Let’s Go Hiking! (with Kids in Los Angeles)

As the weather begins to warm up (OK, it was never really that cold to begin with…) we Angelenos love to head outside!  Check out these amazing hiking trails located all over the city – near and far, easy and hard, as well as family friendly.  Thank you MommyPoppins.com for all the great detailed information.


We can’t literally climb walls. But we’ve all found ourselves – on long weekends, spring breaks, sick days, you name it – feeling like we might be nearing the ceiling. Whether it’s the whining or the post-play mess, the “I’m bored,” the fussiness after a missed nap, or all of the above, there are moments when even the best of us loving and dedicated parents want up. Or, more likely, out.

So go ahead; get out. Head to thetrails. Take a hike. We’ve compiled a list of fantastic hiking destinations for you and your little cherubs. Because we know from experience that climbing a mountain sure beats climbing a wall. (Oh – and if you’re pushing someone up that mountain, you may want the stroller-friendly hikes.)

But wait. Before you go, have a look at the following suggestions. We want to make your outing is as seamless as possible:

  • Many trails have variable shade. No trees can mean hot sun; remember the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, snacks, and lots of water.
  • Trails are often shared by hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. Remember to watch for bikes and horse droppings.
  • Weekends see a rise in visitors at all parks. This may mean competition for parking and more people on the trails.
  • Due to recent state budget cuts, some parks have had to scale back staff, trail maintenance, and operating hours; some have even closed. Weather (rain, erosion, fires) can also impact trail availability. We advise you call ahead before you go to make sure your intended destination is ready to welcome you. Browsing this park closure list might also be helpful.

1. Griffith Park – Los Angeles
4730 Crystal Springs Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Park hours: 5:30am-10:30pm. Trails close at sunset.
Parking: Free
Dogs on leashes allowed on trails

Certainly one of LA’s jewels, Griffith Park might very well have it all: a merry-go-roundan observatory, and an old train park. What’s more, there are trails, and lots of them.

Insiders recommend the Charlie Turner Trail. Park at the Observatory and begin your climb up Mt. Hollywood. On a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with views of the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and the Westside, as well as a closer peek at the Hollywood Sign. The round-trip is less than three miles, with an elevation of roughly 1,000 feet. Eat a snack on picnic tables at the top of the trail. Or grab lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe at the End of the Universe located in the Observatory. Beware of crowds on the weekends (the trail is a popular destination), the sun on a hot day (hydrate and wear sun screen), and horse poop.

Or, hike to the Observatory from another direction. Start the two-mile loop atFerndell Gardens (scroll down for parking directions), breezing by a shady fern and succulent-lined brook, past stone retaining walls, and over footbridges. Continue along a dusty road through chaparral to the Observatory. Grab some pre- or post-hike grub at The Trails Cafe. The trail is well-traveled on the weekend, so beware of crowds. Morning or late afternoon hiking is best on hot days. Dogs are welcome

For an easier Griffith Park hike, try the Fern Canyon Trail. Park at the the first Merry-Go-Round parking lot and head beyond the t-bar gate. The  trail goes uphill and passes the old zoo. You will most likely see people-friendly gophers, squirrels, and woodpeckers along the way, as well as picnic tables for your snack-time use. Trail length varies depending on which way you choose to walk. Enjoy views of Glendale and Pasadena at the top of the full 400-foot elevation trail.

2. Franklin Canyon Park – Beverly Hills
2600 Franklin Canyon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Park Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Dogs on leashes allowed

Why is this area such a favorite? The Sooky Goldman Nature Center, duck pond, reservoir, and traditional kish (Tongva hut) might have something to do with it. Add the fact that it’s 605 acres big and has five miles of trails to explore, and, well, you get the idea. Trails vary from simple to moderately strenuous. Favorites include the roughly two-mile Hastain Trail (which has been in the news this last year) with elevations that often offer an ocean view on a clear day. The trail head can be reached by entering the park from either Beverly Hills or the Valley, and heading south on Lake Drive. Two trail heads and parking are available on the left side. Or meander around Franklin Canyon Lake (the opening sequence of the Andy Griffith Show was filmed here).  Kids of all ages can also enjoy an easy stroll around Heavenly Pond with its ducks and sometimes noisy bullfrogs. Thistrail map might help orient you, as will an initial visit to the Nature Center (310.858.7272, ext. 131).

