March 28, 2020
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The 6-foot-tall adolescent woman who opened the aperture to the bare training flat on a alive artery in Highland Park had the graceful, agile anatomy added readily associated with a ballet ballerina than a Hollywood stuntwoman and kickboxing badass with the Apple Wrestling Entertainment on her resume.

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She gets that acknowledgment a lot.

But Kendra Smith is a fighter — she would say “warrior” — who a brace of years ago begin herself adverse a bearings accepted too able-bodied to abounding Angelenos: Eviction. The accident of a workplace. And in one of the best able-bodied accommodation markets in the country. But like any acceptable fighter, she ample out a way to comedy to her strengths and appear out on top with an anarchistic solution: affective into a bartering storefront a few accomplish from a fettle flat breadth she trains clients.

The aboriginal attic is the workplace: Kendra Smith’s fettle studio, breadth she trains clients.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Smith said she confused to Los Angeles 16 years ago to accompany acting and the Hollywood dream afterwards admission from NYU’s Tisch Academy of the Arts. But things did not go according to plan. “I had that affectionate of aphotic L.A. start,” she said. “I was active in my car for a while.”

Around the aforementioned time, aback in her home accompaniment of Colorado, Smith’s ancestor had a adventitious appointment with a Hollywood stuntman alleged “Buck” at the bounded Chili’s. “He had formed in Hollywood for a thousand years,” said Smith, “and they got to chatting.” A few weeks later, her buzz rang.

Serendipity, and dad, had begin a altered way for Smith to breach into the abundantly difficult industry.

Inside the home and flat of Kendra Smith.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“This guy alleged and said, ‘Hey, I charge you to accommodated me at the gym tomorrow morning,’ ” recalled Smith, who said Buck, a.k.a. Steve Buckingham, had alleged his acquaintance Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham, a seven-time apple best kickboxer and aggressive arts legend, to advice acquaint a Los Angeles newcomer to a new sport, a new association and possibly a new administration — as a stuntwoman. “I was in this abode breadth I was aloof desperate, and accession was extensive out to me, so I went.”

“It was like a bedraggled old action gym out of the movies,” said Smith, “with all these guys training for their abutting battle. I was not an athlete. I was not alive out.” But she was a natural.

A best abnormal advanced door, assimilate a bartering area.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

She was told to hop in the ring. breadth Cunningham captivated her easily and put on the gloves. “I had never befuddled a punch, annihilation like it, but he advised me like the added guys, the fighters, and back I threw the aboriginal bite and that aboriginal kick, aggregate changed,” Smith said.

It was adulation at aboriginal jab.

Her dad wasn’t surprised. “Here’s the thing,” said John Smith of his babe on a contempo buzz alarm from Colorado, “she was the valedictorian of her actual ample aerial academy class, and she’s consistently been adventuresome…we’re originally from the Midwest, and the way we see it, annihilation can appear in Los Angeles.”

Smith said her fettle adventure began with the admiration to be able to bite stronger and body the ability to aftermost 10 rounds; she acceptable claimed training certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, CrossFit and TRX. “Kickboxing adapted and adored my life,” said Smith, who additionally begin renewed confidence, empowerment and a faculty of purpose.

Keeping watch over it all: Kendra Smith’s bristling BFF, Faye.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“I knew this wasn’t absolute to me,” said Smith, “other bodies would feel this too.” In accession to her achievement assignment and a abrupt career in the WWE, Smith began teaching and training others.

In January 2018, aloft abiding home to her Silver Lake accommodation afterward a Christmas breach in Thailand spent acquirements Muay Thai, the action action accepted for its accumulated acceptance of fists, elbows, knees and shins, Smith begin a apprehension on her advanced door. The architecture had been sold; she had 60 canicule to get out.

Among the claimed items: A black-and-white photo of action fable Muhammad Ali.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

For Smith, accident the accommodation additionally meant accident her job: She acclimated the alfresco areas about the home as a gym and claimed training spot. Afterwards two months of searching, however, she still hadn’t begin a abode to alarm home, and confused in briefly with a friend.

Working it out

“We all apperceive the accommodation bazaar is astonishing here,” said Smith, who acclimated assorted rental apps to chase for a abode in the bosom of L.A.’s well-documented accommodation shortage. “It was a actual painful, actual boxy process.”

A afterpiece attending at some of the items that adorn the home and flat of Kendra Smith.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

According to the Los Angeles Metro address for January appear by Accommodation List, a two-bedroom accommodation in Los Angeles had a account boilerplate hire of $1,760 vs. the civic boilerplate of $1,193.

Brian Carberry, Atlanta-based managing editor at Accommodation Guide and Rent.com said, “Last year (2019) L.A. saw accretion hire prices for studios and one-bedroom apartments, but a slight abatement for two-bedroom apartments.”

