Before and After Clients
personal trainer Beginning weight: 131 Present weight: 113 Time: 8 weeks
Mandy: Beginning weight: 129 Ending
weight: 111 Time: 8 weeks
Climbing for Your Health
For a fresh, free, seriously butt-kicking workout,
take advantage of LA’s plain air stairmasters
Jibril Raymo hates stair-climbing machines. “They’re boring. They
feel like you’re not going anywhere,” says Raymo, a former UCLA
football player. But to stay in top physical condition, he needs the
abdominal and lower-body workout that stair climbing provides.
So instead of trudging to nowhere in a stale, sweaty gym, Raymo runs
up and down real stairs—170 of them to be precise. “It’s not like
standing in one place,” says Raymo, as he catches his breath after
his twelfth summit of the
Santa Monica Canyon stairway.
He takes a pull from one of the myriad water bottles tucked like so
many mushrooms in the flowerbeds. “You get to the top and see the
view of the ocean and the mountains. You feel like you’ve
accomplished something.” And he has—those 12 roundtrips are a
workout than climbing up and down
the Empire State Building.
Raymo is just one of thousands of locals who’ve discovered that LA’s
public stairways aren’t just a way to get up a hill; they’re also an
Stair climbing can effectively strengthen all the major muscle
groups in the lower body: the gluteals, the hamstrings, the calf
muscles and the quadriceps. Stair climbing improves cardio-vascular
fitness and can be an effective way to burn calories.
In many respects, real stairs provide better
exercise than climbing machines.
“Doing actual stairs encompasses a wider range of motion than stair
Jason Kozma, a
personal trainer in Santa Monica.
“You burn more calories because you’re working the hamstrings and
the gluteus maximus,” two areas only minimally affected by the short
range of motion on stair machines. And on real
stairs, you can’t
cheat by leaning on the machine.
Stair climbing is especially beneficial for women who want to
prevent osteoporosis. Bearing your weight against gravity and
climbing stairs provides a very effective stimulus for bone
formation. And it’s terrific for elderly people
“because it prevents their lower-body muscles from atrophying,” says
In fact, just about anybody (except those afflicted with knee
problems) can benefit from stair climbing. People of all ages and
abilities adhere to the same basic etiquette: stay to the right,
pass to the left.
“For me, jogging it is dogging it,” says Rick Valdez, a 17-year-old
senior at St. Monica High who sprints all the way up the stairway
between Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica. Meanwhile, a
70-something couple keeps a slow and steady walking pace.
Real stair climbing is environmentally friendly, too. No electricity
is needed to power a machine. Sunny skies supply the lighting. And
ocean breezes, not fossil-fueled air conditioners, do the cooling.
Stair climbing requires no sophisticated equipment or expensive
health club membership. The City of Los Angeles has nearly 200
stairways open to the public, according to the Department of Public
Works. And they’re all free.
“This is my gym,” says Marie-Claire Edouarzin, a chiseled make-up
artist from Hollywood. Once a week, she drives to Pacific Palisades
and climbs up and down 15 times. “I don’t like doing it, but it
works fast,” says Edouarzin.
For first-time stair climbers, sore quadriceps are literally a
“down” side to working out on real stairs. Going down stairs as well
as up them builds the thigh strength needed to brake yourself from
falling—a benefit you just can’t get from a machine that only goes
For them, Bryant recommends quad stretches like bending the knee
back so that your foot touches your rear end. He also suggests
stretching your hamstrings (stand on one leg and raise the other to
a higher step) and calves (put the balls of both feet on one step
and drop your heels below your toes) before any stair-climbing
by John Rosenthal
John Rosenthal, a fitness writer in Santa Monica, takes the stairs
instead of the elevator whenever possible. His work has appeared in
Self, Shape, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los
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