L.A.'s new networking scene--West Hollywood's Crunch gym brokers movie deals while getting stars buff

By Jessica Shaw
Updated April 21, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Most people go to the gym to drop a few pounds or bulk up their pecs. In Los Angeles, working on your chest is secondary to working on your career. But networking at the gym has new meaning, thanks to West Hollywood’s Crunch. With members like Kevin Williamson, Curtis Hanson, Jon Favreau, Aaron Eckhart, and Ben Stiller, plus plenty of high-profile execs and agents, choosing the right treadmill could mean the difference between a three-picture deal and development hell. Especially since the gym’s trainers are also happy to help their clients reach peak player performance. ”If your client wants to work with someone else’s client, we’ll do biceps [near where] they’re doing chest,” says Crunch trainer Ari Jason, 28. Recently, Jason brokered a potential deal by giving a script from writer Jeff Sherwood to producer Stephan Basil Yacobian (Mea Culpa). ”I knew Ari knew a lot of people, and in this town, the more people who see your work, the better,” says Sherwood, who also wrote a role in the upcoming thriller Red Liners for a popular Crunch spinning instructor. ”Trainers are the little fitness yentas of Hollywood. They’re almost as good as agents.” What’s in it for the trainers? ”Once I make the introduction, it’s out of my hands,” says Jason. ”If it happens, great. If not, whatever. But if the movie ends up getting made, at least they know they’ll look great at the premiere.”