Image courtesy of Ritual Gym

A new gym has made a home in Santa Monica, a place full of fitness freaks. But with Gold’s Gym, the upscale Equinox and even the sci-fi-tinged Bulletproof Labs, what could a new gym possibly have to offer local residents?

Singapore-based Ritual Gym might have a unique solution for Santa Monica busybodies.

The gym’s owners, former Pro-MMA athlete Brad Robinson and Internationally-Certified Fitness Coach Ian Tan, claim they can give people an intense, full-body workout in just 20 minutes, requesting 30 minutes of someone’s day for the full workout with warmups and all.

The duo came up with the concept after Robinson tried a workout by Tan and was left quite literally floored after only 20 minutes, panting and gasping for breath while he recovered. It was then the two knew they were on to something. 

“By keeping exercise bite-sized, you make it easier to get it in today which is important because across the globe, ‘lack of time’ is the number one excuse for not exercising,” founder Brad Robinson said via email. “What really separates us is the level of convenience we provide.”

Using HIIT—high intensity interval training—the gym has would-be gym goers clinging from pull-up rings, lifting dumbbells and swinging kettlebells all in meaningful movement patterns that combine strength and cardio, making the sweat puddles form almost immediately.

Tan explained what makes Ritual, located off Wilshire and 3rd Court, different.

Ritual is based in Singapore, why Santa Monica for a location?

Yes, we started Ritual almost seven years ago in the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Singapore. Since then, we’ve expanded to five continents. We have outlets open in Brazil, South Africa, Spain, and now, Santa Monica, with multiple new outlets in the pipeline across the US, Europe and Asia. Turns out there are busy people everywhere!

In many ways, Santa Monica (and Los Angeles in general) is the center of the fitness world. The consumer here may be the most sophisticated in terms of fitness knowledge and expected service standards, which is precisely why we’re here. It’s exciting because we’ve had to do very little product education since being in Santa Monica. People already know that HIIT works, that short workouts are the future, and that quality movement is paramount. All we’ve needed to do is show people the convenience, efficiency and user-friendliness we provide, and everyone gets it straight away.

What separates your gym from similar HIIT gyms or something like BulletProof Labs?

We’re the gym for busy people and the smoothness of the service goes beyond being able to be in and out in 30 minutes. We’re the only gym that literally runs a session every 30 minutes, all day long, from early in the morning to late at night. As a client, this means you’ll never need to miss another workout. If you have a 3 p.m. session booked, but your 2 p.m. meeting runs late (which happens to all of us), in 2 clicks via our app, you can cancel and re-book for the 3:30 p.m. session. No stress. Instead of you having to conform to the schedule of the gym you go to, we fit into your schedule, whenever you can.

With this level of convenience, when your 11 a.m. meeting cancels on you last-minute tomorrow (which also happens to all of us), you can book a session in a matter of seconds through the app, show up in your dress and heels with no gym gear, squeeze a session in, and be showered and out the door by 11:30 a.m. Yes, we provide literally everything you need, including seven showers (with a maximum of 10 people in each session) and great hairdryers.

Does Robinson remember what his first workout was? What should potential Ritual-goers expect?

Brad Robinson: The workouts we were doing were exactly the same as we do at Ritual – using fundamental movement patterns that get you great results safely, and with the perfect combination of strength and cardio. What really sold it for me is that I was working out in the same session as a friend who was getting his health back in order after surviving cancer and another friend who was training for the cover of a popular fitness magazine and nobody felt judged or intimidated.

Ian made it so clear that it is about you as the individual, not you in comparison to the super-fit girl next to you. That’s the true beauty of what we do – come in, as you are, whoever you are, because this is about you and your own journey.

Can a fitness newbie enroll or is this a gym for people with fitness backgrounds?

This gym is for everyone. Yes, intensity is important, but intensity is also relative. If you haven’t exercised in five years, walking up five flights of stairs may be all the intensity you need today. But if you’ve been exercising regularly for the last year, you might need to sprint up that same five flights of stairs to get the right intensity.

We have a maximum of 10 people in each session, meaning you’ll get a quality of coaching and personalization that is unheard of in other group fitness offerings. It’s not just about having a fun, motivational environment – it’s about making it safe and supportive, too.

Your journey with us also starts with a little bit of one-on-one time with one of our coaches so we can help you find the right starting point and walk you through what we do at the gym. This way, you don’t have to feel lost or intimidated by the whole thing when you first come in.

Is there a target demographic for this gym?

While we do have 3 levels of progression that caters to literally all fitness levels, the people that love us the most are the ones who are always on the go, who see the value in getting it done in half the amount of time.

We’re very popular amongst people who understand that they need to push hard enough to get results, but not so hard that they have trouble focusing at their next meeting. We make it a point to help people train for improvement, not fatigue, because there is no glory in how many push-ups you do at the gym today. The real glory comes outside of the gym, in the important stuff like your family and career. Use exercise as a tool to make you better at those things.

How did you guys boil down a complete work out to just 30 mins?

That’s the beauty of working with intensity. If you do it right, you can get your cardio and strength training in during the same workout. The science backing this up is overwhelming – 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training with functional movements is more than enough to keep you lean, healthy and strong.

You can find exercise science research on the use of HIIT in athletic populations dating back to the 50s and 60s, so the concept is nothing new. What we’ve done is package it in the most user-friendly way available. By keeping exercise bite-sized, you make it easier to get it in today, which is important because across the globe, ‘lack of time’ is the number 1 excuse for not exercising.

How much has HIIT training and now this gym changed both of your lives?

On the surface, it’s definitely made us look at everything through the lens of efficiency and productivity. Deeper than that, though, it’s about the people that we have the privilege of working with across the globe. Together, we get to be catalysts for positive change. It’s not just about fitness – it’s about the positive, supportive culture and the impact we can have on our clients. It is this empowerment, of our clients and our teams, that is the most inspiring.

Why should a Santa Monica resident choose your gym?

Most people don’t realize that the 30 minutes you get when you walk through these doors might be the only time today where you can truly focus on yourself for a half-hour. We try really hard to create an experience for you that allows you to disengage from the chaos of your day so you can prime yourself to be the best version of you.

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