Beatrice Ding's Travel Black Book

Cycling studio co-founder Beatrice Ding: Why it's easy to stay active in LA

Take in the view of sunny Los Angeles from Mount Hollywood trail near the Griffith Observatory. Beatrice Ding (above) recommends the observatory for viewing the LA skyline.
Take in the view of sunny Los Angeles from Mount Hollywood trail near the Griffith Observatory. Beatrice Ding recommends the observatory for viewing the LA skyline.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Take in the view of sunny Los Angeles from Mount Hollywood trail near the Griffith Observatory. Beatrice Ding (above) recommends the observatory for viewing the LA skyline.
Take in the view of sunny Los Angeles from Mount Hollywood trail near the Griffith Observatory. Beatrice Ding (above) recommends the observatory for viewing the LA skyline.PHOTO: BEATRICE DING

With hiking trails and juice bars at every corner, it is easy to stay fit and healthy in Los Angeles

Who: Beatrice (Bebe) Ding, 24, co-founder and instructor at CruCycle cycling studio in Duxton Road

Favourite destination: Los Angeles, California

Why: Nothing beats southern California weather. In LA, almost every day is blessed with a clear blue sky. The city also has such an eclectic mix of interesting people who are incredibly friendly, laid-back and ready to tell you their story.

I grew up in both Singapore and LA, where I spent about a third of my life. While I attended Loyola Marymount University in LA, I lived with my siblings and business partners Valerie, 28, and Calvin, 27. We would take road trips to Las Vegas and Mammoth Mountain, and take our huskies for hikes in the Hollywood Hills. In LA, it is always a good day to be outside.

Favourite hotel

The famous Chateau Marmont (www.chateaumarmont.com), a small but well-known French chateau-style hotel in Hollywood.

I love its outdoor garden cafe, which is a great place to people-watch while eating a chopped salad (US$22, S$31) or a grilled chicken whole wheat sandwich (US$17). Celebrities love being undisturbed at Chateau Marmont.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com) in Hollywood Boulevard also has a great vibe. It dates back to the 1920s and has accommodated legends such as Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Now it is a modern, trendy hotel which throws lots of pool parties at Tropicana, its pool-cafe, during the summer.

The SLS Beverly Hills (slshotels.com/beverlyhills) is a contemporary style luxury hotel where I go for innovative cocktails and a great pool with sunset views.

Must eat

I must have sushi at Sugarfish (sugarfishsushi.com) every time I visit. Chef Nozawa has been making sushi for 50 years, and his simple sushi with lots of white vinegar in the rice is highly addictive.

There are eight locations in LA and the staff encourages guests to order from one of the three set menus, which makes ordering very fast and easy. The service is great and the turnover in the restaurant quick, which is good because the restaurant does not take reservations.

People may roll their eyes but some of the best food in LA is the raw, organic and vegetarian kind.

There is a juice bar on almost every corner and there are farmers' markets all over the city featuring the region's best produce, such as ripe avocados, berries and peaches (www.laweekly.com/restaurants/the-ultimate-la-farmers-market-guide-google-map-2895133).

My favourite juice bar is Kreation Kafe. It has many outlets in LA, but I like the ones in Beverly Hills, which is just a store front, and in Abbot Kinney near Venice Beach, which has a sit-down restaurant.

Their juices are freshly made every day with raw, organic, gluten-free ingredients. Charcoalade, dissolved charcoal in sweet water to absorb toxins, is my drink of choice.

Best workout places

Apart from great spinning classes which can be found at Cycle House (www.cyclehousela.com), Soul Cycle (www.soul-cycle.com), Flywheel (www.flywheelsports.com), Burn60 (www.burn60.com) and Hot8Yoga (www.hot8yoga.com) are at the top of my list.

I frequented Burn60's Brentwood location. For the 60-minute class, the instructor has music pumping as he guides you through high- and low-speed intervals on the treadmill, followed by floor work, doing abdominal and arm workouts with equipment like Bosu balls and resistance bands.

They switch the workout up all the time and it is super effective for both strength and endurance training, and weight loss.

Go to Hot8Yoga for Omar's amazing class at the Beverly Hills location. Not only does he play awesome tribal-esque music with good beats during the hour-long hot yoga class, but he also gets you into a rhythmic flow that almost puts you into a trance.

Best activities

There are a lot of great hiking trails around LA, but I find myself going back to Escondido Falls in Malibu where there is a huge waterfall, Temescal Canyon and Parker Mesa Trail, both in the Pacific Palisades.

The 5km run along the beach from Marina Del Rey to Santa Monica is nice at sunset, when it is quiet and has fewer people.

Venice Beach is very interesting for people-watching and is much more crowded. It is where Muscle Beach (www.musclebeach.net/new) is located, a famous outdoor gym where all the bodybuilders go. It is filled with huge, tanned and buff bodybuilders with big personalities.

Another favourite exercise in LA is running stairs. There is the always busy Santa Monica Stairs (www.timeout.com/los-angeles/things-to-do/santa-monica-stairs), close to Malibu. Fitness buffs run up, down and around the two long sets of stairs in a circuit which looks easy but is very hard.

Another option is the Culver City Stairs, which has great views of LA at the top. If you don't want to run the stairs, there are flat trails that zig-zag up the hill too (www.yelp.com.sg/biz/baldwin-hills-scenic-overlook-culver-city).

For surfing, go to Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, or north to Zuma Beach in Malibu.

Best views

Anywhere along the beach is great at sunset.

The Huntley Hotel (www.thehuntleyhotel.com) on Santa Monica beach has a restaurant on the top level which overlooks the ocean and is a good place for brunch.

In Malibu, Geoffrey's restaurant (www.geoffreysmalibu.com/home) also has an awesome ocean-front view, and Moonshadows restaurant and bar (www.moonshadowsmalibu.com) has an outdoor patio where you can watch dolphins swim by.

Griffith Observatory (www.griffithobservatory.org) is a great place to watch the LA skyline glow.

Best hidden find

The Spadena House (www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/exclusive-look-inside-witchs-house-beverly-hills), a storybook meets art nouveau style house that was originally built in the 1920s for a movie studio before it was moved to its current location in Beverly Hills.

It is also known as the Witches House, for its spooky, Grimm Brothers' look, and when I went "trick-or-treating" at Halloween, coming to this house was the main event.

Event to bookmark

I recommend that everybody experience the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (www.coachella.com), a giant adult-oriented carnival held in an empty polo field.

With a huge ferris wheel, lots of artwork and sculptures,and music of all genres, Coachella trumps all other music festivals and has an extremely photogenic sunny Palm Springs location to boot.

Ideal length of stay

I suggest seven to 10 days to really experience the city. Keep in mind that LA traffic can be terrible and be a hindrance to your plans. Divide your agenda into regions - Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Malibu; Brentwood and Beverly Hills; downtown LA and Hollywood - and go to one each day.

Recommended guides

I use EaterLA (la.eater.com) for restaurants, Time Out (www.timeout.com/los-angeles) and Discover Los Angeles (www.discoverlosangeles.com) for events.

Insider tip

It gets cold at night, even after a hot summer day, so bring a light jacket. Do not forget to tip at least 15 per cent at restaurants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'Active in LA'. Print Edition | Subscribe