Anderson-Munger YMCA Opens