7 Hush-Hush Gyms Becoming Hollywood Favorites
Boutique trainer-only workout sanctums lure the industry with perks and, more important, privacy.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Boldfaced names increasingly are sweating without sweating the paparazzi waiting outside or a camera-phone-enabled jock on the next treadmill.
For years, West Hollywood's trainer-only THE GYM ON NEMO (9041 Nemo St.) has been a go-to choice, with owner Fedele De Santis welcoming the likes of Cameron Diaz and Charlize Theron to his discreet storefront for Pilates and boxing alike. Over on La Brea, the no-nonsense ULTRA BODY FITNESS (828 N. La Brea Ave.) lures such stars as Shia LaBeouf and Chris Pine.
More exclusive rivals are cropping up. Gunnar Peterson -- who has rocked the bodies of Jennifer Lopez and Hugh Jackman -- quietly has run an unlisted-number space (9975 S. Santa Monica Blvd.) for the past three years above the Sonya Dakar spa in Beverly Hills, where valet parking and protein bars are complimentary. Another big-time trainer with his own gym is Jason Walsh, who has worked with Justin Timberlake and WME's Patrick Whitesell. "My facility is very private -- it's good for people that need an inviting and calm environment," he says of his RISE MOVEMENT in WeHo (8906 Melrose Ave.).
Opened in mid-2010, LEAF WELLNESS STUDIO (1617 Broadway St., Santa Monica) handles just 12 clients at any time and insists on a three-month commitment ($3,600 for 24 classes). Leaf, whose clients include Rock of Ages up-and-comer Diego Boneta and XXX writer Rich Wilkes, also runs a Lifestyle Transformation program with nutrition counseling and personal coaching.
Even more cloistered: Trainer Danny Musico (Ron Fair, Doug Ellin) has created a gym at the chichi Crescent Hotel (403 N. Crescent Drive) in Beverly Hills, where he keeps a furnished three-bedroom penthouse at his disposal for those who want to focus round-the-clock on sculpting their physique. (Call it the lats of luxury.) It's a steep fee for clients to bulk up or slim down while living there, but Musico believes it's worth it. "If a production company wants the star of their movie to look his or her best, $25,000 per month is not that much money," says Musico. "The suite is a training camp; I can police them there."
The hottest gym in town at the moment, however, might be the nearby referral-only BUNKER (465 N. Roxbury Drive). The aptly named windowless basement space, reachable via a secure parking garage, is hidden down an alley. Owner Adam Ernster, a Peterson protege, allows only up to three trainers and their clients inside at a time -- the extreme exclusivity is a draw for the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and ICM's Carol Goll.
But not all trainers believe that intimate gyms are best. "Gyms with people around really inspire people to work hard," says celebrity trainer Ashley Borden. "I like the energy there."
ON-SET PERK: In May, Will Smith trucked a shiny 55-foot stand-alone gym trailer to Men in Black III's Manhattan filming that was the talk of Soho for several days. Smith is said to own the mobile workout unit himself. However, for the past few years, trainers have outfitted equipment-packed trucks that are rented to productions, and the recession hasn't killed demand for them. One of the more coveted is the mobile unit offered by trainer Ramona Braganza (Jessica Alba, Halle Berry). "Hugh Jackman trained in there to become Wolverine for the first X-Men," says Braganza. "On The A-Team, everybody from Jessica Biel and Liam Neeson to Bradley Cooper trained in the trailer. It makes it easy." (Cost: $2,500-$3,000 a week.) Another roving ab lab is The Muscle Truck ($1,800-$2,000 a week, themuscletruck.com), run by Valerie Waters (Cindy Crawford, Benicio Del Toro). The 18-wheeler -- designed for on-location use by Jim Carrey -- boasts soft lighting and $50,000 worth of equipment. It's often a boon to the rest of the cast and crew. "In my experience," says Waters, "my clients have allowed other actors or people on the production to use the trailer as well." -- G.B.