The Santa Monica Stairs

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In Santa Monica down the corner from San Vicente and 4th street in a very nice neighborhood is a steep set of stairs that has become quite the scene. It's become a place where people meet for a social as well as physical workout. It's a fashion show too. People come from all over to do "the stairs." Basically you walk, run and crawl up and down these things as many times as you can. There are about 170 steps in all. The steps are fairly steep and it can get crowded on weekend mornings.

Some of the people are very serious about their workout. They don't talk to each other and have that look that is somewhere between aloofness and constipation. On the other hand you have lots of friendly people who actually live in the neighborhood, get the joke, and find the whole thing very funny. And aside from the weekend noise that annoys the multi-million dollar home owners, it's a good workout for everyone involved.

The scene is on the first set of stairs at the end of 4th street. These are "the stairs." People often workout in the median doing sit-ups and pushups. This is also a popular location to scope out the opposite sex. You'll often find older women with personal trainers going through the paces. One regular, Sarah, told us it's become quite the pickup place but she still enjoys the location for her morning workout. Her trainer, Lafayette, indulged us and was DJ Chris' trainer for a day.

There are a second set of stairs just up the road made of wood that are wider and often less crowded. These aren't "the stairs" but I actually prefer them for working out. Usually when I do the stairs workout I start at the top of "the stairs" at the end of 4th street, make my way down to the bottom, take a right, jog about 100 yards and climb the second set of stairs back to the top of the street. Repeat. This is a killer loop that will have your legs burning in no time. Ten laps is a workout for anyone, running or walking. Plus the wooden stairs give a little and are a lot easier on the knees.

When you're done you can make your way up San Vicente or down to the water and stumble upon a variety of places to eat. Sometimes we'll take a nice long walk down to the Fig Tree in Venice. It's a nice place to grab a bite to eat on the beach.

So come on out to the stairs and enjoy yourself. You never know who you might run into. My sister still glows when she tells the story of meeting the late John F. Kennedy Jr. on the stairs. The workout's good for your heart and the people are good for your soul.