The first thing you need to know when you walk into LazRfit, the new gym at the corner of Pico and Grand, is that you’re there to play laser tag. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK_-8MtygwA[/embed]
The second thing you need to know is that this ain’t no child’s game. “You’re gonna run,” says owner Lucie Robert. “We don’t let you hide. You have to move.”
“We designed it so that there are no hidden spaces and it isn’t dark inside,” says Philippe, her husband and business partner. “The game takes five seconds to figure out and a long time to master.”
The couple, both French, met through sports and started playing laser tag for fun. “I noticed how much weight I was losing,” says Lucie. “People think that laser tag is a children’s game but I realized that I was getting a workout.”
In addition to being virtually impossible to hide and rest, once you are hit you have to move a certain amount in order to start shooting again. There are no teams (as of right now) so it’s everyone for themselves, with the leader lighting up in blue “so everyone knows who to shoot,” smiles Philippe.
They also shortened the game, making it an 8–12 minute sprint depending on your skill level. “We started with every game at 12 minutes,” says Philippe, “but for many people those last four minutes are impossible.”
You might think this is an exaggeration. After all, how much of a workout can you have in eight minutes? Turns out, a lot. It’s great,” explains personal trainer Devin Wiggins. “You’re working so many muscle groups at the same time, including the ones in your feet, which is so important.”
“Normally,” Wiggins explains, “we walk in a forward motion. You walk to your car, you walk to your desk. You’re not really utilizing these muscles the way they’re intended to be used. With LazRfit you’re running in so many different directions, jumping off of the structures and trying to dodge being shot at. You’re working a lot of different muscles this way.”
In the end, the goal isn’t just to win. The equipment and gun (which they designed and built) includes a pedometer that tracks your steps, the calories you burn, and your accuracy. Sure, you can attempt to beat Philippe and Lucie at their own game (good luck with that) but you’ll also walk away having burned 800+ calories after two short burst workouts.
So why come to LA rather than start it in Paris? To the couple, it was a no-brainer. “People here really want you to succeed,” says Lucie. “They’re very encouraging and welcoming of our new idea.”
“All over the world, if people see you starting something new in Los Angeles they feel like you’re making something successful,” says Philippe. “We love it here. We live downtown, and love that we can walk everywhere. It’s like Paris in that way.”
Written by Abel Horwitz
Photographed by Kort Havens