Note: Be sure to stop at all stop signs in the park, to avoid unpleasant surprises in the mail a few weeks later!

3. Temescal Gateway Park – Pacific Palisades
15601 Sunset Blvd.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Park Hours: Every day, dawn to dusk
Dogs on leashes allowed

Easy to get to and bursting with things to see and do, Temescal Gateway Park is a simple and satisfying destination. Popular trails include the four-mile Temescal Canyon Loop complete with ocean views, seasonal waterfall, and rock “climbing.” Or park in the first lot as you enter the park (closest to Sunset Blvd.) and chart your own route along the creek. Have lunch or a snack at the big tree with platform for seating.

4. Topanga Canyon State Park
20829 Entrada Road
Topanga Canyon, CA 90290

Park Hours: 8:00am – sunset
Parking: $4
Dogs not allowed on trails.

Considered “the largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city,” Topanga Canyon State Park offers acres to explore (14,000 to be exact). Park at Trippet Ranch (map) and start off on several fascinating trails. For the adventurous, try the four- to five-mile (depending on how you go) loop around Eagle Rock (seephotos). The trailhead is at the southeast corner of the Trippet Ranch parking lot. Or meander through lush meadows (especially after our rainy season) on the shorter Musch Trail. While there are several ways to access Topanga Canyon trails, Trippet Ranch is a favorite as it provides picnic tables, information, and restrooms (phew).

5. Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
4100 South La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Park Hours: Daily 6am – sunset
Parking: $6 on weekends and holidays, free on weekdays
Dogs on leashes allowed

Another multi-activity destination, Kenneth Hahn not only has trails to explore but also delights with playgrounds, a duck pond, playing fields, and lots of open green space. This is a great hiking or walking spot if you have young kids. Trails are more like walking paths, and you can walk for as little or as much as you like, with a place to picnic and run around once you’re done. Trail maps are not available online but can be found in the park office, located in the second parking lot on the right (after passing the entrance kiosk). The office is open daily from 8:30am-5:00pm.

6. Palos Verdes/South Bay Destinations
White Point Nature Preserve
1600 West Paseo del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731
Preserve open daily from sunrise to sunset
Free Parking
Dogs on leashes allowed

In addition to an education center, the Preserve offers 102 acres of restored land and miles of hiking areas. Have a look at the trail maps and descriptions to find one that suits your family. The education center is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00am-4:00pm. (Map)

Those in the Palos Verdes “hiking know” also recommend the Palos Verdes Views trail. This pleasant 1.6 mile romp offers a stunning look at Catalina Island, and sometimes even San Nicholas Island, 70 miles from shore. Park at Del Cerro Park (where Crenshaw Blvd. ends in Palos Verdes) and head to the gate at the very end of Crenshaw. Beyond the gate, follow the fire road. Dogs are allowed on leashes, but beware of tics.

7. Orange County
Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
28373 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Open 7am – sunset
Parking: $3
Dogs on leashes allowed

A fun and doable family walk is Dripping Cave. This moderate five-mile loop brings you to a cavernous space where stagecoach robbers actually hid out and stashed their goods years ago; burn marks from their fires are still visible. Park in the main parking area. The trail head is just beyond the picnic area.

Crystal Cove State Park – Orange County
8471 North Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Dogs on leashes are allowed on multi-use trails, but not on backcountry trails or beaches.

(Due to rain and erosion, the back country trails have been temporarily closed. Call ahead to determine when trails reopen.)

Seventeen miles of hiking trails through 2,400 acres of native wilderness? Yes, please! Choose from a variety of mild to strenuous trails and loops that offer ocean views, riparian woodlands, and the splendor of Morro Creek. Start or end the day (depending on the tides) combing the tide pools. Take a peak at the many historic cottages lining the coast. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at theBeachcomber Cafe. The cafe offers shuttle service from the Los Trancos parking lot. Parking is $15.

Thanks to the Orange County Hiking Club, detailed descriptions and photos of several other area hikes can be found for your consideration.

