Alternative fitness classes: Bar Method, capoeira and more

If you don’t dance, try one of these fitness classes, like Bar Method, that will give you the benefits without you having to set foot on the dance floor.



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  • Introductory class at the New York Capoeira Center

  • Introductory class at the New York Capoeira Center

  • Photograph: Jeri Hines Photography

    Mixed-level class at the Bar Method Soho

  • Photograph: Jeri Hines Photography

    Mixed-level class at the Bar Method Soho

  • Lastics open-level class at Stepping Out Studios

  • Lastics open-level class at Stepping Out Studios

Introductory class at the New York Capoeira Center

Excuses abound for not enjoying or even trying dance: Maybe you lack coordination or flexibility, or perhaps you crave something that lets you fight or tap into your spiritual side. Regardless, we’ve found fitness classes that’ll give you all the benefits of dance—increased balance, lean muscles, better poise—without the hang-ups.

RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC

“I want something more badass.”

Try this: Introductory class at the New York Capoeira Center
Perhaps you’ve played as Eddie in Tekken 3, or maybe you remember the Durmstrang wizards’ entrance from the fourth Harry Potter movie. Either way, you’ve seen capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that incorporates elements of dance (especially breaking) and is performed to a rhythmic soundtrack. Beginners’ classes at this school focus on moving safely in tandem with a partner and practicing three fundamental skills, including cartwheels. Despite being labeled “introductory,” the class is mixed ability, so attendees practice to the level they’re comfortable with—most stick with crouched half-cartwheels. The instructors create a jovial, supportive atmosphere where it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s a good thing: Capoeira demands balance and some serious core and upper-body strength. Look for a new outpost of this school opening in Williamsburg this
fall.Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk St between Delancey and Rivington Sts, suite 307 (212-677-2209, Schedule varies; monthly membership $130–$165, registration fee $100. —Jonathan Shannon

“It’s not soul-nurturing enough.”

Try this: IntenSati at Sacred Brooklyn
Yogis seeking to supplement their practice can enhance their flexibility and peace of mind during this feel-good class. Instructor and certified personal trainer Dyan Tsiumis combines martial arts, dance, strength conditioning and yoga, teaching simple aerobic moves to create a high-energy routine. While doing jumping jacks, heel drives and more to the up-tempo music, participants chant positive affirmations to encourage their inner warrior to fight through the burn. With each sequence, you’ll notice your attitude improving, along with your balance and mental focus. • 197 Clifton Pl between Bedford and Franklin Aves, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (347-715-4112, Tue noon; single class $20.—Teresa Roca

“I’m already addicted to Pilates.”

Try this: Mixed-level class at the Bar Method Soho
At first glance, a class at this sleek spot could be mistaken for a yoga session with some ballet tossed in. But as students hold basic poses (leg lifts, planks, lunges) or lean into a barre, there’s all sorts of imperceptible flexing going on. The muscle-shredding workout kicks off with a cardio warm-up the minute you walk through the door, and the assault continues for a full hour, mixing crunches with bicep curls and other targeted exercises. Newbies may require a few classes to develop body awareness (and endurance), but the staff is kind to even the biggest of lummoxes. You’ll feel the posture-straightening, gut-flattening effects after a single session (once you regain your strength). • 155 Spring St between West Broadway and Wooster St, second floor (212-431-5720, Times vary; single class $37, 30-day unlimited pass $195 (new clients only), multiclass packages $160–$765.—Ethan LaCroix

“I’m not flexible and have two left feet.”

Try this: Lastics open-level class at Stepping Out Studios
Former dancer Donna Flagg designed this studio’s program four years ago, drawing upon her training at UArts and Rutgers. The result is a series of dance-inspired standing and seated stretches that elongate muscles. If you’re picturing lying leisurely in child’s pose for an hour, you’re out of luck: Flagg’s 60-minute classes use your body’s natural resistance to promote greater flexibility and core strength. • 37 W 26th St between Sixth Ave and Broadway, ninth floor (646-736-7880, Mon, Wed 6:30pm; single class $20.—Dayna Sason

Users say


You should've included TRX classes! They're an awesome way to work every muscle in your body, especially your core! Nimble Fitness offers lots of awesome classes.