I don’t follow the NFL, or MMA and UFC fights, but I do follow Demi Lovato and her fitspo workout routine on social media, which is how I found out about Unbreakable Performance Center—an elite, under-the-radar, members-only gym in Los Angeles with a clientele made up of mainly NFL players, and MMA and UFC fighters... and, apparently, Demi Lovato. Tucked away behind a Pink Taco restaurant on West Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip, Unbreakable is definitely not a boutique fitness studio. Instead of rows of shiny machines, there are no-frills weight racks and benches, a patch of artificial turf that doubles as a workout and stretch area, and a mural of UFC champion Chuck Liddell. With a focus on MMA, half the space is given over to mats and heavy bags where you can sometimes catch Demi herself kicking her trainer, while Nick and Joe Jonas cheer her on.
Opened in 2015 by NFL TV commentator Jay Glazer, Unbreakable has established a reputation as the go-to spot for pro athletes looking to stay fit during the off-season, and anyone looking for a pro-level athletic training experience—a.k.a. Hollywood A-listers training for movie roles and music videos. Monthly memberships start at $2,000 and include one-on-one personal training sessions with a superstar team of former Olympic athletes and professional fighters, pre-workout and post-workout nutrition, and lots of recovery modalities that you won’t find anywhere else.
"The thing we do which other gyms don't do is that we rehab you right here," says Glazer. "We want to make sure you come back the next day to train better. If you're healthier, you can train smarter and harder and get better results.” Reassured by this approach, I signed up for a two-week program, which includes daily 60-minute workouts, recovery, and a meal plan limited to 1,100 calories. I set out to find out whether or not I'm truly unbreakable. Here's what happened:
DAY 1: When I arrive, all the staff shout out my name (which is deeply embarrassing, but also really nice). It’s something Glazer has implemented to create a family vibe at the gym, and it definitely works, as you get to know everyone’s name very quickly. I meet my trainer Kim Glass, a gorgeous, incredibly tall former Olympic volleyball player and model. We start off by taking my measurements including weight, height, waist, arms, thighs, and BMI. Now that Kim knows nearly everything about me, we do a fitness assessment. She makes me hold a plank for as long as I can (I make it to four minutes), followed by a 500-meter challenge on the rowing machine. Each session begins with a syrupy sweet, pre-workout punch in lurid shades of blues, reds, and greens delivered in a metal cup labeled with your name. Halfway through the workout I get another cup containing an amino acid supplement, and at the end of every session, I am given a protein shake. We go through a couple of strength circuits, which are challenging but not awful, and I begin to think this workout might not be so hard after all.
For my first post-workout recovery session, I am shown into the lounge area, which is filled with reclining chairs, a large flat-screen TV, and a wall lined with Normatec compression sleeves and stockings. Some clients are hooked up to vitamin infusion IV therapy drips (there is a nurse on site to administer these). I take a seat in one of the loungers while my legs are zipped in by a member of staff, and with a push of a button, the sleeves begin to inflate with compressed air. This is meant to reduce muscle soreness and increase circulation. After 30 minutes, I unzip myself, grab my bag of prepped meals, and head on home to see what grim fate awaits.
It’s not that bad. Morning snack is either celery and peanut butter with grapes or carrots and hummus with grapes and almonds. Lunch is some kind of chicken or turkey with a side of yams or rice and green beans, broccoli, or asparagus. There is an arugula and veggie salad with oil-free dressing for afternoon snack. Dinner is a repeat of lunch. There is no oil or butter on anything, but it’s pretty tasty and I’m not hungry at the end of the day. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)
DAY 2: I get there ready to work, which means strength-training circuits with Kim followed by 10 minutes of boxing with Josh Montalvo—a.k.a. Manic Mayhem—a professional MMA fighter who has two black eyes. I get exhausted pretty quickly and hyperextend my arm throwing a right cross punch. After the workout, I have a cold laser treatment on my left shoulder, which has been very tight, to reduce pain and inflammation by accelerating tissue healing on a cellular level. The laser—despite its name—feels very warm and soothing. I am seriously exhausted and sleep 10 hours that night.