Self-led hikes mean you can go at your own convenience and pace; but if a docent-led group hike also appeals, have a look at these organizations that offer regular walks and hikes for kids…

1. Children’s Nature Institute
For more than 25 years this local non-profit has provided walks and classes all around the LA area that encourage kids ages eight and younger to explore the natural world, to wonder, touch, feel, and to ask, ‘Why?” Check out the group’s calendar for upcoming Family Nature Walks as well as the Tykes on Trailsprogram.

2. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Outings abound throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. Choose from a Porch Talk with a Ranger on a variety of topics (they serve hot chocolate), a Full Moon Hike or A Family Nature Walk (to name just a few). Click on the interactiveOUTDOORS Calendar of Events for more information. Or browse their catalog for more ideas that might fit your schedule. Kids 8-13 might also be interested in becoming a Junior Ranger.

This article originally posted on Mommy Poppins: http://la.mommypoppins.com/lakids/10-best-los-angeles-area-hikes-with-kids

March is National Nutrition Month

Everyone can make a change to eat better and increase activity; you just need the right tools! Use these tips to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Focus on your food. Pick one place to sit down and eat at home. Eating while doing other things may lead to eating more than you think. Sounds crazy with little ones running around?? Sitting and eating not only helps you eat the proper amount, but also teaches your kids to sit and eat a healthful meal.

Balance your plate with a variety of foods. Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, about one fourth with lean meat, poultry fish, low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese and one fourth with grains.

Know when you’ve had enough to eat. Quit before you feel full or stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you stop feeling hungry. So, fast eaters—slow down and give your brain a chance to get the message!

Get plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Fiber can help you feel full longer. Try adding blueberries to your yogurt or broccoli to your pasta.

Watch portion sizes to manage your calorie intake. Make a fist. That is about the size of your stomach. You wouldn’t grab more than you could hold, so don’t overfill your stomach with more than it can handle. Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses can help you keep portions under control.

Eat Breakfast. ?There’s no better way to start your morning than with a healthy breakfast. Include lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, sliced almonds and berries, or top a toaster waffle with low-fat yogurt and fruit.

Snack smart. Include snacks as part of your daily calorie allowance and limit portions to one serving. Plan for nutritious snacks to prevent between-meal hunger. Keep portable, healthy snacks in your desk, diaper bag or car – trail mix, peanut butter and whole grain crackers, or string cheese and strawberries.

Drink More Water

Our bodies depend on water to regulate temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry away waste products and so much more. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty and always carry a water bottle with you.

Enact Family Meal Time – Family meals promote healthier eating. Plan to eat as a family at least?a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to be a good example and teach them about healthy eating habits and good nutrition.

Be Active -?Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get 2 hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

For more information visit http://www.eatright.org/NNM/content.aspx?id=7832#.UT1oCGj3Du0

Free workout and lunch on Wednesdy, March 6th!

Join me this Wednesday, March 6th at Pan Pacific Park at 10am for a free workout and lunch!

My Fit Foods will be joining T.O.T. Fitness for this special event to provide you with a quick, healthy lunch following the workout.

Visit their website www.myfitfoods.com to learn more.

We meet in front of the community center on Beverly Blvd.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Hotel Transylvania Live

As much as I love being active, I also love watching TV and movies. I like to escape reality and enjoy another world, a different time and place. And I’m pretty sure I have passed this love onto my kids as well.
But, my kids don’t just sit and watch to be entertained, they are in search of new ways to play and new characters to portray.
I took my son and nephew (little background here – I took two 4 year old boys to the movies… Sounds like an awesome idea, right??) well, it could have gone either way as any mom of a 4 year old knows… But on this day, at this movie, it went way better than expected!
With the opportunity to see Hotel Transylvania once again, I took the boys for their fourth viewing. They intently watched the creatures move across the screen, memorizing their actions and mastering their voices so they could go home and become Dracula, Frankenstein, zombies, the werewolf, and the “human monster” (as the boys so named him). After enjoying the screen version we were privy to the live action play.

The boys (excuse me, Monsters) flew, stomped, moaned and crawled around the house in their reenactment. And, in true form, my son the music lover insisted we play the soundtrack so we could all enjoy the party scene in our living room. Literally hours of sweaty entertainment!

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon. Next week is Super Bowl though, I may have to pad the walls?!

Breanna Bond – 9 years old, 66 pounds lighter

I just opened up my safari to do some work and this story about 9 year old Breanna Bond losing 66 pounds popped up on the rotation in the yahoo homepage.   Immediately interested, I opened the link and watched the clip from Good Morning America.

