Fitness classes: Fun and cool ways to stay in shape in NYC

There's no need to dread your workout with these unique fitness classes, including parkour, disco-themed sessions and aquacycling.

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  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    305 Fitness class

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    305 Fitness class

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    305 Fitness class

  • Photograph: Marilou Daubé

    AquacyclIng fitness class at Aqua Studio

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    JumpDance fitness class at JumpLife

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Parkour fitness class at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Parkour fitness class at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics

  • Rendering: Courtesy 92Y

    Studio in the Sky at 92nd Street Y

  • Photograph: Stephen Meierding

    Tabura fitness class at Crunch Gym

  • Photograph: Sydney Joseph

    Gridiron workout at Harbor Fitness

  • Recess fitness class at Lucille Roberts

Photograph: Filip Wolak

305 Fitness class

We've already shown you where to find Spinning classes, boot camps and CrossFit gyms, but try these enjoyable fitness classes to move in a new way and freshen up your workout routine.


RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC


305 Fitness class

305 Fitness

A dim room with flashing spotlights. A DJ spinning house, hip-hop and pop. Rows of glistening young folks shaking it. Founder Sadie Kurzban’s dream of a fun fitness environment that evokes the boîtes in her hometown of Miami—hence the studio’s name, which is the area code of the city where the heat is on—is now a reality. The 23-year-old launched the studio in 2010, and the 55-minute dance-cardio classes frequently sell out, so be ready to sign up as soon as the week’s reservations go live on the website every Monday at 10am. In keeping with her pleasure-seeking mission, once a month Kurzban and crew host pop-up fitness parties where you get the same kind of exercise, but in a loft (sometimes with a view) or a club setting, and a bartender who serves health-conscious smoothies instead of cocktails. Stepping Out Studios, 37 W 26th St between Broadway and Sixth Ave (646-480-2459, 305fitness.com). Schedule varies; single class $24, packages and discounts available.

AquacyclIng fitness class at Aqua Studio

Aquacycling

From across the pond comes the latest in indoor biking, courtesy of French expat Esther Gauthier. Her spalike Aqua Studio in Tribeca plonks 15 stationary bikes into a four-foot-deep pool. For 45 minutes, with a backdrop of dim lights, tea candles and an energetic playlist, you’ll pedal furiously at two resistance settings, mixing it up with standing and sitting positions as well as ab crunches and arm strokes. Since opening in April, the women-only classes have been packed with curious indoor cyclists and swimmers ascertaining whether the promise of better balance, core strength and extra toning is true. (Buoyant devotees, who claim you can burn up to 800 calories an hour, vote yea.) Good news, chaps: all-guy lessons debuted this month. 78 Franklin St between Broadway and Church St (212-966-6784, aquastudiony.com). Schedule varies; single class $40, trial class $34, packages available. Shoe rental $2.

Bokwa

Bokwa

Bid farewell to the standard eight-count used in most dance fitness classes and reviled by those with two left feet. This globally popular workout routine was tested at a few New York Sports Club locations this summer, and is set to launch at NYSC gyms in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey this fall. The workout is easily broken down into about a dozen moves that require creating letters and numbers (say, a j or a three) with some bouncy footwork. The instructor combines these building blocks and encourages as many fist pumps and “put your hands in the air”–style waves as possible. The result is rows of attendees bopping around to fast-paced pop music, looking like they were trained by boy-band choreographers. It’s fun, the steps are easy (as long as you can write), and founder Paul Mavi claims it can burn up to 1,200 calories per class. Locations and schedule vary; visit mysportsclubs.com. Membership starts at $69. One-day pass $25. Thirty-day trial $30 (available online).

JumpDance fitness class at JumpLife

JumpLife

This Tribeca studio opened in October 2012 with a focus on exercising with grin-inducing trampolines, and now offers two airborne options meant to make you sweat while taking it easy on tender joints and spines. Studio founder Montserrat Markou claims the long-term health benefits of “rebounding” include increased production of red blood cells, lower blood pressure and even (TMI alert) more regular bowel movements. We’re not doctors, but we do enjoy throwing on neon attire and spending 45 minutes hopping up and down to Top 40 tunes in JumpDance’s nightclub-lite setting. At JumpGym, the party gets dialed back and the focus shifts to lifting weights on the bouncing platform. 404 Broadway between Canal and Walker Sts, second floor (212-966-2604, jump-life.com). Schedule varies; single class $28, first class $15, packages available.

