Best kids' fitness classes
The unique Brooklyn hotspot puts a circus twist on New Yorkers' fitness routines. Why opt for bikes or jumping jacks when you can try your hand at silks, acro and other cool activities that will help you channel the Big Apple Circus? Moms and dads can join their little ones during Family Acro or send the kiddies solo during Adventure Play Circus, where attendees master physical challenges that come their way (with the help of an instructor, of course). Learn more about the kids' offerings here. Ages 3 and up.
Options abound at Kids 'N Shape, which is perfect if your little ones have ants in their pants. Let them release that pent-up energy (and hone their motor skills in the process) while enjoying open play in the venue's safe and controlled enviornment. Little athletes can throw themselves into ball pits, climb on bounce equipment, play in jungle gyms and so much more. With over 6,000 square feet of space, this venue ensures that little visitors will be kept busy during their stay. Don't forget to peruse the birthday party packages and camps, too. Ages 18 mos—12 years.
The 92nd St Y is the mecca of entertainment in Manhattan. Since its founding in 1874, New Yorkers have been making their way to the instution for events, classes, camps and workouts, so it comes as no surprise that pint-sized athletes also gravitate toward the east side facility. Options are aplenty, from the typical offerings such as swimming and gymnastics, to the more unique sessions, such as parkour & ninja. Peruse the generously packed calendar with the kiddies and see what interests them most! All ages.
When backyards are few and far between, New Yorkers have to rely on their local green space for physical activity. Fortunately, NYC Parks welcomes visitors of all ages with a laundry list of athletic offerings. Let your budding sports star have a go at the Youth Sports Programs, which includes flag football, street hockey, golf, track, tennis and other popular games. The annual Learn to Swim program, a free offering based on a lottery system, introduces participants to swimming fundamentals and helps them feel comfortable and confident in the water. Nothing's off limits, so explore all of the options for youngsters (and yourself) here. All ages.
Say it with us now: Omm! Little ones can find a zen balance with a variety of courses, including mommy and me stretch session, teen classes and more. Karma Kids Yoga is exclusively for NYC's youngest yogis, so tell the little ones to take a deep breath and start stretching. Instructors keep wee little ones entertained by breaking up their courses with games and stories. Ages 6 weeks and up.
Even toddlers need to keep active, and Jodi's gym is here to help. Let the littlest members of your family learn basic motor skills and feel comfortable on their feet courtesy of the venue's classes. Mighty Muscle Movers (an action-packed, play-based class for toddlers) and Tumbling Tots (gymnastics for the preschool set) are crowd-pleasers for moms and dads. Plus, you can't forget about the perks: Jodi's Gym members are entitled to take advantage of free drop-in classes and have discounted birthday bashes for their kiddies and their BFFs. If you need to keep your brood entertained when school lets out, make sure to have a look at the camp offerings as well. Ages 9 months to 12 years.
Kids will go gaga for this unique take on dodgeball. Let them get in a workout by hopping in an octagonal pit, throwing and dodging the soft foam ball and trying to emerge victorious at the end of the game. Before gaga actually begins, children are introduced to its fundamentals and prepare a strategy before facing off against friends. As they get better at gaga, pint-sized players also build skills they can use in traditional sports, too. Mom and Dad: Don't be surprised if you'd like to give the game a try, too. Ages 5–12.
This chain offers gymnastics, karate, practice in sports skills, cheerleading and dance classes, and parent-child workshops. Babies as young as four months can participate in strength-building exercises, and body awareness and coordination skills, among others. As tots move from being a “Bug” to a “Beast”, they’ll focus on development exercises like identifying colors and taking turns. Ages 4 mos—12 years.
It dubs itself the "Madison Square Garden of Queens" and "The Largest Gym in Queens" and, although we didn't bring our measuring tape, we can't argue. Inside: an indoor soccer field, all-out gym, Olympic size pool and batting cages. If you get tired of swinging the lumber, bring your glove and take some grounders in the fielding tunnel. After all, defense wins championships. All ages.
Owner Elliott Cortez combined his passion for gymnastics and expertise in child psychology to create the Elliot Method, a unique program that uses gymnastic movements to help children emotionally and intellectually. The skill-building classes are designed to let kids release their energy and have fun. During open play, kids can use the tumble track, balance beam, swing bar and the assorted obstacle courses. All ages.
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 and up.
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. Classes, which are divided by age, 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 nonstop 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. 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.
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 how to quicken their reflexes. Ages 4—18.
Test the sport without committing—the first class is free at this Lower East Side studio! 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. Kiddos are split up into age groups and invited to join on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at various times. Ages 3–12.
Leaping into the foam-filled “marshmallow pit” is a blast, but kids in the classes at Elite’s various 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 50 or 90-minute gymnastics classes to get the basics down pat. Ages 9 mos and up.