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At Home With: Jay Blahnik

There's no place like home for this master fitness trainer.

Ralph Palumbo

The fitness industry is never short of self-proclaimed experts, but Jay Blahnik not only walks the walk, he runs it, rows it, bikes it, and more. One of the world’s top fitness instructors with bona fide credentials to back up the rep, Blahnik counts Nike, Apple and BOSU among his clients. As a master trainer – one who teaches other instructors – he packs classes at domestic and international fitness conferences. Blahnik travels 40 weeks a year, but longs to spend more time at his newly renovated hillside home. Here, a peek at his digs and lifestyle in Laguna Beach.

How long you’ve lived in your house
I have lived in Laguna Beach for 17 years, almost since graduating from college, but have lived in this house for about 13 years. It is a simple home – not big, but the views and energy from this place captured me from the moment I stepped into the house. And I love Laguna Beach. I get to travel all over the world, but in my opinion, there is no place more beautiful. I feel at home here like no other place in the world.  
Aesthetic sensibility of your home
Modern cottage. I really enjoy cottage style design, especially in Laguna Beach where it just fits. But putting a modern twist on the cottage style can make a home more practical and enjoyable to live in without becoming so contemporary that it loses its beach character.
Why and what you renovated  
Since the house is smaller, I wanted to make sure every inch was usable and practical. So custom cabinets and closets were installed in every bedroom, hallway, laundry room, and even under the stairs to ensure plenty of storage. Turns out when you use every inch of space in the most practical way, there is plenty of space, even in a small home. Next, the outside of the home was redesigned to include new custom glass and wood balconies and updated siding. The front yard and back yard were completely redone to include amazing new landscaping, outdoor beach shower, an outdoor firepit, and backyard gate that slides completely open out onto the canyon so that the amazing canyon and ocean views could be enjoyed from almost every room in the house.
What that makeover was like
As the saying goes, it took twice as long as expected, and was twice as expensive as was budgeted. But, it was worth every penny.
The next thing you’d like to make over or change in your house
I have done three renovations in 13 years with each renovation being bigger than the last. This time, the house is finally right where I always wanted it to be. So no more changes for a while. When you actually have to live in the remodel, you don’t want to hear, see or be around construction for a long time when you are actually done!

Your favorite room
The entire upper floor. There is an unobstructed view of the ocean from the living room, and an unobstructed view of the canyon from the dining room. And from the kitchen (which is in the middle of the living room and dining room), you can see both views while you are cooking. The energy that comes through the front and back of the house is amazing, and the house is angled from a view that makes it seem that you are the only house on the hill. With a fire burning at night and the balcony doors wide open, it is the most relaxing spot on the planet.
The one thing you can’t live without in your house
Besides the upstairs, the backyard is now in competition for one of my favorite things in the house. A brand new giant staircase takes you directly from the upstairs kitchen to the backyard firepit. With a new sliding gate that runs almost the width of the yard, you can sit out by the firepit at night and enjoy the night lights of Laguna looking over the canyon and ocean. It is just beautiful.

Favorite chair
My favorite chair is actually a pair of chairs given to me by my good friend and agent, Julie LaFond. They are antiques made of leather and wood and are the perfect blend of modern design with old-school aesthetic. Truly one-of-a-kind, they are comfortable to sit in, but are almost a piece of art.

On your nightstand
Right now, I am enjoying reading the biography of Steve Jobs, one of my business heroes. I attend the Ted conference every year, and when you attend that conference you are automatically a part of the Ted Book Club. They send the most amazing books every month or so that inspire me, enlighten me and take my imagination to new heights.

Your workout when you are home
Because my home is on the hill near one of the Laguna greenbelts, I hike or walk almost every day I am in town. You can walk for miles right in the wildlife, just outside my back gate. You can take an easy walk or hike, or a hardcore run with hills and valleys. And on every outing you see the best views, plants, flowers, and scenery. It never gets old and beats going to the gym every time.

A perfect day at home
Sleep in (never happens), have fresh coffee in the backyard while reading the newspaper, walk the dog on the hill, and have friends over for brunch where we all do a little bit of the cooking.

If your house had a signature soundtrack, the song you would play is…
My taste in music is so eclectic that I am not sure one song would sum it up. I love old-school music as much as current music, and it all puts a smile on my face. But since the house is inspired by the beach and cottage feel of Laguna, the soundtrack of the house would likely include a Jack Johnson song.

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