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We Sat Down With The Experts Who Are Changing The Way We See Our Daily Health

Written By: Jocelyn You Whole Life Balance and Pop Physique Are Changing the Fitness Game
Photographed By: Patrick Martin

Los Angeles is America’s epicenter of health and fitness—spin classes, yoga flows, beach trainers, marathon clubs … you get the point. People from Santa Monica to Silver Lake to Long Beach are witnessing new fitness and health-conscious centers pop up on their blocks every month, honing in on unique facets of the health movement. We wanted to tap into the new and raw spirit of fitness and nutrition in LA, so we sat down with owners and operators of Whole Life Balance, a holistic nutrition and wellness center in Santa Monica, and Pop Physique, a funky dance and barre studio offering various classes on Abbot Kinney.

Venturing to a class, or a drip session, with these experts will have you reconsidering your perception of fitness and overall wellness. Whether you chat with Shane Griffin about what it means to be holistically healthy and realize your own “uniqueness in health” or discover muscles you didn’t know you had while jamming to EDM and R&B at a Pop Physique class, take a look inside and see what the new generation of health and fitness looks like.

Griffin’s Gains

The Expert: Shane Griffin, Founder of Whole Life Balance
Liquid Gold: The most popular modality at Whole Life Balance is the vitamin drip!

Whole Life Balance is a wellness center dedicated to holistic health and nutrition along with drip IV therapy. Located five blocks from the sandy beaches of Santa Monica, the center is a direct result of founder Shane Griffin’s personal journey out of addiction and into recovery and self-enlightenment. After more than a decade of alcohol and substance abuse working as a club owner, Griffin went to treatment then school, dedicated to learning what it meant to live a healthy lifestyle. His entire life is now dedicated to bettering himself and others through health and fitness. Griffin stresses the importance of understanding one’s uniqueness in health, and he adjusts his routine to fit everyone’s specific needs. With his charming smile, genuine throw-the-head-back laugh and lighthearted words, Griffin emits a free-spirited, youthful exuberance.

Q: Understanding that Whole Life Balance was founded as a result of your recovery, how would you say the wellness and fitness program can transform a person’s life?

Shane Griffin: This is a pretty touchy subject—when people hear about me once being an addict. I come from a background of addiction. I was a successful nightclub owner for 10 years in Toronto, Canada. I realized that wasn’t going well for me after battling a sort of depression (brought on as a result of my addiction) for a couple years. This is the next part of my journey—Whole Life Balance. Whole Life Balance has transformed my life personally as a way to give back to people through health and wellness using a holistic system, which essentially means using an all-natural and organic fair trade supplementation and food, helping people’s lives through symptomatology.

Q: So who is the audience of Whole Life Balance?

S: It’s absolutely for everybody. I started the business as a result of the world I came from, and I moved out to California with the intention to work with people in addiction recovery. I want to help people—helping people is my goal. I would be a philanthropist for free if I could. I got a second chance at life. I put myself through school to do this, I got myself a nutritional degree for it. I realized that people who aren’t recovering from addiction needed just as much help to lead a healthy life, so here I am. I want to help everyone I can.

Q: Why California?

S: I originally chose California because this is where I became sober and felt it would be a safe environment for me. Also, I have several contacts here in the recovery community. California is a forward thinking place for healing as well as people’s ability to grasp solid new ideas and directions about health and wellness. I felt I could pay it forward and assist people in recovery and also use my solid skills to provide healthy services to people maintaining healthy lifestyles. Santa Monica has absolutely, without a doubt, helped Whole Life Balance gain success.

Q: Was opening Whole Life Balance smooth sailing or did it take a strain on you?

S: Was it smooth sailing? Certainly not. I knew from my own personal journey, and what I learned as I pursued my nutritional education, that this concept would add greatly to those in addiction treatment centers. And I was certain that my business and health plan would fit very well within their programs. However, while several directors of centers could see the benefits of my program, no one was willing to spend a dime. Was I incredulous? Frustrated? Yes. Consequently, I looked at my system, and I knew I could help people, so I decided to go it alone. “I believe in it. I lived it.” I have further implemented more people and more modalities like the drip IV therapy, aerial yoga and osteopathic manipulation that has given Whole Life Balance a strong and unique position within the health and wellness community.

