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Healthy living LA style; Hollywood celebrities are at the forefront of fitness fads, making LA the healthy choice for an urban wellness retreat, says LISA HAYNES.


IT'S NOT even noon and shots are being passed around a sunny outdoor table in Abbot Kinney.

Before you pass judgement, I'm watching a mother and her kids sipping on mini tonics - Super Greens and Energy Boosters - for brunch at an organic cafe. There are 22 different super juices to choose from on the rainbow-bright menu.

It's a typical LA scene in a city where healthy eating and working out are an everyday occurrence, rather than a passing detox fad.

Walking along Abbot Kinney boulevard - Venice's boho chic district - I spot bold signs like "GMO FREE" prominently displayed in restaurant windows, taking the organic movement up a notch.

Most wellness retreats may take the form of beachside hideaways or exotic mountain escapes, but for a city break with a health kick, LA is shaping up to be your best bet.

Even the famous Hollywood sign provides the glamorous backdrop for many residents' daily hike up the hills.

On my two-hour trek in the rugged hills of Griffith Park, our guide tells me there are more than 50 miles of trails, fire roads and bridle paths to work up a sweat. Apparently, it's also a place many like-minded outdoorsy types meet potential dates.

If navigating dust tracks in trainers isn't your thing, cycle paths are becoming as popular as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As I pedal along the Santa Monica bike route, fellow cyclists, roller-bladers and skate-boarders whizz past in perfect harmony.

There's something about the bright blue skies fringed with palm trees that motivates you to be active and healthy like everybody else.

Venice beach isn't packed with sun bathers, but groups playing volleyball, grown-ups catching frisbees, and surfers running with boards under arms towards the crashing waves.

Santa Monica is dubbed the "Wellness Capital" of LA and it doesn't take me long to see why as I sign up for an outdoor yoga session at Palisades Park. Turns out attempting sun salutations overlooking the Pacific Ocean is pretty damn Zen.

Afterwards I quench my thirst with a green juice containing kale, cucumber and spinach.

The juice culture has exploded in LA and there are places to pick up cold pressed concoctions on just about every street corner, with super-healthy ingredients such as aloe vera, cacao, raw almond and liquid chlorophyll that laugh in the face of shop-bought "smoothies".

For lunch with crunch, raw food is big on the menu.

Cyclists hit the LA beach I'm pleased to discover that raw food chef Matthew Kenney's cuisine at M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica Place Food Market is surprisingly tasty.

Flagging a little, I order a Vitamin B12 shot in my arm at West Hollywood's Earthbar Vibrance. Apparently, Rihanna and Simon Cowell are both fans.

It gives me just enough energy to tackle SoulCycle, combining spin, weights and yoga for one intensive hour.

The candlelit room and pumping music make it feel as though I'm at some kind of disco cycle in the dark but I guess it eliminates the need for hiding a sweaty face behind sunglasses. I'm hooked. And, hey, it's LA. What's not to like? FACTFILE ? LISA HAYNES visited LA as a guest of British Airways Holidays.

British Airways is the only UK carrier to operate direct flights from London to Los Angeles on an A380 Superjumbo. Daily flights are from PS542 return. Visit ? They also offer a seven-night stay at Andaz West Hollywood with return flights from PS988 per person, based on two people sharing.

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Cyclists hit the LA beach

People playing beach volleyball at sunset, and a group take a trek up the Hollywood Hills

Rollerblading by Santa Monica pier in LA is a common occurance
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Feb 2, 2014
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