It’s fitness mania these days. Like, fitness is more fashionable than fashion. To the point where you wonder what things were even like before. And then you remember. Oh yeah! Before, you could be chill half the year and then when May came around (or for people me, June) you’d start flipping out thinking about putting your bikini on and you’d go straight to eating salad and doing sit ups.
Aaaah, the good old days. Ok, I’m not saying it was ideal in terms of life balance, ok. But the fact is, now the pressure is ON 365 days a year. I think, as with anything, there are positives and negatives. The positive is that we’re all becoming more active and super well-educated about nutrition and when you get down to it, it has to be better than the rock n’ roll look of being skinny and pale with a cigarette in your hand and an empty look in your eyes.
But on the less positive side, there’s a kind of hysteria around being healthy and the impossibly skinny and muscular bodies that are presented to us as being desirable, normal, and attainable if you just try harder (you’re so lazy!). And all the weird juicing trends along with it.
And at a certain point, you have to be honest. Being as skinny and muscular as the dreamy girls on Instagram—that’s a job. Or at the very least, an obsession.
That’s how I saw things living in New York. I’d tell myself “Ok, it’s a bit crazy, this obsession with exercise and kale (well actually, kale is over, cauliflower is the new cool vegetable) but it’s a trend, it’s going to pass, it’s nice, so hey, let’s enjoy it while it lasts, find inspiration in it and give it a try.”
And then suddenly I went to spend a month in LA. And here, hey girrrrrl: welcome to the NEXT LEVEL.
Chris and I understood it pretty fast when, on the first day we arrived, we dropped off our suitcases at our bungalow in Venice Beach, got behind the steering wheel of our rental SUV , and headed straight to Whole Foods for some groceries .
Whole Foods is an organic supermarket that’s so nice it’s almost becoming better than Instagram for socializing. You run into your friends there, you check out new nutrition trends (and indulge into a bit of real life Tender. Oh yeah, and sometimes you even get groceries.
In New York, Whole Foods is mostly populated with hurried hipsters, moms (and dads!!!) who want “the best for their kids” and the occasional lost hippie, scratching their chins at the astronomical prices.
In LA, it’s simple – at first glance, you’d think Whole Foods was a gym.
EVERYONE is wearing exercise clothes. The men are wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, the women are wearing yoga pants, sneakers or flip flops, and a little jacket because “it’s soooo cold in LA in January!!!” And not only is everyone wearing exercise clothes, but on top of it all, EVERYONE IS SUPER GOOD LOOKING.
That’s how it is in LA. It’s the city of fitness. Delicious, healthy restaurants abound, and there’s a yoga or pilates class on every corner. People take their bodies super seriously and, I repeat, at the risk of sounding like Zoolander : THEY’RE SUPER GOOD LOOKING.
Any normal girl would feel like she was lagging behind and not being healthy enough. Especially since, unlike in New York, you can’t really make up for it by being cool. Your clothes can’t save you here. Most of the time, everyone spends their lives in lycra.
In LA, coolness is well-hidden. You have to understand the city to find it.
It’s funny, actually. Unlike in New York, with its seasons and insane density per square foot, in LA, the weather is constantly beautiful, there’s lots of space, and the beach and mountains are never very far away. It’s a real outdoor culture. For example, I was still there this weekend, and no one asked me if I wanted to go to brunch like in New York.
List of activities my friends proposed?
- Go on a hike.
- Go for a walk on the beach.
- Go for a bike ride by the sea.
- Go surfing.
- Go see a guru.
Ok the guru has nothing to do with the rest, and I would have liked to go, but I had too much work. Anyway, that’s what weekends are like in LA. So there’s no time to be unhealthy, and tons of time to admire your abs and ogle other people’s bubble butts.
I have to admit, even with my French cynicism, it’s pretty inspiring. Oh and by the way, sticking to the TMI vibe of this post, here are the demons we got rid of while slowly adapting to our LA lifestyle:
- Ok first of all, on the first day, Chris went to buy a surfboard and skateboard and he started surfing twice a day. And he’d skateboard to get to the surfing.
- I got into the habit of running on the beach, since it was only two minutes from our house.
- I bought a bottle of wine, of course, because I’m me after all. But I didn’t open it! Never once in three weeks.
- Since I didn’t open the wine, I didn’t smoke any cigarettes. The only time I smoked was one cigarette after a dinner with friends.
- I rented a bicycle and started doing everything on my bike. Unlike in New York, where it’s -12 degrees half the year and any car driver’s only goal is to murder everybody (which made me give up biking) – in LA everyone drives slowly and they stop religiously any time there’s a pedestrian (it’s easy, though, because there are zero pedestrians. I actually wonder if drivers stop simply because they’re shocked to see a pedestrian rather than doing it to be polite).
- I downloaded Mind Body Online (an app for scheduling exercise classes) and started trying out Pilates classes in my area. There were classes everywhere, and that’s how I (finally) fell in love with Pilates.
- Like, I actually wanted to go.
And, miracle of miracles, we cooked at home. EVERY DAY. No. I don’t know if you realize – for any New Yorker, cooking is a heroic act. I don’t really know why, but it’s probably got something to do with the fact that getting groceries is a heroic act. Other than the few exceptional people (like parents, who are basically heroes of daily life) who have mastered the art of ordering groceries online, in New York, it’s always a pain. We don’t have cars, so you end up at the supermarket with your arms full and you always end up forgetting something / not being able to carry 65% of the things you need, so you end up going home with an avocado and a roll of toilet paper wondering what delicious meal you’re going to cook with that. And even when you do manage to get groceries, most of them end up forgotten in the fridge because it’s too easy to be tempted by last minute dinner invitations or a late night Seamless delivery.
After two weeks, we were like two different people. Not yet SUPER GOOD LOOKING (hahaha)(JUST WAIT) but we were definitely eating better and our cheeks were rosy from the ocean air.
You have to admit, there are times when all that good health can hurt your eyes it shines so bright. If you spend too much time in certain neighborhoods, LA can quickly turn into a mini Stepford Wives of young, beautiful women in yoga pants taking their children to school in their shiny SUVs.
But I really liked that energy. Since we were based in Venice, I still had access to a rather interesting mix of people. I could do everything on foot or by bike. I loved having such easy access to nature. In that sense, it reminded me of my native Corsica. I also liked having a car. It’s crazy how much you can do when you have a car!
And finally, I also really liked the style of the girls here. There’s a real sense of style that resonated with me. I’ve always had a weakness for brands like James Perse, lovely tee-shirt dresses (that you can really only wear with a perfect body, typical of LA, cool but not so cool) but now fashion is blossoming in a totally new way in LA and I can’t wait to tell you about it because I think it’s in response to a new desire we all have for fashion that’s simpler, more intimate, less flashy, and most of all, less based on trends, which don’t mean much anymore. But I’m getting off topic—I’ll tell you more about that later.
In the meantime, I hope to bring back a little bit of that spirit to New York with me, and that desire to live a simpler, healthy life. It did me an enormous amount of good—I think it even changed something in me deep down, and I’m really going to miss being able to go sit by the ocean whenever the New York (imported via email, text and Skype) stress gets overwhelming.
Translated by Andrea Perdue