DAY 3: Everything, and I mean everything, hurts. I do a coffee body scrub in the shower in an attempt to revive myself and hobble off to the gym. Once there, I do feel energized. Maybe it’s the enthusiastic greeting when I walk in or the fact that this time I am partnered up with another member (I will not name names but he’s a reality TV star). After the session I strip off and jump into the cryotherapy chamber chilled to an icy -200 degrees Farenheit for 90 seconds to decrease inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms, and promote the constriction of blood vessels.
DAY 4: Yesterday’s endless stepovers on a bench have really done a number on my glutes, so when Kim takes me outside to monster step and throw weighted balls up the steep hill outside the gym, I am not thrilled. Even worse: An Ultimate Hollywood Tour bus packed with tourists hoping for a celebrity sighting pulls up outside as I’m doubled over and panting. The session ends with what just might be the hardest exercise I’ve ever done: army crawls forward and backward across the gym on my forearms with my feet on sliders.
DAY 5: I think I may be broken. I struggle through my workout feeling weepy. My back is also beginning to hurt, which makes me worry it’s going to go into spasm and I won’t be able to complete the program. Kim sees that I’m struggling, cuts the workout short, and brings me back to see the on-site myofascial release therapist Alan Willoughby. Twenty agonizing minutes later, I am Alan’s biggest fan. Using pressure in his elbows and palms he ‘unsticks’ fascia from places in which it has adhered to muscle, leaving me pain-free and energized. I begin to understand what Jay said about the Unbreakable philosophy: They work you hard but then they put you back together so you feel ready to go again.
DAY 6: I wake up feeling completely revived. Saturday is more bootcamp-style with a group of three other members. I’m thankful to have some other workout buddies to take the pressure off.
DAY 7: This is a rest day, and I completely fall off the diet wagon. The meals have been tasty and satisfying, but I feel like some truffle fries and a couple of glasses of wine are truly deserved. I catch a movie starring fellow Unbreakable client Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and marvel at his insane triceps.
DAY 8: Back to the grind. Lots of running up and down the hill with medicine balls, jump squats, stepups, kettlebell swings, and bear crawls. I spend a full 30 minutes in the Normatec leg compression sleeves drinking my smoothie and hanging with the other clients. I’m beginning to feel like one of the gang.
DAY 9: A full hour of boxing with Josh shakes things up and makes for a serious cardio session as we go through combinations and bag work.
DAY 10: It’s celebrity central at Unbreakable today. Sylvester Stallone, Nick Jonas, Nicole Scherzinger, and Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers are all breaking a sweat. I go through my strength circuits and finish with 10 minutes of boxing to burn out my muscles with Josh. Heavy battle ropes and repeated jabs have put my left arm and shoulder into total meltdown so I finish up with another session with Alan who works on my shoulder and neck to improve mobility.
DAY 11: Today is leg and butt day. Deadlifts, sled pushes across the floor, runs up and down the hill, and some situps with a medicine ball for good measure.
DAY 12: Today's workout includes box jumps and burpees, Versaclimber sprints, barbell rows, planks and abs, finished off with 10 mins of boxing with Ava Knight, three-time World Boxing Council (WBC) Boxing Champion. She says my form wasn’t bad (fist pump). I jump into the cryotherapy machine for two minutes for a quick recovery.
DAY 13: It’s my last day. I have had a blast and I feel amazing. I can really see the attraction of Unbreakable, where working out is fun. We start off checking my measurements. I lost three pounds and an inch around my waist. I take the 500-meter rowing challenge again and beat my time by 13 seconds. I feel pretty unbreakable until I start kickboxing with UFC fighter Uriah Hall. I have never done it before and am terrible. My balance is all off, and by the end my knees and thighs are all bruised from kicking the pads. It seems like just when you think you’ve nailed it here, they throw a new challenge at you. But, hey, that's what would keep me coming back.
Unbreakable Performance and its founder, Jay Glazer, have partnered with MVP, Merging Vets & Players. With a focus on creating an environment where our nation's vets can share their strengths and experiences and can support each other in building fulfilling lives of service & strength. Your support will enable us to continue building our program, and unlocking the potential of these great individuals.learn more