Owner and Co-Founder of one of Los Angeles’ hottest gyms, The Sweat Shoppe, Mimi Benz is a multifaceted fitness guru with a strong passion for travel. Her spin studio has been a pioneer in the fitness community, as it was the first of its kind to offer heated classes when it opened in 2011, eventually transitioning to a fully-heated space two years later.
— — —
Sean Ritchie: To start off with somewhere local, I know you’re in Los Angeles. Is that were you grew up? What about the city stands out to you?
Mimi Benz: Yeah, born and raised. It’s not my city of choice in terms of favorite city to live in, but it’s home. The weather is pretty fantastic.
Photo courtesy | James Gubera
SR: Have you lived elsewhere?
MB: I’ve lived in Europe and I’ve lived in San Diego. San Diego is a great city.
SR: What would you suggest a first-time visitor to do when in LA for the first time?
MB: Definitely hit up the beaches. The one thing a lot of Angelinos don’t do is visit the beaches frequently. The California coastline is what we’re kind of known for. It’s pretty spectacular, so the beaches for sure. Santa Monica is a lot of fun. Hollywood, just so you can say that you’ve been there. There are quite a few characters that kind of linger on Hollywood Boulevard, and there is a lot to see. Those would definitely be my top three.
Photo courtesy | Suzanne
SR: Nice, now to the Sweat Shoppe. How long has it been around? What was your inspiration? Was this something you’ve always wanted to do?
MB: So, I lived in Europe for two years when I was a teenager. I had such a great experience over there in terms of their fitness culture; everyone’s so active over there. So, when I came back I just kind of [appreciated it more]. Everyone talks about how much people in LA sit in their cars, and it’s true. Not a lot of time is spent outdoors here. We’re spending a lot of time commuting. I got a little bit of cabin feverish almost. I needed a way to let that sport activity out. So, I took to working out.
Then, when I was 16 I took my first spinning class and I haven’t stopped since. So, I’ve been spinning for a very long time. I actually put myself through college working at different gyms in LA. When I was done with college I actually started pursuing fitness. I became a certified personal trainer, and then I got my Pilates and spinning certifications. I then met my husband at a spinning studio. We got married, had a kid and then the two of us decided that we wanted to open up our own fitness studio. The idea of Sweat Shoppe happened shortly after I had my first son in 2010. We then opened our doors in 2011. We’ve been open for just over four years now.
SR: I was reading up a bit about it and there’s a difference between your spin studio and others. You have a higher temperature throughout the gym?
MB: Yeah, our thing is that we’re heated. We’re the first heated indoor cycling studio in the country. There’s a science behind all of it too. After I had my son I took to heated yoga to drop the baby weight. My husband and I are both the kind of workout people that hate to workout in a cold environment. We were just naturally drawn to heated workouts. We found research on heated workouts in relation to cyclists and athletes using it as a training tool.
When we opened our doors the first two years we had half heated and half non-heated classes to test the waters out. It was a scary idea. No one was really doing it. By the end of year two, we phased out all the non-heated classes just based on demand. People were really responding to it and enjoying it. That became our identity as a studio.
SR: What kind of traveler are you? More relaxed on the beach or are you active looking for adventure?
MB: We travel quite a bit now and days for fitness. Now that I’m a mom I definitely prefer the relaxing, beachy vibe when it comes to traveling. If I’m going to get on a plane a really go anywhere, I’m going to want to unwind and just disconnect from work. Before I had kids it was pretty much the opposite, more outdoorsy, active vacations. Now it’s more just finding a beach we can lay out on and not move.
SR: Wellness travel is a growing trend by the day. What are some tips that you have to stay active and fit while away when not vegetating on the beach?
MB: Most hotels have gyms, so definitely hit them up to get a little cardio in on the treadmill or stationary bike. If you’re going anywhere where there is not a gym, if it’s a beautiful location, just go for a run. Take advantage of the landscape environment that you’re in. Go for a hike or swim too, any kind of movement daily. Even if it’s not in a workout environment, it can still be a workout.
Photo courtesy | Jeremy Hall
SR: Absolutely, that kind of on-foot movement through a destination is probably the most personal you can get to it.
MB: Yeah, and it’s more enjoyable too I would think. If you’re in Hawaii hiking, the environment is so beautiful and you’re probably not even thinking that you’re working out.
SR: Food is kind of synonymous with travel in many ways. Do you have a diet that coincides with your fitness routine?
MB: Yeah, we always say at the Sweat Shoppe that it’s 80 percent diet and 20 percent physical activity. Food will make or break your results. If you’re working out a ton and you’re eating like crap it will just kill it. Diet is crucial and talked about a lot [here]. When it comes to traveling I always take food with me. It’s an absolute must. I pack meals and take healthy snacks, because you never know. The airplanes are terrible about nutrition. The airports are always hit or miss as well. I know there are some airports that have pretty great choices though. Always go in prepared by kind of packing your own.
Photo courtesy | Caribb
SR: When you do cheat though, is there a cuisine that stands out?
MB: I love Italian. I can’t say no to pasta. That definitely would be my cheat meal.
SR: Have you had it in Italy?
MB: Yes, I have! It’s definitely amazing and worth the trip over there. You’ve got to hit up Italy for some fresh pasta.
SR: Everyone has a bucket list – a list a destinations that they haven’t been to, but want to see. Are there a few on yours? What are they?
MB: Yes, I have never been to Australia. That’s definitely one of the top places on the list, Sydney, because of the culture over there. They are very fitness oriented. I just have to wrap my head around that long flight. I have always wanted to see Pompeii in Italy. Even though I’ve been to Italy, I’ve never been to Pompeii, which is an old excavation site where the volcano erupted there and destroyed the city. They were able to excavate the whole thing. I find that really fascinating. Then, I’d have to say Costa Rica. I have a lot of friends that have been there and talked about how it’s just the most amazing place. That would be my third.
Photo courtesy | Frank Kehren
SR: I actually went to Costa Rica about two years ago and it’s stunning, absolutely stunning topography. Lastly, when’s the next trip and what for?
MB: The next trip we’re planning is a family vacation. We’re hoping for the summer time, because that’s when our kids are out of school. We’re planning a trip to Kauai, Hawaii.
— — —
For more on The Sweat Shoppe visit their website: