Best kids' fitness classes
This Gowanus climbing gym is the largest in New York City, featuring more than 18,000 square feet of bouldering and climbing walls. Climbing classes for all skill levels, as well as yoga and pilates instruction, are also available. Learn the ropes through packages like BKB Adventures (9am–3:30pm), which includes five full-day sessons with unlimited climbing, outdoor recess and snacks. Bring the whole family to Weekend Family Hours (Sat, Sun 9–11am) to avoid peak-hour climbing traffic. All ages.
The venerable athletics center gives kids plenty of opportunities to embrace their favorite sports. Tweens can brush up on their basketball skills before the season starts in jump-start clinics, while preschoolers can learn the game from the ground up in a new Little Dribblers program. Teen Parkour is another new offering, giving kids a chance to learn running, jumping, climbing and acrobatic movements associated with the noncompetitive sport. Ages 3 to 16.
With an adjustable floor that switches from shallow to deep, Asphalt Green arguably has the best pool in Manhattan. The sports hub's comprehensive class offerings also include pilates, yoga, spinning and martial arts. Bring sporty kids who love hoops to Battery Park City to hit the court with Asphalt Green’s Basketball Academy. With classes capped at about eight students, players get plenty of one-on-one instruction from coaches. Tiny tots learn game in Little Shooters (ages 3–4) and Pee Wee (ages 5–6) classes, and then move up to Middies (ages 7–8) and Sharp Shooters (ages 9–10) to try out defensive strategies and face off in five-on-five games. For a bit of friendly competition, kids can join the rec league where age groups are divided into four teams for specialized weekly practice with an assigned coach, followed by formal game play. Locations in Battery Park City and on the Upper East Side. Ages 3–13.
This national martial-arts association offers age-specific programs for fighters at all levels. Expect experienced instructors and small student-to-teacher ratios. Amerikick Tigers (3–4), Dragons (5–6), and Youth Martial Arts (7–12) classes offer traditional and contemporary martial arts training, and kids will learn the kicks of Tae Kwon Do, the blocks and punches of Shotokan and the hand strikes of boxing and Kung Fu.
Ages 3 and up.
Elizabeth Streb’s Brooklyn-based company performs high-energy routines that meld movement, acrobatics and aerial stunts. Kids can get in on the fun by learning trapeze, practicing action movie–like stunts and studying the studio’s “Pop Action” technique—a combination of tumbling, running and “flying”—in Kid Fly and Kid Action classes. Extra energetic youngsters can try Kid Action ‘AMPED’ for non-stop movement, and Parkour Plus (ages 8–12), which teaches young Spidey’s to scale walls and make their way through urban spaces gracefully. Even little ones as young as 18 months can give classes a whirl in Baby Action and Little Kid Action sessions. Fall session begins September 21. $385–$595 for 16 sessions. Ages 1½ and up.
Natural rock faces are few and far between here in NYC, but that can’t stop kids from learning the ins and outs of climbing right here in town. Before scampering up the bright, colorful walls, instructors familiarize the children with the gear needed—like ropes and harnesses—and give them tips for getting to new heights. Experienced climbers can take the intermediate course, which delves deeper in climbing techniques and how to build strength. A six-week club also comes with a membership that includes free equipment rentals and one guest pass for return visits with friends and family. Ages 6–9.
Children as young as six weeks can align their chakras with classes ranging from mom-and-baby stretch sessions to teen workshops. The studio helps kids find their mental and physical balance by imitating animals, playing games and listening to stories. Ages 6 weeks and up.
Tough kids who can't get enough of active play will dig this hybrid class, combining elements of gymnastics and obstacle courses. Youngsters who enroll in the 12-week program will work on locomotor skills, hand-eye coordination, agility, balance and strength, plus build a sense of teamwork with fellow students. After a ten-minute warm-up, kids will dive into 15 minutes of skill work—each week has a different theme, ranging from throwing to climbing to inverting—followed by 20 minutes of play and obstacle time. Ages 6–12.
After sitting still all day, little ones can join in on after-school programming at LIC to jump, flip and cartwheel as the coaches teach the fundamentals of Olympic events for both women (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor) and men (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar). As the children grow stronger and more flexible, they’ll also gain confidence—not to mention a few acrobatic skills they’ll love to put into use on the playground. Ages 4.5–12.
Kids ages 3–10 can get flexible with class offerings at three different locations (and one in Central Park!) that employs age-appropriate techniques, games and props to teach young yogis the benefits of a regular practice. In Me & My Bean program, caregivers and kids bend, stretch and bond; Central Park Yoga allows moms to tone with a cardio-Yoga regime while their offspring (Mini Beans) learn the basics nearby. School-age kids, tweens and teens can also refine their skills in classes that put more emphasis on the correct alignment for poses. Ages 6 weeks to 16 years.
Kids in the center’s introductory courses learn fencing basics while improving hand-eye coordination and overall fitness. Plus, kids are in good hands and paired with the right group: classes are split by age and by experience. In all classes, kids will learn good sportsmanship, balance and quicken their reflexes. Ages 4 to 18.
Of all the boroughs, play spaces are the sparsest in the Bronx. But the enviable Uptown Sports Complex would be considered a gym in any neighborhood. The 16,000-square-foot facility offers a wide variety of classes for kids and adults, including baseball, gymnastics and dance, as well as afterschool and summer programs. In addition, the sports spot has open play for younger tots (ages 6 months to 3 years) at select times in its soft-mat area. Ages newborn to 12 years.
The first class is free at this Lower East Side studio, where Michael Goldstein (a.k.a. “Mestre Ombrinho”) teaches capoeira Angola, a traditional method of the Brazilian martial art that incorporates self-defense, West African music, dance and sport in lively, ritualized game play. Kids can try out a class in their age groups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Ages 3 to 12.
Leaping into the foam-filled “marshmallow pit” is a blast, but kids in the classes at Elite’s two locations also work on the uneven bars and balance beam and practice floor events. Trophies from the team’s many triumphs are scattered about, inspiring even the tiniest tumblers. Depending on their age group, kids can try 55 or 90-minute gymnastics classes to get the basics down pat. Ages 9 months and up.
This Midtown training center provides a welcoming environment for kids with little or no fencing background to learn the basics of fencing. Coaches and former Olympians lead young athletes through drills, games and open bouting to help them hone their skills! Ages 4 and up.