My full congratulations to this little girl who changed her life for the better through better eating habits and increased physical activity.


Ok, they have her on a swim team and it sounds as though she plays other sports, but her main source of daily physical activity is 1 hour and 15 minutes on a treadmill!  That doesn’t sound like fun to me, and I love working out!

And, the main focus of her diet is a restriction to 20g of fat/day.  I’m not saying yay or nay to this as I don’t have a lot of other details, but at the age of 9 to be that focused on fat intake, I would be extremely worried about 30 year old Breanna Bond.

The part that confuses me the most is that they talked about how Breanna had been heavy from the onset, weighing 100 pounds in Kindergarten.  To put this in perspective for those of you who don’t have kids, my daughter, who in all honestly is petite, weighed about 30/35 pounds in Kindergarten.  Let’s say the average is more like 40/45.  And at that point the parents had her tested and found nothing physically wrong with her… so what was happening in her environment that was causing her to be so overweight??  Obviously, many unanswered questions by the 5 minute clip on the early morning talk show.  I’m so happy the parents ultimately took a stand and helped her make healthy changes to her lifestyle, but is there potential for a future downfall based on the strict guidelines…??

I was so excited to hear this story as I was also the little fat girl who turned her life around, so awesome job Breanna and keep up the good work!!  I just hope that the new environment that has been created is not too boring, constricting, or controlling.

Help your children make healthy decisions in choosing fruits, vegetables, high fiber whole grains, and low fat proteins as well as increasing their daily physical activity through sports and play.  Don’t focus on food restriction or forced activity, nobody likes that.

How are you helping your child living a healthy life? please share recipes, games, and tips!



We talk all the time about how we need to move more, how we need to find ways to be more active in our day, and how we should squeeze in little workouts…But what about time to rest…?

Ok, now for those of you who say you aren’t active because you’re too tired, that is not what I’m talking about.  Do you want my speech about how being more active actually gives you more energy as it releases adrenaline and other “happy hormones?”  We’ll save that for another day…

This is about working (that could be working out, working at your job, taking care of your kids) too hard and too long without enough rest.  Your flame has burned to the end of its match stick.  That was my weekend.  After a long week with barely enough sleep and long days of working, working out and taking care of my kids I was spent by the time Friday arrived.  My daughter came home sick from school, I took a rare but fabulous 3 hour nap with her, and then headed out to see a movie with my son.

We went to the Street Food Cinema presentation of Arthur Christmas at the Grove.  They blocked off Gilmore Lane (that’s the street between the Farmer’s Market and The Grove) and set up chairs and a gigantic movie screen.  After a relaxing set by the Sun Kings, we sat back and watched the movie.  As I took a breathe for the first time in 6 days, I realized that with all the  time I make in the week to be active, I actually don’t schedule any time to be inactive.  The body needs rest for healthy brain function, emotional well-being, and a healthy immune system.   Being well rested also increases the likelihood of maintaining a healthy weight.1

It was so nice to just sit with my little man, enjoy the cool night air, listen to him laugh, and watch a very cute movie.

So, get up and move!  But make time to sit back, relax and enjoy your family.

Arthur Christmas is now available on DVD

1. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html


I get a lot of emails and usually end up trashing most of them, but today I had a few extra minutes and opened an email from modernmom.com. An article entitled,
Parenting and Perseverance: Why Failure is Crucial to Success, caught my eye. After all, I have 2 little ones and am always looking to learn something new. However, when I got about a quarter of the way into the article I started seeing how it pertains to adults as much as kids:

“If we drop the expectations and focus on the process of discovery and exploration, things get immediately simpler and more enjoyable. That’s when real learning happens. We all learn best through play.”

Wow, right?! How true is this statement for so many who have “tried” to get fit, but got discouraged and quit because it wasn’t fun, change didn’t occur quickly enough, or they ran into a challenge they felt they couldn’t overcome.

But what if we change our “expectations?”

I have a picture on my Facebook page that states, “forget about getting skinny. Eat well & exercise. The weight will take care of itself.” (thank you, Nike). Ladies, are we doing this? Do you get excited at the end of a hard workout because you finished it or are you worried about how your calorie count will end that day? Are you proud of yourself that you chose a healthy dish for dinner 6 days out of the week or upset that you chose an unhealthy dish on day 7, which may result in no weight loss for the week?

