There’s a secret at the Pink Taco in Los Angeles. No, it’s not the underground tunnel that burrows beneath its foundation and winds its way to celebrity haven Chateau Marmont down the block. It’s not the ingredients the taqueria puts in its sauce, either. It’s actually what’s happening above the restaurant, just beyond an unmarked third-floor entrance, where a who’s who of Hollywood boldface names gather for something far less decadent: a chance to sweat at one of the most technologically advanced and exclusive gyms ever conceived.
One afternoon last November, just past the floor-to-ceiling photo of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and the mural featuring MMA legend Chuck Liddell, the room is teeming with a clientele that includes models, actors, musicians, and the sort of leggy Hollywood publicists who seem straight out of HBO’s Entourage.
In one corner there’s Armie Hammer, star of such movies as The Social Network and The Lone Ranger, sparring with his brother-in-law in a boxing ring. In another, the UFC’s Randy Couture works out with his girlfriend, model and actress Mindy Robinson. Shawne Merriman, the former NFL linebacker, is nearby doing speed drills. Oh, and speaking of Entourage—this is also where Jerry Ferrara, the actor who played the show’s formerly portly sidekick Turtle, is preparing for his upcoming role as the lean Italian pugilist Arturo Gatti in Mark Wahlberg’s forthcoming boxing project.
At Unbreakable Performance Center, the word-of-mouth facility that officially opened its doors last year (not that just anybody can waltz in—an unlimited membership costs $2,000 a month), there’s a palpable energy and star wattage that makes sense only when you see its founder and impresario—the man responsible for luring everyone here in the first place—explode through the pink doorway and start working the room.
Stout and muscular in a T-shirt and workout pants, Jay Glazer— Fox NFL analyst, tireless networker, and friend to NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan—clearly knows everyone and seems to have no concept of the idea of “personal space.” One moment he slips on a Muay Thai pad on his arm and blocks kicks from Armie Hammer, the next he runs over and tackles Mindy Robinson and puts her in a wrestling hold, which she doesn’t seem to mind. (Perhaps more important, neither does Couture.) “You’ll never get bored here,” Glazer later tells me, for the fourth time.
But if repetition and predictability are indeed the roots of boredom, Glazer has a point. As I scan the room, I’m surprised to discover no one’s lifting huge weights. No one is maxing out his or her deadlift or bench press. Equally surprising is that there are no Smith machines, treadmills, ellipticals, or stationary bikes—or really anything else your regular Equinox-goer might recognize. You’d sooner find a pair of four-figure stiletto heels on the premises than you would a standard Cybex machine.
Instead, everyone is on his or her feet doing something active, either swinging around a sandbag, knocking out dynamic lunges with a twist, or sparring on the mat. Couture doesn’t seem to be lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds. Robinson is doing the same workout, matching move for move. Ten paces from them, world-class classical pianist Chloe Flower (who recently lent her musical stylings to Nas’ “A Queen’s Story”) is sprinting while the song “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito— otherwise known as the montage rocker from The Karate Kid—blares at ear-splitting decibels. That’s when it hits me: What’s most unique about Unbreakable Performance isn’t even the crazy clientele. It’s the fact that everyone’s basically doing the same workout.