Friday, November 13, 2009


by Bob Speck, Director of Sales

I live in Los Angeles, and I walk. I’ll give you time to process that…

I live in L.A., and I walk. As a very recent transplant, walking is not an alien concept to me. However, tell the average Angelino that you walk, and your admission will likely be met with a combination of disbelief and pity.

You walk?

They ask, their upper lips twitching ever so slightly.

You mean that you hike, like Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park?

They ask, some visibly choking back tears.

For you out-of-towners, Runyon Canyon is a barren crag in the Hollywood Hills, a climb up which is a level of physical activity usually reserved for prisoners of war on forced marches. This little fact aside, it is unfathomably popular with the L.A. fit set and their dogs. And you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen an impossibly thin would-be actress dragging her hyperventilating French bulldog up a narrow mountain pass. Griffith Park is a sprawling complex consisting of a zoo, an amphitheater, two museums, an observatory and acre after acre of relatively unspoiled wilderness that annually busts into flames threatening wildlife and the lives and homes of near by residents.

No, I walk. Like to work or the store or dinner.

Gape-mouthed stares usually follow. The kind of reaction one would expect after confessing to regularly appearing in pornography or having six toes on one foot.

I guess some background is in order. I have recently arrived in L.A. after living in New York City for the last 20 years and prior to that a brief stay abroad in Paris. My driver’s license having long ago expired, I haven’t been behind the wheel in any meaningful way in almost two decades. In the past, this has proved a minor inconvenience at worst, my previous philosophy being something along the lines of “If you can’t get there by subway it’s probably not worth the trip, thank you very much.” Now I’m some kind of mythological beast that people have always heard about but never seen, a pudgy unicorn ambling east on Santa Monica Blvd. near La Brea.

“So what does any of this have to do with theater?” I hear you ask. Well I work at the Pantages. The Pantages is in Hollywood. Hollywood is in L.A., and L.A. means fitness. And what does any of this have to do with fitness? The sad truth is not a whole lot. Because even though I don’t drive here in the place that gave the world the right turn on red, I walk less than I did in New York. This isn’t because I’ve become even more slothful than I was before (granted, being somewhere with my feet up eating cookies is my idea of a good time, but even I have my limits) but because some strange conspiracy of climate and landscape almost forces one to ride. Even if the vehicle of your transport is *gasp* a city bus. This is, after all, the town where the swanker gyms offer valet parking to spare their members the arduous sojourn from the parking lot to the front door. Of course, once inside these “fitness centers” the very people who couldn’t park their own cars push themselves to the very limits of human endurance in classes like Power Yoga, Power Pilates or Power Spinning. The very thought of which makes me want to take a Power Nap.

I know that for all my snarkiness, if I wish to reach a level of fitness that allows me to tie my shoes without getting winded, then I will have to sacrifice myself to one of these chrome-plated, neon lit temples of sweat. I just have to find the right one for me, one that best suites my personality. A gym with comfy chairs. And ... cookies?

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