“This is how he will learn,”
“Put objects just out of… reach…
work for it…
effort and reward.”

We need to challenge ourselves to be better! We didn’t know how to walk when we were born, we worked hard to build strength and balance to rise up and move on our own 2 feet. The same goes with improving our health, fitness and nutrition – we need to build physical and mental strength as well as establish internal balance to make positive changes to our bodies.

“That’s why it’s so important we teach our kids how to successfully fail – which means how to cheerfully go back to the drawing board as many times as it takes.”

There is no 1 answer, no one size fits all program – it is what works for you and only you. How many attempts is it going to take for you to find it or maybe the better question is, how many times are you willing to go back to find it?

“What is… the art of perseverance? It’s a delicate balance: Knowing when to praise, when to encourage…. to try harder, and when to say, “Why not try something else?” You have to be attuned to your… signals. Pushing too hard too fast doesn’t work.”

Slow and steady…. And bring your friends or a trainer along for encouragement, variation, and motivation.

“a failure simply has to do with effort and strategy, then going back to the drawing board is not a flaw, but an opportunity for discovery and triumph.”

So now I ask you, how many discoveries have you made about yourself?
What have you learned from all your attempts, whether they were successes or failures?
Have you been triumphant? If not, are you ready to persevere to get there?

The excerpts from this article are from Princess Ivana and you can read the full article at:

40 physically active things to do with you kids

I can’t believe it’s already August! Have you run out of ideas of what to do with your toddler? Or in that difficult time between camp ending and school beginning? Your solution is here! Using little to no equipment, try one of these 40 activities to do with your kids. If you have a favorite or come up with your own, please share!


Explore macaroni kid too, they cover activities for the family all over L.A.

Video chat personal training from clients perspective

A few weeks ago I wrote about the benefits of Skype or video chat personal training from my perspective… But what about the person on the other end of the call, the client… Did they feel as though they got the personal attention and workout they would get if the trainer was physically in the room with them?

Here is the client’s perspective from this same session.

I’m so glad she enjoyed the session and felt as though she got the benefits of a trainer that was in the same room, but am so saddened at the fact that she, like many others are burdened with the financial aspect that having a personal trainer carries. I believe in “fitness for all” and try to create opportunities where those in all different financial arenas can receive the help they need to reach their health, fitness and nutrition goals. Whether its a personally designed program, group classes, shorter sessions, or something in between everyone should have the benefits of personalized attention to improve their quality of life. So the question I always ask: what do you need and how can we get it for you?

Skype personal training

People come up with a lot of excuses not to workout… no time, travel frequently, don’t like the gym atmosphere…  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to workout ANYWAY?!

A few months ago I joined a company, http://helpyougetstarted.com/, that does Skype personal training.  Yes, you read that right – Personal Training via Skype.  I just finished my first workout and I think it went great.  She’s going to be blogging about it too, so I’ll post that once it’s up.  But I ran through a typical first session with the physical assessment and first workout movements – she had good form and worked up a sweat in the 30 minutes.

Don’t you hate us trainers… you want to keep coming up with reasons why you can’t workout and we keep coming up with these great solutions to help you stay healthy and active?!

This is not just a great tool for exercise new comers, it’s perfect for frequent travelers, moms, dads, workaholics, and the super duper lazy (you know who you are 😉  I have had so many clients say how much they love that I come to their homes because they can’t escape our session and this is even easier!

AND it’s not just for training… you knew this was coming, right? As I always say, working out is only half of the journey.  Changing your behaviors and eating habits is just as important and oftentimes the more challenging part.  Meeting me at the local coffee place or chatting with me on Skype is just as helpful to discuss all the tools to help you create the new you (and maybe even better because you can be in your pi’s…?)

Wait… and the best part is that this makes personal training available to just about anyone!  If you don’t have access to decent gym facilities or qualified personal trainers – this service puts both of the necessities at your fingertips (literally!).  I always say we are so inundated here in los angeles that we sometimes forget there is a significant part of the country that doesn’t have access to 10 different pilates and/or cardio ballet classes all within 3 miles of their house and those are the individuals who really need the most attention.

Skype with you soon!!