The Workout Everyone Is Doing in L.A. Right Now



I first heard of the VersaClimber about four years ago whilst sat in a juice bar in London's Soho with Matt Damon's personal trainer, Jason Walsh. I was working at Women's Health at the time, and he was near to opening a new fitness studio called Rise Nation in Los Angeles. He told me that in the classes, everyone works out to music whilst on static climbing machines (gulp).

It sounded bizarre, but the thing is, whoever is responsible for getting "deadly weapon" Jason Bourne fit has my attention. Fast-forward to November 2015 when I was in Los Angeles and just starting at Byrdie: I pulled on my kit and hot-footed it to the (then new) Rise Nation studio on La Cienega Boulevard. In this city, people play hard and work out even harder.

Rise Nation was the first studio to put the VersaClimber under the spotlight (literally, when the class starts, the blinds automatically lower to reveal a nightclub-esque atmosphere). It's a little like a cycling class; the room is filled with numbered VersaClimbers that you're on for the 30-minute session. I found myself positioned right in front of the trainer, a bubbly lady, who, as it turned out, shared my love for pop and R&B. Each trainer has a different vibe, and whether it's their banging disco tunes or yoga background, you can find a class to suit your mood and musical tastes.

With my feet strapped into the pedals and my fists snugly cupped around the handles, I climbed to the beat of the music. Just like with a Spin class, the moves are determined by the beat. Sometimes you're in a squat position (great for the bum), and other times your hands are gripping the handles from beneath to work out your biceps. It's a great workout for anyone sat down all day; I have a damaged coccyx, so not being sat on a bike saddle (the world's most uncomfortable seat) was a joy. It was fun, too. Sure, it was hard work, I was out of breath and sweaty the whole time, but I enjoyed it far more than any workout I had done before. When I left L.A., I hoped the VersaClimber would follow me across the pond one day.