As I wait in line for my frozen Americano, I hear rumors of a new contender in the Hollywood fitness space opening dangerously close to my apartment. A guy in front of me mutters, “It’s like Equinox meets Soho House, with a WeWork twist. I wipe the drool from my chin and ask how anyone can enter such a magical place.
Turns out he was talking about Heimat, a “concept fitness club,” where membership is by application only, which means: send us your Instagram handle and… we’ll call you. On his sleek website, I learn that “heimat” is a German word used to describe “that familiar feeling your heart calls home from.” And with the tagline, “There’s no place like Heimat,” it gives Wizard of Oz, if Oz was a ripped wellness guru.
Membership is $150 per month for those under 25 (lucky ones) and $350 per month for geezers like me (although when I joined that fee was $250/month). I do a quick mental calculation to decipher how many frozen Americanos I’d have to sacrifice to offset this (too much) cost and press “Apply.” I’m 29, gay, and in many ways single – there’s no time to waste.
Two days later, I go around the place. The e-mail asks me to enter through an alley through a golden door. I’m Dorothy, and this is my yellow brick road. I walk into a dimly lit living room/hall lined with open shelving and velvet furniture. There is a fireless fireplace and an alcohol-free bar cart. A man in a tousled pompadour introduces me to a pigtailed woman named Poupy who will be my guide.
I do my best to adopt the posture of someone who lacks nothing as Poupy shows me the kingdom. The first floor houses traditional weightlifting equipment and there is a separate cardio room with cloud-shaped light fixtures. The design is undeniably sexy – the ceilings are high; the equipment is elegant; the walls are marble, mirrored, or painted on the wall, with large windows framing stunning views of… La Brea traffic. “Oh wow!” I blow.
The second floor contains the locker rooms, sauna, and spa, plus a meditation room lined with daybeds and blankets (which, pardon me, but with its proximity to men in various states of undress, looks like a sex room). The third floor has more machines and rooms for classes — Heimat offers everything from boxing to heated yoga — and the fourth is the building’s only public-access floor, home to the chef’s Mother Tongue restaurant. star-studded Michael Mina and the private rooftop pool. and hot tub. The fifth and top floor is a beautiful coworking space where I’m sure to finish my non-existent script.
Bringing me back to the hall, Poupy asks me what I do for work. I inflate my job title to impress her, but she’s already saying goodbye. The man in the pompadour comes back and, spontaneously, I tell him that I am considering converting from Equinox since Heimat is so much closer to my apartment. That’s not entirely true – I’ve been going to Crunch where the air conditioning has been broken for months – but again, I feel compelled to affirm some sort of pedigree. He informs me that they have been overloaded with applications but will be in touch soon. I say thank you, greet Poupy and try not to let the golden door bump into me on my way out.
It’s almost two weeks until I get an answer. They like to play hard to get. I open the e-mail hastily – accepted! — and don’t waste time reading the DocuSign. When I get to the total, $550 including registration fee (more than I’ve ever paid for a gym in my life), I take a deep breath and pull out my credit card. I get an almost perverse joy as I type in the numbers and whisper, “I’m doing this to me.”
Shot of me opening Grindr in the first five minutes I was in the establishment as a new member. It is important to have an overview of the terrain. Unfortunately, the closest profile is over 1000 feet, but I won’t give up hope.
I prance around picking up dumbbells and putting them down. I try to act like I know where everything is, like I was born to be here. The place is almost completely empty. I feel like at any moment security could escort me outside, kicking and shouting, “I just wanted the community!”
Nevertheless, I persist. I dutifully return each day and soon realize that in my rush to be accepted, I forgot to ask a few questions. With no guide in sight, I try to spice up my requests to various staff members so as not to appear too needy. “Is there a steam room? No (devastating). “Is the pool water salty or chlorinated?” Chlorine (in 2022?). “Can we bring guests?” Two per year, otherwise a day pass costs $100 (you have to laugh).
Throughout the week, I notice that more and more people are interested in the place. For the first time, a machine I “need” is busy and I have to wait my turn. I’m trying to book a Pilates class but everyone has a waiting list. On more than one occasion, I’ve come across an influencer taking shirtless selfies in the bathroom (in their defense, backlit mirrors flatter the body). I keep coming across #Heimat TikToks, with captions like “I’ll be spending all my days here” and “Soho house who?” Katy Perry even shows up on the roof one night. When I hear that they are starting to limit membership, I breathe a sigh of relief.
An email with the subject “Heimat Happenings” invites me to a few members-only events. I RSVP for a free IV (of what? I’m not asking, I’m just offering my vein blindly) and a free drink at the first “Golden Hour Sessions” by the pool. I meet a woman there who says to me: “This is the best thing that has happened to the neighborhood in years. I’m confused because this is Hollywood, where new restaurants and “concept spaces” seem to open every day, but the light is so bright in his eyes that I allow it. Her husband says they thought of Soho House, but disagreed with her arrogance. “People here are much more willing to talk.” And, looking around me, I agree. It’s an eclectic mix of bright-eyed Angelenos, reveling in this shared space that’s almost too good to be true.
But I still want to hate him. Heimat is completely over the top, from its sky-high prices to its flashy designs to its froufrou rhetoric around self-actualization and community building. A bottle of water will cost you $7, and staff are required to wear gold shoes. And yet, what scares me is that once I stop rolling my eyes, I find that I’m meeting new people and starting to feel, dare I say… home.
One Saturday, I brave the swimming pool alone. The attendant guides me to an open chair. “Chill house music” plays just loud enough to make reading with retention impossible, so I sort of blur my view of an article about climate collapse when I hear, “You stole my chair.”
I look up to see a guy my age, all wet and smiling. My heart leaps – community? – and I jump up apologetically. He assures me it’s okay, he’ll use the next chair. We start talking about space, comparing notes, thinking about our good fortune. “I live here now,” he half-jokes. The mood is good, so we plan to have a drink the following week. We decide to meet at, you guessed it, Heimat. We’ll have an $18 cocktail at Mother Tongue. Because, at this point, why go anywhere else?
#LAs #hippest #gym #money #leave #begging