Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis muscles through a workout at Unbreakable Performance, a Los Angeles-based training center that’s become a hot spot for pro athletes and Hollywood A-listers. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
Tucked away in the former location of the Roxybury nightclub on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, you’ll find Unbreakable Performance, one of the most cutting-edge gyms in America. Step inside and you’re bound to spot top names in movies, music, sports, and business, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Puff Daddy getting their sweat on. The baller atmosphere is part of the gym’s secret sauce: “Our motto is ‘success breeds success,’” says Unbreakable Performance founder Jay Glazer, a FOX NFL analyst and MMA trainer, who fittingly appeared in a cameo on The new HBO comedy series Ballers.
One of the first things you notice about Unbreakable Performance — other than the famous faces — is that it couldn’t be more different from your typical big-box gym. There are no elliptical machines or stair climbers — not even a traditional treadmill. There is no spinning studio, no trendy juice bar, and no membership card to scan — the entire staff knows your face, knows your name, and knows your story.
Odell Beckham, wide receiver for the New York Giants, puts himself through a hip-opening exercise routine. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
Four squat racks line the walls, framing an immense mural by Gabe Richesson, “artists to the athletes.” The mural is emblazoned with “UNBREAKABLE” in bold block letters and portraits of some of the many superstar athletes affiliated with the facility: Chuck Liddell, Dashon Goldson, and Anthony Barr, to name a few.
In the small lounge, business honchos chat up pro athletes. About a dozen people — men and women, stars and citizens — work out on the training floor with a handful of the gym’s trainers, all of whom have experience training athletes at the professional or collegiate level.
The celebrity clientele definitely gives Unbreakable Performance a cool factor. (Glazer runs the facility along with a team of high-profile partners, including longtime friend and Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher, Olympic volleyballer Lindsey Berg, and restauranteurs Craig Ley and Tony LaPenna). But on a recent visit, Yahoo Health was more impressed by the facility’s emphasis on exercise innovation, injury prevention, and self-competition. Here are five lessons we learned:
1. The gym should be your oasis
“When most people go to a gym, and that includes me, as I’m driving up, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of there,” Glazer admits. “You’ve got to love the place you go to, and that’s what we try and offer more than anything else: You cannot wait to get in here and hang out with us.”
MMA trainer and Unbreakable Performance founder Jay Glazer demonstrates a move on the gym floor. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
Case in point: Clients regularly show up an hour early just to hang out, bust chops about what happened over the weekend, and talk shop. “We’ve made it a place where you cannot wait to get in here and work out,” says Glazer. “That’s huge. It’s your one place your problems cannot touch you. It becomes your oasis. You need that.”
2. Go hard on your muscles, easy on your joints
All of the equipment at Unbreakable Performance is designed to take stress off the joints, which allows you to work out harder and with a greater frequency. “The less pounding and stress you put on your joints, the healthier you’re going to feel, the better you’re going to feel, and the more you’re going to be able to work out,” Glazer says. “We want you to be able to come in every day and train.”
Instead of treadmills, Unbreakable Performance uses a specialized piece of running equipment called the Sproing Trainer, which consists of an adjustable soft running surface and a belt that allows you to lean forward as you run in place. Unlike typical jogging in place, where your body is horizontal, the belt lets you adopt a sprinter’s forward lean, putting you in the correct position to run. It also provides a soft, super-low-impact running surface that builds supportive connective tissues in your toes, ankles, and legs. Says Glazer, “We have people that cannot run who can do this all day long.”
The reACT Trainer gives you a zero-impact leg and core workout. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
The gym also offers a reACT Trainer, recommended to Glazer by pal Michael Strahan, the former NFL player turned morning-TV host. “You get a better workout with that thing on your legs than you do from any sort of squatting,” Glazer says. The reACT trainer is a versatile moving platform, like a surfboard combined with an elliptical machine, that works the legs, core, and cardiovascular system with zero impact.
“It’s all about keeping you healthier,” Glazer explains. “We take away all the pounding. That’s the biggest thing. We want to take away all the pounding so we can just focus on your muscles.”
3. The “no pain, no gain" motto is dead
Fighters train three times a day, Glazer points out, which means walking a fine line between challenging the body without overtaxing the system. “If I do all this heavy lifting and I can’t move my arms, I’m going to get punched in the face, or I’m going to get my head kicked,” he says.
Recovery is also key. It’s the only gym in Los Angeles with a cryotherapy chamber, which has cold air to decrease inflammation, speed muscle recovery, and boost endorphins and immunity. The effects are similar to an ice bath, but more efficient, and studies support its use for decreasing post-exercise soreness. The chamber is cooled to an icy negative 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Standing in the chamber for two minutes lowers a person’s core temperature so drastically that you burn hundreds of calories to bring it back up to normal, Glazer claims.
Many clients end workouts with a 20-minute NormaTec compression massage. The full-leg boots use compressed air to massage tissues and flush out waste products in the body. And as Glazer says, “Who doesn’t want to end each workout with a massage?”
NHL player Rich Clune of the Toronto Maple Leafs receives a treatment with the Phoenix Thera-Lase laser at Unbreakable Performance. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
Because of their emphasis on recovery, Unbreakable Performance receives constant offers to test the latest and greatest tech in rehab and recovery. Last month, the gym started offering the Phoenix Thera-Lase, a $120,000 cold therapy laser that penetrates six inches into the body to encourage healing and reduce swelling and inflammation. Toronto Maple Leafs star Rich Clune and MMA fighter Rashad Evans are both fans, Glazer notes.
4. Loosen up your hips and core
Every athlete at Unbreakable Performance participates in the gym’s signature hip and core training program.
The sessions are based on a jiu jitsu warmup, with elements of other disciplines. “It’s kind of yoga, stretching, Pilates — on steroids, on growth hormone, on antibiotics,” Glazer jokes. “It’s the craziest thing you’ll ever see.”
As most people become stronger, they get tighter, Glazer explains. This makes them less powerful and more prone to injury. “We’re the only place that does the opposite,” Glazer says. “Every single time we strengthen you, we loosen you up; we counterbalance it.”
The hip and core program at Unbreakable Performance is a must-do. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)
5. Your trainers should feel like family
Although the cutting-edge tech may get people in the door, it’s the team that makes you feel at home, Glazer insists. “We don’t train here, we coach,” he says. “You don’t just come here and work out. We are going to completely change your body, your mind, your health, everything.”
Jay Glazer running hammer fist drills at Unbreakable Performance, where MMA greats Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture also train. (Photo courtesy of Unbreakable Performance)