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Functional fitness is a big workout buzz term. Basically, it means strengthening muscles while teaching them to work together, say, to lift a heavy grocery bag. And it’s something we need as much as being swimsuit-ready year-round.

We’re getting functionally fit and having fun by--of all things--rock climbing, since it’s a full-body workout that makes us hoist our own weight ever upward. We’ve learned the ropes at a new downtown gym devoted to the sport called LA.B, short for L.A. Bouldering. The space is huge: a 13,000-square-foot warehouse filled with man-made boulders more a story high. Every week, seasoned climbers teach hour-long beginners’ clinics, in which you learn the basics of foot placement and weight alignment.  

At the clinic we rented climbing shoes, just like when you go bowling ($4), and some sweat-absorbing chalk ($1). It’s simple to “top out”--that means reach the peak, newbie--on the first try, since the easiest footholds are marked with green tape.  

Unlike most gyms, LA.B offers super-flexible pricing, starting with $15 single visits. We’re amped to return often--since those eye-catching Joshua Tree boulders are calling. 

LA.B, 1375 E. Sixth St.; 323-406-9119 or

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