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The 20 best gyms and health clubs in New York City
Use our guide to NYC’s best gyms and health clubs to find the fitness center that’s right for you
Thu Sep 18 2014
Photograph: Courtesy BFX Studio
New Yorkers are already among the most active humans on the planet—our walking prowess is rightly renowned (no wonder, with so many beautiful buildings to admire) and our ability to shake up a dance party is the stuff of legend. But with the explosion of boutique-fitness studios and new outposts of both low- and high-end gym chains across all five boroughs, deciding the best fitness options for you may seem a little daunting. We sweated through some of the city's hardest workouts and kept an eye on the wait for cardio machines all across NYC to give you a list of our favorite places to get your blood pumping.
RECOMMENDED: The full NYC fitness guide
Photograph: Courtesy 24-Hour Fitness
The Bronx branch of this national chain, across from Fordham University, keeps in line with the qualities the gym's known for: clean, friendly, convenient. Along with a well-maintained selection of free weights and machines, the spot has a child-care center and group fitness classes that range from cycling and Bodycombat (a martial-arts–inspired cardio workout) to Zumba and hip-hop. 400 E Fordham Rd at Webster Ave, Bronx (718-924-2994, 24hourfitness.com)
Photograph: Whitney Cox
This two-floor, 10,000-square-foot facility, which opened in June 2014, is currently the only space in NYC to feature Fit3D, technology that tracks your body-composition measurements with a full-body scan ($30 per session) for a physique assessment that's way more precise than your Fitbit or Jawbone. Owned by the folks behind New York Sports Club, the Chelsea spot offers personal training downstairs and group classes on its ground floor, including BFX Barre and Box & Bell (involving, you guessed it, boxing and kettlebells). We're partial to the hour-long hybrid Fusion Ride, which starts with Spinning in a stadium-style studio (complete with a giant projection screen that details your stats) and then transitions to free-weight conditioning in the high-ceilinged M Class space. 555 Sixth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (bfxstudio.com). Individual class $30, monthly unlimited $349.
Photograph: Courtesy Brick New York
Brick New York
CrossFitters have no shortage of "boxes" to choose from—so named because they're usually bare-bones warehouse spaces—but this Chelsea spot combines studio amenities (including showers) with the same killer workout. For those not quite ready for Olympic lifting, try the B/X class: a HIIT boot camp that uses kettlebells, medicine balls, rowing machines and other gear in heart-pumping circuits. 257 W 17th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (646-692-4005, bricknewyork.com)
Photograph: Courtesy J Miglio
There's no such thing as beauty without pain, so it makes sense that there's no such thing as a Bodyburn workout with breaks. If Sebastien Lagree's trademarked fitness method doesn't make you feel like lava is coursing through your arteries, we want some of whatever you're having. Lagree promises, however, that your spine and joints will not suffer any stress, since every session uses slow movement paired with fast transitions, working everything from strength and endurance to flexibility and cardio. The nonstop 50-minute workouts, a mix of Pilates and cardio, can burn up to 800 calories. Damn. And the studio, which proved an instant success in Williamsburg (32 North 6th St at Kent Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) in 2013, just opened a second location in Cobble Hill. 296 Court St between DeGraw and Douglass Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-382-1131, brooklynbodyburn.com). First class $18, five-class pack $79.
Photograph: Courtesy Concrete Fitness
South Brooklynites can get their HIIT fix at this Gravesend training hub, run by not one but two sets of twins: David and Mike Chira, and Ashley ("Ace") and Marcus Derosena. Which explains the name of Concrete's most popular class, Twinsanity, led by the Derosena brothers, a high-energy, constantly changing circuit that includes everything from plyometrics to ab-torching variations on plank. If you're one of those people who slacks off when the instructor's not looking, beware—this time you've got two sets of eyes on you. 447 Ave P at E 3rd St, Midwood, Brooklyn (718-627-2369, concretefitnessny.com)
Photograph: Courtesy Equinox
Equinox Printing House
There are gyms…and there's the multi-floor Printing House location of (the already-high-end) Equinox in the West Village. You'll find the typical amenities—including personal training, cardio and strength equipment, and a full schedule of classes offering boot camp, yoga, cycling and more—but members really come for the gorgeous rooftop pool, riverside views, sun deck and super luxe locker rooms with all the Kiehl's products that you'd never buy for yourself. Mmm. 421 Hudson St between Clarkson and Leroy Sts (212-243-7600, equinox.com). Monthly memberships start at $175.