Parkour fitness class at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics

Parkour

At the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (a.k.a. SLAM), it’s possible to test out dance-boxing-rodeo mash-up PopAction one night and strap yourself into a German wheel and roll around like a hamster the next. Those with limited acrobatic experience should begin with parkour, which involves using your body’s strength to jump over obstacles, walk up walls, swing around banisters and the like. Instructors (who double as Streb performers) stack mats into different configurations in the studio and teach you how to scale them using yoga, gymnastics and trampolining techniques. 51 North 1st St between Kent and Wythe Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-384-6491, streb.org). Wed 7–8:30pm; single class $15, ten classes $135. Observers free.

Studio in the Sky at 92nd Street Y

Studio in the Sky

Get ready to stick your landing at the 92nd Street Y’s brand-new rooftop gymnastics facility, which debuts in November with three offerings aimed at grown-ups. Total newbies should start with the Cardio Tumbling class, which teaches bouncing, twisting and flipping on a tumble track, mini trampolines and spring-loaded floor, and uses a foam pit to ensure soft dismounts. To get your heart racing faster, make time for the Gymnastic Conditioning Boot Camp, which promises circuit training–style rotations on the track, rope climbs and other pulse-pounding challenges. Those with some experience can up the ante and opt for the All-Around Gymnastics Workout, which teaches skills on the floor, balance beam, uneven bars and vault. 1395 Lexington Ave at 92nd St (212-415-5710, 92y.org/studiointhesky). Schedule varies; 15 sessions $435–$555, trial pass $15.

Tabura fitness class at Crunch Gym

Tabura

Try this high-intensity class if you’re looking for a new Zumba. Created by Crunch fitness instructor Rennette Hudson (nickname: Reign), the fast-paced, 30-, 45-, or 60-minute session combines simple moves and gyrations, kickboxing-style punches, high knee lifts and more—all executed to the beat of amped-up tribal house music, occasionally accompanied by a live drummer. The name is derived from a Swahili word for military-style training drills—fitting, given that some of its signature combinations seem to double as both endurance training and prep for a prizefight. Locations and schedule vary; visit crunch.com. Membership starts at $79/month. Visit the website to download a free day pass.

Gridiron workout at Harbor Fitness

Gridiron Workout

Fall means it’s time to break out the ol’ pigskin, and right on cue, Brooklyn-based gym chainlet Harbor Fitness has thought up a football-inspired alternative that comes with zero risk of getting tackled. Taught by high school football coach Sydney Joseph or Jay Dantzler, a cornerback from women’s pro team the New York Sharks, the sessions—held once a week at all three locations—blend training drills and game moves. Participants rotate a football from side to side while lying on a bouncy fitness orb; go from a squatting position to a high jump and back down, over and over again; and scramble along the floor on their hands and knees (using gliding discs). Some themed classes, timed to events like Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, even divide attendees (who are encouraged to sport their favorite team’s jersey) in two groups for some lighthearted competition. Locations and schedule vary; visit harborfitness.com. Day pass $20, membership starts at $59/month, first-time visitors with a local ID can get a free three-day pass.

Disco classes

To fete its 40th anniversary, the New York Health & Racquet Club is returning to the freaky vibe of its founding year: 1973. That means infusing nine of its standard offerings (including Zumba, jump rope and Spinning) with funk-filled flourishes until September 30. Expect modifications like foot-tapping musical accompaniment, revised choreography and even festively costumed instructors. To wit, Kangoo—which involves strapping on ski boots with elliptical springs and running, jumping and dancing—will morph into the retro-themed “Disco Hop.” In “Do the Hustle,” a Latin ballroom class transforms into a chance to learn that throwback dance; meanwhile, “Saltwater Disco” sets water aerobics to a groovy soundtrack. Locations and schedule vary; visit nyhrc.com. Membership starts at $105/month. Nonmembers: mention “Time Out Disco” to pay $25/class.

Recess fitness class at Lucille Roberts

Recess

In the vein of kickball and dodgeball emerging as adult-appropriate sports, Lucille Roberts has adapted kids’ schoolyard games into a 45-minute cardio class. Besides hopscotch, tag, Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light, there’s an extra element of whimsy in two segments—one that incorporates “crab soccer” (in which the two sides scuttle around in modified backbends while kicking fitness balls), and another that requires participants to keep a balloon between their legs as they race around the room. Locations and schedule vary; visit lucilleroberts.com. Membership starts at $4.75/wk.



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