Q: What is your idea of a well-balanced diet plan?

S: We want every food group with every meal. We’re not dieticians. We’re certified holistic nutritionists. We look at each individual and determine what their body needs, not just the symptoms. “One size fits all” is such BS. Everyone processes food differently.

Q: Are there some examples of how one size does not fit all?

S: A lot of people look up to celebrities or fitness models. Quite frankly, not many people are going to look like Kylie Jenner or any of those other glorified people. Kylie has a personal trainer, a reviewed diet plan, all that. Most normal people do not. Normal people cannot look online and see a certain body and read how a person got that body and expect to get the same results. Not to say some of us are “big-boned, ” but some people gain weight easier or can’t gain at all. This comes from a variety of things like eating habits, lifestyle, DNA itself. We’re all different and predisposed to illnesses.

Q: Would you say your customers are now educated on health?

S: Being in Santa Monica, the customers are likely already educated on health. A lot of people here are so health-conscious but they are always looking for ways to get better. Of course, there are some misguided people who buy into fads, but as a whole, Santa Monica’s people are dedicated to health and wellness. Wandering their way into Whole Life Balance is just another step in living a healthy lifestyle.

Q: What are some health myths that Whole Life Balance strives to end?

S: I hate the word “diet.” There’s no diet. People participate in programs that hardly work but cost tons of money. People just need to stick to eating whole, organic foods and keeping active. Another thing I hate even more than diets is how people constitute health. We all have in our minds what “healthy” is. Whether healthy is some runway model, body trainer or some other physique, we need to understand that their body is a whole other process than ours. A six pack and muscular thighs, if you want that, that’s fine. That’s a fitness goal, not a health goal. I have met some overweight people who are way healthier than people who can squat racks of 800 pounds. Health is on the inside.

Q: How are exercises at Whole Life more unique than any other fitness center in the area?

S: We have classes like aerial silks training here. In those classes, you’ll see me, along with a bunch of graceful women, swinging two feet off the ground and feeling like we’re soaring. I know it sounds silly but the class is actually so addicting. I have a friend from Toronto who I made try the class out while he was waiting for me. He wasn’t too keen at first but eventually he took the class. Two weeks later, he’s flying back to California again for a second class.

Q: What do you believe is the most helpful modality used at Whole Life Balance?

S: The IV drips, without a doubt. It’s truly the ropes of the business. They allow us to provide the fastest support. Whether you are suffering from fatigue, jet lag, food poisoning or a night of overindulgence, we have a drip for you. We have over 10 drips on our menu that are specifically designed to support a lifestyle, reduce symptoms or repair damage. The studio and the nutrition support the complete wellness idea, but the vitamin drips are what we stress.

Q: How have you changed mentally since starting Whole Life Balance?

S: I have changed tremendously. I was once depressed with self-esteem issues. I was an addict. I needed help. Now I’m posting inspirational quotes daily on Instagram (@wholelife.balance). My whole life has flipped, and all I care about is helping people. I donate to charities—I immerse myself in them, actually. I connect with everyone I meet. I’ve just grown into an overall better person and I am on the same journey with everyone else on being healthy.

Q: If you were able to stand on a pedestal and yell to the world one thing, what would it be?

S: Love yourself!

Native Knowledge: Whole Life Balance with drip IV therapy is located in Santa Monica, just blocks from ocean, and is flanked by cozy, vibrant houses. Parking is tricky, but the hassle is worth the wait. The modest storefront is conveniently placed near a Panera and Whole Foods just in case you want a quick bite.

Whole Life Balance
507 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401, Ste 101


Let’s Get Physical

The Experts: Stephanie Farrell, Director of Operations and Deric Williams, Co-Founder of Pop Physique
Keep It Real: Pop Physique censors nothing. Classes get a dose of rap, f-bombs, beat drops and plenty of sweat.

Pop Physique is a trendy fitness center focused on creating the “sexiest, most efficient, coolest workout at the best price.” Located on Abbot Kinney and surrounded by art galleries, urban restaurants, greenhouses and modern-chic houses, Pop Physique blends perfectly into the upbeat and hip vibe. Founders Jennifer and Deric Williams aimed to create a culturally in-the-know studio where people of all ages and body types could come in and foster a healthy lifestyle. Keeping everything as explicitly raw as possible, Pop Physique appeals to anyone looking to get into the groove with rap music, f-bombs, beat drops, sweat and all. Pop Physique keeps it real.