Photograph: John Angelillo
Exceed Physical Culture
After making a name for itself on the Upper East Side (1477 Third Ave between 83rd and 84th Sts) and the Hamptons (10 Plank Rd, East Hampton, L.I.), Exceed Physical Culture debuted its new downtown outpost in June 2014 with even more opportunities to squeeze in its signature 50-minute workout. The classes, which vary in every session, all incorporate strength and cardio intervals with everything from rowing and TRX to jump ropes and med balls. Eagle-eyed instructors give super personalized attention and emphasize quality over quantity of reps performed, but if you want to make use of the spacious facilities with your own coach, head downstairs to the personal-training area that's filled with all your favorite fitness toys. Best of all, the locker rooms are just as clean but way more spacious than its UES studio and provide everything you could need to get spruced up before rushing off to work or cocktails with friends. 97 Reade St between Church St and West Broadway (212-406-3600). First class free, individual class $32, ten-class pack $310.
Photograph: Courtesy HIIT BK
The ever-growing popularity of high-intensity interval training descended on Flatbush Avenue in May, and unlike most franchises that have only one HIIT option on the menu, this Prospect Heights newbie offers specialized varieties to tone up however you like. What the studio lacks in the bells and whistles found at many a Manhattan mega complex, instructor Mike Montanez makes up for in energy while leading several fat-burning sessions such as Just HIIT It (cardio kickboxing), Massive HIIT (weight training), Ultimate HIIT (total body) and HIIT Boot Camp (for those enviable early-riser types). 264 Flatbush Ave between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (hiitbk.com). First class free, individual class $25, ten-class pack $200.
Photograph: Courtesy Limitless Fitness Studios
Limitless Fitness Studios
Can't decide what kind of workout you like best? This neighborhood studio's got you covered, with a grab bag of classes to appease every fitness appetite. The spot is fully equipped with TRX, kettlebells, battle ropes and agility ladders, combined in various ways for boot-camp-style classes; indoor bikes for cycling; and plenty of space for everything else: Masala Banghra dance, power yoga and no-equipment cardio challenge Insanity. Best of all, it's a community-minded place, with house rules like "Leave your ego at the door" and "Bring family and friends, why suffer alone?" 322 New Dorp Ln at Clawson St, Staten Island (718-351-6847, limitlessfitnessstudios.com)
Photograph: Courtesy Jordan Canino
During the yoga, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and dance-cardio sessions here, energetic instructors motivate students with encouraging mantras ("I am ready for creating; I am done procrastinating!" or "When I visualize, I magnetize!") while classmates perform jumps, squats or killer kickbox-style punches. Need an extra boost? Unprocessed juices and snacks from local eatery Hu Kitchen are sold on-site. Even better, the Movement donates one buck to the National Brain Tumor Society each time a client takes a class (in memory of cofounder Jordan Canino's mother). So you can say you technically did some charity work. For once. Sort of. 32 W 18th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (themovementfitness.com). Individual class $32, five-class pack $155, ten-class pack $300.
Photograph: Courtesy Peloton Cycle
This indoor-cycling center, which debuted in Chelsea in May 2014, live-streams all its classes from a basement control center to at-home riders who purchase a Peloton bike, which features a near-silent belt drive in place of a chain, resulting in a much smoother ride. If plunking down $1,995 for your own equipment sounds too expensive (is it just us?), drop by the gorgeous mirrored studio, whose 60 bikes are comfortably spaced out across the stadium-style floor. Afterward, stick around to luxuriate in the spa-like locker rooms—featuring decorative orchids, disposable flip-flops, organic skin-care and hair-care products from EO—and enjoy a complimentary cup of Jack's Stir Brew and organic fruit in the spacious lounge before checking out the ample retail offerings for your next ride. 140 W 23rd St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (pelotoncycle.com). First class free, individual class $30.
Photograph: Courtesy Jon Tannen
In-the-know fitnessphiles who envy ballerina bodies have long been eschewing barre classes and heading instead to Refine Method, founded by former New York City Ballet dancer Brynn Jinnett. After debuting on the Upper East Side (340 E 71st St between First and Second Aves), Refine opened its second location on the other side of the park in 2012. Refine is perfect for West Siders who want their fix of intervals and circuits, many of which make use of Refine's unique pulley system, designed to target every muscle group three-dimensionally, between cardio bursts on the rubber floor that may leave you gasping for air. In addition to correcting your form, the deadly serious but super friendly instructors, who will remember your name by your second session, won't let you slack as they carefully work with your fitness level, no matter how long you've been working out. 117 W 72nd St between Columbus Ave and Broadway (646-820-3463, refinemethod.com). First class $20, starter four-class pack $97, packages available.
