The Los Angeles Athletic Club is NANCY APPROVED!

The Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) has existed in downtown Los Angeles for more than 125 years.  I bet you didn’t know that!  It has a noteworthy history with members who made their mark on Los Angeles, such as:  Lankershim, Doheny, Chandler, Dockweiler, O’Melveny and Slauson.

Established in 1880 as an American style club for the “best young men” of the community, The Los Angeles Athletic Club quickly became a forerunner for fitness training as well as understanding the importance of proper diet and overall well-being. This resulted in the club becoming a significant destination for Olympic bound athletes to train as well as other serious athletes. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, LAAC attracted hot talent like Rudolph Valentino, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  (With the exception of Lloyd, the rest were under contract with Famous Players, the foundation of what would eventually become Paramount Pictures!)

LAAC grew with the times and eventually settled in its current location on 7th Street and Olive in 1912.  It was the first building in Southern California to have a pool built on an upper floor, which still exists today.  In addition to the pool, the club has as a basketball court, track, handball and racquet ball courts, Pilates, yoga, aerobic and weight rooms.  The 12-story building also includes a spa, barbershop and salon, banquet rooms, lounges, a speakeasy, and…hotel rooms – of which are famed for Charlie Chaplin living in for 3 years. 

Renovations keep the club updated with the times, and if you make a visit, you will see that they are still a work in progress.  I was especially impressed with the Blue Room, an exclusive members-only speakeasy that was renovated in 2015 by Timothy Oulton.  The original Blue Room, known for being where the influential Uplifter Club formed in 1913 and included the likes of Walt Disney and Clark Gable, is accessed by a hidden staircase. As you walk up the steps, you get a sense of what it was like during the days of prohibition to enter the secret passage via the hidden door disguised as a bookcase! It was all quite remarkable.

The Los Angeles Athletic Club is a significant part of the city’s history and one that should be explored.  There is much more to learn and so much more to experience, so be sure to check it out!

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