Director of Operations, Stephanie, sat down with us under a “J’Adore Barre” glowing neon sign to chat about Pop Physique. Being a youngin’ in the artsy LA scene, Stephanie was drawn to Pop Physique because of how individualistic it is. Dressed in full-on dance attire, Stephanie explains how she was once a class attendee herself, but after falling in love with the program, decided to get even more involved with Pop Physique. All she does is eat, sleep, and Pop (lock and drop it … literally). Apparently that’s what every Pop Physique member does once they commit to the program.

Q: What type of vibe were you hoping for when creating Pop Physique?

Deric Williams: I wanted it to be raw. What you get is what you get here. We don’t censor anything. We work you out to the maximum. We’re in all of these socially cool neighborhoods just doing our thing.

Q: How did you find your place at Pop Physique?

Stephanie Farrell: I started off as a class attendee. I used to do ballet back when I was in school, but I stopped once I graduated. I needed to make a change with my health, so I came to Pop Physique, and I literally have not left since. It’s so addicting and challenging, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Q: How does Pop Physique help the body?

SF: For me personally, I saw my body transform back into what it was in high school when I danced nonstop. And for others, I see people of all ages come in to either get, or stay, on track. The workouts are challenging, so everyone’s sweating and breathing hard. They’re also fun though, so fun that everyone is jamming out and having a good time. I think that once you incorporate health into something enjoyable, it becomes a lifestyle rather than something forced.

Q: Who is Pop Physique directed towards?

SF: It is definitely marketed towards women, but it also appeals to men. Whether you’re male or female, 60 or 15, you’ll find your love for Pop Physique. We have a 15-year-old girl who comes in for classes and we have old ladies working out right next to her. I love it!

Q: How does the “aesthetically pleasing” trend fit into Pop Physique?

SF: Our locations are in very artsy neighborhoods. We want culture, art, health and free spirits to mingle with us. There are other barre workouts in the area, but Pop Physique incorporates more than just exercise. We’re a lifestyle brand, so we make the spaces inviting to everyone. From the work by local artists and flowers from local boutiques, Pop Physique is a cool place to get fit.

Q: What type of music is played here?

DW: We try to play music that people will like and come back for. We want them to ask us who’s playing, not play the typical zumba, radio, annoying music. We go from Halsey to Drake to Future to EDM. Nothing is bleeped out. It’s all out in the open. If a song is extremely explicit, then it’s extremely explicit.

Q: What is barre dancing?

SF: It’s a barre workout, meaning it’s a hybrid workout with different elements from pilates, yoga and ballet. But you do not have to be a dancer to do this. Barre workouts are isometric, meaning that you use your own body weight as resistance and repeating these tough workouts to burn out muscles and tone out evenly. You see results really quickly because the workout targets deep inside the muscles. It’s an intense calorie burner. People get more toned around the arms, the waist, the abs, the inner thighs. It’s good for the posture, so people start to walk taller and more precisely.

Q: How can it change a person mentally?

SF: Mentally, there’s a lot of rewards to it. It’s a technique. You come in and you get to shut off whatever’s going on and just focus on the workout. The workout is really challenging, so mentally, it’s rewarding. You get to learn about your body, and the more you come in, the harder it gets because you’re learning more and more about the muscles you’re supposed to be using. It pays off to come often because now you can feel reward in knowing that you completed such an intense workout.

Q: How does barre dancing compare to ballet?

SF: It’s more accessible but gives the same benefits. The same long, lean muscles and core workouts. The same mental focus. The same rewarding pride. But with barre workouts, you don’t have to be extremely coordinated. Nobody is judging you here, so it’s more welcoming to just workout rather than strictly dance. Barre workouts are also way safer than dancing. You can do this class every day and not injure yourself.

Native Knowledge: Pop Physique is located on Abbot Kinney, a street bustling with local businesses and art galleries. Strolling down the street is an adventure on its own. It’s what one would think of when “Instafamous” comes to mind. Sit down for a Mint Lemonade at Lemonade after your workout. You might even run into a few celebrities! (Pink sat next to me.)

Pop Physique
1645 Abbot Kinney
Los Angeles, CA 90291

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