As I queued for an iced Americano, I heard a grumble about a new competitor at the inaugural gym in Hollywood, dangerously close to my apartment. A man in front of me whispers, “It’s like an Equinox encounter with Soho House, with a splash of WeWork.” I wipe saliva off my chin and inquire how one enters such a magical place.
Turns out he was talking about Heimat, a “fitness concept club,” where membership is by app only, which means: Send us your Instagram username and…we’ll call you back. on it neat site, I learned that “hemat” is a German word used to describe “that familiar feeling your heart gets at home.” And with the famous phrase, “There’s no place like Heimat,” it gives Wizard of Oz, if Oz a shredded personal trainer and wellness specialist.
Membership is $150 a month for those under 25 (lucky), and $350 a month for soldiers like me (although when I joined, that fee was $250 a month). I do some quick mental arithmetic to decipher how many snowy Americans I’d have to sacrifice to make up for this (too much) cost and hit apply. I’m 29, gay, and in many ways, alone – there’s no time to waste.
After two days I will tour the place. The email directs me to enter through a back alley through a golden door. I’m Dorothy, and this is my yellow-brick road. I walked into a dimly lit living room/lounge lined with open bookshelves and velvet furniture. There is a fireplace without fire and a bar cart without alcohol. A guy with a shaggy pompadour introduces me to a woman with pigtails called Poupy who will be my guide.
I do my best to put up with someone who wants nothing because Bobby is showing me the kingdom. The first floor houses traditional weight lifting equipment and there is a separate cardio room with light fixtures in the shape of clouds. The design is undoubtedly interesting – the ceilings are high; The device is elegant; walls are marble, mirrored, or frescoed, with large windows framing a breathtaking view of La Brea’s traffic. “Oh, wow!” I gasped.
The second floor contains the locker rooms, sauna, and spa, as well as a meditation room lined with daybeds and blankets (which, forgive me, but its proximity to the men in their various undresses feels like a sex room). The third floor has more machines and rooms for classes – Heimat offers everything from boxing to heated yoga – and the fourth floor is the building’s only public access floor, where Chef Michael Mina’s Michelin-starred restaurant is located. Native language and a private rooftop pool and hot tub. The fifth and final floor is a great co-working space where I’m sure I’ll finish off the non-existent scenario.
When she brought me back to the hallway, Poupy asked me what I was doing at work. I’m blowing the job title to impress her, but she’s already bidding me goodbye. The man with the pompadour came back, and I told him, undisturbed, that I was considering switching from the Equinox because the Heimat is so much closer to my apartment. It’s not quite right – I go to Crunch where the air conditioning has been broken for several months – but again I feel compelled to confirm some sort of lineage. He told me they were overloaded with requests but would be in touch soon. I say thank you, wave goodbye to Poupy and try not to let the golden door bump into me on my way out.
Almost two weeks before I hear back. They love to play hard to get. I open the email with amazement – accepted! – And don’t waste time reading DocuSign. When I got to the total, $550 including registration fees (more than I’ve ever paid for a gym in my life), I took a deep breath and pulled out my credit card. I feel almost perverted joy when I write down the numbers and whisper, “I’m doing this for I. “
Lee cut opening Grindr during my first five minutes in the facility as a new member. It is important to have land. Sadly, the closest profile is more than 1,000 feet away, but I won’t lose hope.
I walk around picking up the dumbbells and putting them down. I try to act like I know where everything is, as if I was born to be here. The place is almost completely empty. I feel at any moment that security might escort me outside, kicking and yelling, “I just wanted community!”
However, I insist. I return every day faithfully and soon realize that in my rush to accept, I forgot to ask a few questions. With no clue in sight, I try to talk my inquiries through to several employees so I don’t seem too needy. Is there a steam room? No (destructive). Is pool water salt or chlorine? Chlorine (in 2022?). “Can we bring guests?” Two per year, otherwise the daily ticket is $100 (you have to laugh).
Over the course of the week, I noticed more and more people catching up with the place. For the first time, a “I need” machine was busy and I was forced to wait for my turn. I am trying to book a Pilates class but everyone has a waiting list. On more than one occasion, she’s walked into an influencer taking shirtless bathroom selfies (in her defense, backlit mirrors make the body flatter). I still run into #Heimat TikToks, with captions like “Am I going to spend all my days here” and “Soho House Who?” Katy Perry even surfaces one night. When I hear they are starting to limit membership, I breathe a sigh of relief.
An email with the subject “Heimat Happenings” invites me to some member-only events. I reply to get a free IV (of what? I’m not asking, I’m just giving the IV blindly) and a free drink for my first “golden hour sessions” poolside. I met a woman there who said to me, “This is the best thing to happen to the neighborhood in years.” I’m so confused because we’re in Hollywood, where new restaurants and “concept spaces” seem to open daily, but the light is so bright in her eyes that I let it go. Her husband says they thought of Soho House but resented their arrogance. “People here are more eager to talk.” And I looked around, I must agree. It’s an eclectic mix of bright-eyed Angelenos, who come to life in this common space that’s almost too good to be true.
But I still want to hate her. Heimat is totally over the top, from its exorbitant prices to its flashy designs to its frourou discourse on self-realization and community building. A bottle of water will cost you $7 and the staff are determined to wear golden shoes. However, what scares me is, as soon as I stop moving my eyes, I find that I’m actually meeting new people and I’m starting to feel, dare I say… completely at home.
One Saturday, I brave the pool by myself. The attendant guides me to an open chair. “Chill House music” plays loud enough to make reading while keeping it impossible, so I kind of blur my vision in an article on climate breakdown when I hear, “You stole my chair.”
I look up to see a man my age, dripping wet and smiling. My heart jumps – society? – And shook up, I apologise. He assured me that it was fine, he would use the next chair. We talk about space, compare notes, and reflect on our good fortune. “I live here now,” he jokes. Vibes are good so we plan to have drinks the next week. We decided we would meet at, you guessed it, Heimat. We’ll get an $18 cocktail at Mother Tongue. Because, at this point, why would you go anywhere else?