Timeless Elegance Meets Modern Fitness: A Look Inside LA Athletic Club Transformation

La athletic club

The Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) just unveiled a multimillion-dollar renovation project with extensive enhancements to their 7th-floor fitness facility. But can this historic private club truly balance its old-world charm with the demands of a diverse society hooked on modern day fitness?


Stepping into the wide central lobby of the LA Athletic Club, with its high ceilings, old wood furnishings, and ornately framed portraits of past memories, may feel like stepping back in time.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Athletic Club

The Club’s communal rooms, some lined with wall to wall wood paneling, handcrafted furnishings, stoic carpets, and old wood flooring, screams, “They just don’t make them like this anymore!”

Still, in modern days, the club reflects a more diverse member list than in its days of yesteryear. With new fitness facilities, relaxing spas, along with fine dining restaurants within LAAC’s labyrinths of plush furnishings, arranged perfectly for conversation, LAAC is seemingly ready to pave the way for other private clubs in Downtown Los Angeles to follow.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Athletic Club

“The Los Angeles Athletic Club is one of the businesses that is a leader in the rejuvenation of downtown. The LAAC community is an integral part of the revitalization of DTLA, and our recent renovations are part and parcel of the commitment The LAAC has to its community.” – Managing Director Troy Christian

A New Era of Fitness: A Cutting-Edge 7th Floor Facility

When LAAC proudly reopened its gym doors in April, they unveiled a new 10,000-square-foot fitness facility with the latest in cardio machines, free weights, and a newly resurfaced indoor track to encumbrance it all. 

A quick run on the 7th floor runner’s track gives a jogger a birds-eye view of LAAC’s iconic basketball court and Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool below. 

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Athletic Club

Swimmers and basketball players look upwards to the club’s refurbished skylights that allow bursts of natural light, exposing little trace of its old dim gym’s surroundings, with the exception of dozens of trophies, wall plaques, and black and white portraits of sports legends and sponsored athletes that once crossed paths with the establishment over the years.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Athletic Club

The upstairs fitness space is also newly equipped with an all-new advanced air filtration system with new indoor air quality meters to monitor and optimize indoor air quality. 

A newly installed audio-visual system was thoughtfully designed to include multiple audio zones, allowing for an even audio experience as the 10,000-square-foot space is traversed. 

Six new televisions broadcast in-house media adorn the walls now, two of which are nighty-eight inches are surrounded by wall covering made from vintage footballs.

Photo by Keri Freeman

It’s rare in any of its compartments to experience any voices peeking so much as slightly as to disturb another.

Even the fitness floor redesign has taken into consideration the need to minimize noise pollution from adjacent fitness areas. 

On other floors, long mahogany tables, carved desks, and royal bookshelves filled with leather-bound volumes fill its lounge interiors, making the LAAC as still and as calming as it ever was.

Welcome to The Player’s Club

With the grand opening of the Famous Players Cafe by Top Chef Marcel Vigneron, LAAC adds items like House Chopped Hanger Steak Tartare with egg yolk jam, Petaluma Farms organic roast chicken, sustainable Coho salmon, and a ras el hanout cauliflower steak with a spicy date gremolata to its menu.

Photo by Keri Freeman

The bistro, in addition to the mid-level excitement of the Invention Bar, helps make every communal floor a testament of the club’s hundred and forty-four-year-old run. 

The new LA Athletic Club, like the old, is still a place where members and guests can work out, relax, network, enjoy cocktails, fine dining, an evening of jazz, or all of the above. 

Yet, LAAC has shown that sometimes it’s best to leave some things in the past. 

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Athletic Club

Founded in 1880, the Los Angeles Athletic Club remains a vital part of the city’s fabric, and it’s been interesting to see the establishment evolve. Once boldly catering exclusively to upper-class Caucasian males, with each passing year, the LAAC seems to become less and less pretentious, turning its back on its old ways.

While locals, members, hotel guests co-exist well once inside the privacy of such clubs, many prestigious clubs make the mistake of allowing concierge to either purposely or unknowingly, foster a false sense of superiority. These over zealous sentinels many times utilize their positions to create cult-like atmospheres of exclusivity while outwardly displaying personal opinions of who deserves to dwell within the walls of “their” private clubs.

These types of interactions don’t quite fit so well with the modern new era, and could cause potential conflict especially with private clubs that dual as public spaces or hotels.

Photo by Keri Freeman

The LAAC mascot, a statue of the winged-footed Hermes and the frolicking sold wood-carved mares that lead to the study, are familiar cherished time pieces at the LAAC. Moving forward with the new renovations, rooftop patio and deck, a full year of live musical performances, and equitable treatment by concierge should easily equate to years of promise for the LAAC, and for downtown Los Angeles. www.LAAC.net

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.