Photograph: Andy Keir
Fell in love with rowing in a circuit-training class but want more than a handful of 45-second intervals? Check out Row House, the spacious West Side facility that opened in March 2014 (with its adjacent sister studio, EVF Performance, that specializes in CrossFit). The low-impact classes—scaled for everyone from beginner to advanced levels—mix rowing sprints on a Concept 2 Indoor Rower with body-weight exercises in options like full body, core and endurance. 555 W 59th St between Amsterdam and West End Aves (212-757-6035, rowhousenyc.com). First class $20, individual class $40, five-class pack $180.
Photograph: Courtesy Sage Fit
Have you noticed Queens denizens looking a bit buffer? After filling a market niche in the borough's Whitestone and Astoria 'hoods, Sage debuted its Bayside site last month. Options at the hardwood-floored space include personal-training and group-fitness classes, where clients do body-weight moves like mountain climbers and planks before heading to separate TRX (suspension training), kettlebell and rowing stations for a full-body circuit-training workout. Can't make it to a class? Keep up with trainers Jordan Schneider Danny Suarez and Dino Tsagalas via the MemberMe app, which updates you with studio schedules, promos, and photo and video demos. 34-38 Bell Blvd between 34th Rd and 35th Ave, Bayside, Queens (sagefit.com). First class free, individual class $15.
Photograph: Courtesy Simply Fit
Lovers of cardio-tastic, movement-based workouts would do well to head to this studio, which Lisa Eskenazi opened in 2011 as a more budget-conscious option specifically for her fellow Astoria residents. While it may be no-frills, the space features hardwood floors, sky-blue walls and twinkling lights to set an ambience perfect for the dance-packed schedule. Options include the signature Simply Move It class, which combines intervals of dance moves with weight training; three varieties of the ever-popular Zumba; and Piloxing, a fusion of Pilates and boxing specially designed to sculpt muscles. Best of all, sessions here cost a fraction of what you'd find in Manhattan but will still make you break a serious sweat. 37-16 Astoria Blvd S between 37th and 38th Sts, Astoria, Queens (347-639-0489, simplyfitastoria.com). Individual class $15, ten-class pack $140.
Photograph: Courtesy Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
If Stefon from Saturday Night Live had recommended fitness centers instead of nightclubs, he surely would have raved about this expansive facility overlooking the Hudson River. Located on the far West Side, this place has everything: over 130 group classes every week, personal training, cardio and strength equipment, a lap pool…we could continue but you could probably complete an entire workout by the time we finished listing the possibilities. Pier 60, W 20th St at the Hudson River (212-336-6000). Various prices; visit chelseapiers.com/sc for details.
Photograph: Courtesy Katelyn Rose Photography
Title Boxing Club
Work out your anger issues at this Hell's Kitchen gym, which provides group boxing and kickboxing classes. Human-size bags provide serious resistance (and maximum visualization, perhaps) in sequences of jabs, hooks and uppercuts (and MMA-style kicks in kickboxing classes) interspersed with moves like jumping jacks and crunches. Feel like you're not a fighter? Instructors make sure to show you proper form to keep your wrists protected. You'll be channeling Rocky in no time. 455 W 37th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-564-1700, titleboxingclubnyc.com)
Photograph: Courtesy Tone House
"Unleash your inner athlete" is the mantra of this Union Square studio, which boasts one of the city's hardest workouts. Dim red lighting and a dramatic soundtrack up the intensity during a class that focuses on explosive movements—think sprints, jumps and burpees. Tone House's most infamous torture device—uh, prop—is a resistance harness: Imagine running, but with 70ish pounds of resistance pulling you back. Makes that treadmill run seem like a 20-minute nap, huh? 20 E 17th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway, second floor (646-453-6633, tonehousenewyork.com)
Photograph: Courtesy Uplift Studios
Between small-group classes (topping out at 12 people), hands-on personal training and a locker room that's more stocked with toiletries—saline solution, makeup remover and mouthwash, in addition to the usual amenities—than a Duane Reade, it's hard to find a single downside to this women's fitness studio. The three signature classes include strength; HIIT; and the low-impact, yoga-inspired Sculpt Fusion—with instructors keeping an eye on correct form and providing modifications to anyone who needs them. Keep an eye out for its special events like wine-and-workout classes, book-club chats, and day trips to Long Beach or Cold Spring. 24 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, second floor (212-242-3103, upliftstudios.com)
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