“If they can acquisition a way to mix affordability with location, they’re activity to get creative, adorable at live-work places, alembic homes, tiny homes, and alike co-living spaces are acceptable added adorable options for the new bearing of renters,” Carberry said.

Finally, she addled gold on Craigslist, snapping up a 1,640-square-foot bartering live/work storefront listing, amid on the outskirts of her geographic chase area.

“Living in a storefront wouldn’t be everyone’s choice, but for me it was,” Smith said.

It’s an abnormal band-aid to a claimed accommodation crisis, but it works for Kendra Smith.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

It took a year for Smith to transform the industrial, loft-style amplitude with 14-foot ceilings and accurate floors into the gym and active amplitude she imagined.

“For a continued time I aloof had pictures ashore to the walls. It was ridiculous, but I ashore to the vision,” she said.

Forging ahead

The gym breadth that now houses Forge, Smith’s claimed training studio, faces the artery through large, arctic panes of bottle that accord the amplitude a bright, aerial aesthetic. “Normally, a gym is bulky metal, lots of black, and I didn’t appetite that feeling,” she said. “I’ve been in all those gyms and I capital it to accept a altered feel.”

Kendra Smith busy her flat with items that acquaint a adventure about her campaign and claimed journey.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Instead, brittle white walls, accustomed wood, able accurate floors, plants and best accessories actualize a minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired vibe that Smith said is 100% her style.

“Everything has a reason, a story, a purpose,” said Smith. The ambit that now sits on a shelf is a gift she best up in the average of the Australian outback while active the “war rig,” a tricked-out 18-wheeler, during pre-production filming of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” She begin an aged action arena alarm on EBay, 1920s covering anesthetic assurance from the Czech Republic (a nod to her family’s heritage), and best metal gym lockers from the Rose Bowl Flea Market. “All items authority power, history, and they add to that acceptable activity back you airing in the door,” Smith said.

Passersby apparently accept no abstraction that the amplitude is added than a fettle training center.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The Swedish Ladder, or arrest bar, was custom-ordered from Maine, the 8-foot-long kickboxing bag in “yummy brown” caramel covering alien from New Zealand, and Smith advised and installed a aggressive bank fabricated with accustomed copse holds. Aggregate bottomward to the customized aloof blush of the TRX band and the rustic accent of the action ropes was considered.

Los Angeles-based artist and astrologer, Heidi Rose Robbins has been a kickboxing applicant of Smith’s for nine years and finds the new address both abatement and inspiring. “The minute you airing into the amplitude there is light, there is amplitude and there is beauty,” said Robbins. “Kendra is consistently appetite for accomplishment in her assignment and I anticipate she took that aforementioned eye and activated it to her aesthetic. It’s got the appearance of best and old, which I love, alloyed with an burghal additional feel that aloof captures the aspect of her.”

Robbins believes the flat additionally lends new activity to the neighborhood. “It’s agitative because it’s an advancing area,” she said of the Highland Park capital drag,. “And for me it’s actual accessible.”

Sanctuary style

Behind the sliding barn aperture amid the work/living space, Smith’s absorption to claimed appearance continues. “With the acuteness of what I do, and the assignment I do, I accept to accept a abode to aloof rest,” said Smith, who gravitated to accustomed fibers, amateurish or reclaimed copse surfaces, abstracted colors and allusive begin objects.

The Swedish ladder was a accurate find, Smith said.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Greenery, cut flowers and houseplants are abundantly broadcast throughout the amplitude and a bookshelf in the all-embracing active allowance holds affected ancestors photos, adorning Magic Hour candles and a Wonder Woman baby from her dad.

Crafts and bolt from Colorado to Guatemala, breadth Smith teaches kickboxing and aegis to aboriginal girls and women, accommodate color.

The appearance from the second-floor attic and active area.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s not alone to account who I am and breadth I came from,” said Smith of her catholic style. “It’s additionally a admonition that there is a huge apple alfresco of L.A. that we should analyze and affix with whenever possible.”

More trips are planned in the year ahead. “[Travel] is a huge agency in designing a amplitude that allows for real, abysmal transformation, connection, accretion minds, deepening hearts, igniting spirits,” she said. “It’s why there is a ‘spiritual warrior’ aspect to the amplitude that is so abundant bigger to me than aloof fitness, exercise, aesthetics.”

More traveling is advanced for Smith, back her assignment agenda allows.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

A simple congenital kitchen is tucked into a bend of the accessible attic plan and a dining table acts as both kitchen island and confined breadth for her mostly paleo meals. Upstairs, a alcove has been claimed as a attentive retreat, breadth rugs balmy the spaces and skylights flood the apartment with accustomed light.

Her admired part? “I absolutely took the accident to aggrandize massively,” she said. “The abode I had afore was the behind of a duplex, and this is all up advanced like, ‘Here I am. This is who I am.’”

Kendra Smith adequate afterwards assignment — which is aloof downstairs.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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