West Hollywood’s elite Unbreakable Performance Center is no basic gym, and its A-list clientele wouldn’t have it any other way. I hit it up to find out why.
There are accounts of mothers who have lifted automobiles off their children, an electric jolt of adrenaline giving them heroic strength in the face of the unthinkable. My experience at Unbreakable Performance Center—a gym encased in deceivingly playful hot pink paint just above Sunset Boulevard—was not quite as dramatic, but it felt close. I was left quivering, both knees buckling under my dripping frame, as if something traumatic had happened. But I was also empowered. This is an elite gym where actors Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson train. Where musicians like Usher, Wiz Khalifa and Nick and Joe Jonas sweat. Where professional athletes—think legends like Terrell Owens, Aaron Rodgers, DeAndre Jordan and Rashad Jennings—outnumber the “regular” people. And where I, on my first visit, in a varied workout group comprising a 7'2" professional basketball player and smaller race car driver, almost threw up between sets while shakily attempting to down a mid-session amino acid beverage.
The uniquely collaborative vibe attracted plant-fueled professional mixed martial artist Heather Jo Clark, whose first session was led by Glass and included hitting pads with MMA fighter Jason Borba, then rolling with actor Scott Caan, a jiu-jitsu black belt about her size who taught her a few things too.
“The music, the vibe—it was a mixture of entertainment professionals and pro athletes, and I knew immediately I wanted to train there,” she says. Going five days a week, she performed strength and conditioning exercises alongside NFL, NHL and NBA guys, and she also showed them MMA techniques. “It was the first time I had the pleasure of coaching such high-level athletes outside of my sport,” adds the fighter, who recently moved to Colorado.
It’s not rare for people to become instantly addicted to the one-of-a-kind center. “First day, I loved it,” says nutritionist and now-manager Leia Sergakis, who began working at Unbreakable just weeks after her first session—it was that great a fit. “I have always loved to box, so being able to go through a lift then box right after was a game changer for me,” she says. Led by creator Jay Glazer, an MMA trainer and Fox Sports NFL insider, she says the energy and people combine to create “one crazy family.”
The first person I saw upon walking in was singer Demi Lovato, and I realized there were almost equal numbers of laser-focused men and women working out side by side, doing the exact same routines. Our trainer was the Amazonian former Olympian Kim Glass, who read off a clipboard exercises that might as well have been in Greek. Equally inscrutable were the insane-looking pieces of equipment, like the Sproing, a bouncy trampoline-like surface with a Velcro waist belt on a spiral cord (for running), 35-pound weight vests (“light,” since I was new) and hefty battle ropes (not as fun as they appear).
The amazing thing, besides the fact that I completed the entire workout and didn’t cry once, is the camaraderie between members. I got fist bumps from my sweat-soaked, panting fitness mates and shouts of “You got this!” from trainers. Motivation also comes from looking around at the almost scary-strong bodies and minds and realizing to quit wouldn’t simply be embarrassing; it would be shameful. Still, there’s not so much as a whiff of competition (well, except against yourself) or negativity. Instead, there’s a communal energy everyone is drawing from and contributing to.
Glazer is anti-mirror, and no one seems to miss them. Sergakis says this “really makes you focus on muscle engagement and memory instead of watching yourself.” For more than a year, she’s done near-daily workouts at Unbreakable, which have taken her body to the next level—in what she calls “a realistic and sustainable way.”
Clark trusted her trainers so wholly she felt no need for mirrors. The trainers helped advance her strength in her weakest areas—namely her core, which was put to work in every scenario.
Says Clark, “Miracles happen when you push past your limits.” The whole team constantly helps members do just that.
These are the motivational and nutritional tools the pros use.
1. “Remember your why—why you are training so hard,” says Sergakis. “What are your goals, your dreams? I constantly [keep] in the forefront of my mind … if you think about skipping out or quitting, it will push you to get your ass up and give it your all!”
2. Says Clark, “I tell everyone: whenever you feel like quitting, you have to keep going. This is the moment you are getting stronger, when your body is gaining not only muscle strength, but mental strength as well.”
3. As a nutritionist, Sergakis advises listening closely to your body. “Don’t fall into the cookie cutter approach to a diet—just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will for you.”
4. Clark uses the app MyFitnessPal to track her macros, which she believes should be eaten in thirds: one-third fat, one-third protein and one-third carbs. Additionally, she uses a sports line of supplements, including a multi, vitamin B12 and vitamin C sprays, vegan DHA and a green superfood powder.
Inspiring members means more than helping them push through a tough set. Sergakis encourages plant-based options and products through workshops and education. (Clark, too, says comrades frequently talked to her about being vegan.)
Members can get a taste of it by choosing a vegan option for their customized post-workout Muscle Milk protein shakes, one of many perks they get for their membership fee, which starts at $2,000 per month. One-and-a-half to four hours is what they usually spend at Unbreakable per session, though it’s not all agonizing and sweaty—there’s an equal emphasis placed on recovery. The workouts might break you down, but Glazer’s goal is to build you back up so you can train even harder. There’s a cryotherapy chamber, myofascial release, IV infusions, acupuncture, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and a $130,000 laser that breaks up scar tissue and inflammation six inches deep, all included in the membership.
And sure, I had legitimate trouble walking down stairs for several days, despite doing an abbreviated NormaTec session (in which a ski pant-like outfit fills with air, compressing the muscles and squeezing out lactic acid). But I was high off the intense feeling of survival, empowered and motivated to return ASAP to see what else my body was capable of.