If you’ve been hitting dessert a little too hard, it might be time to get outside or hit one of the best gyms. NYC is already home the most active humans on the planet—our walking prowess is rightly renowned (no wonder, with so many beautiful buildings and NYC parks to admire) and our ability to shake up a dance party is the stuff of legends. 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 cheapest memberships, 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: Full guide to the best NYC fitness classes and gyms
Best gyms in NYC
Sick of counting down the minutes for someone to get off the treadmill? It won't be an issue at the ever-expanding Blink Fitness empire's Concourse Village outpost, which offers three floors of cardio equipment, strength machines, free weights, medicine balls and everything else that suits your workout fancy. While Blink does not offer classes, its dirt-cheap monthly fee—which amounts to about half of what you'd pay for a single boutique-fitness session in lower Manhattan—can't be beat. Price: Monthly memberships start at $15
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.
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. Price: First class $18, three-class pack $79.
This two-floor, 10,000-square-foot facility features 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 and then transitions to free-weight conditioning in the high-ceilinged M Class space. Price: Individual class $20, monthly unlimited $199, the Five-pack $150.
This indoor-cycling center 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. Price: First class free, individual class $30.
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, 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. Price: First class $34, starter four-pack class $99.
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. Price: First class $22, ten-class package $180.
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. Price: Monthly memberships $160–$175.
After making a name for itself on the Upper East Side and the Hamptons, 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. Price: First class free, individual class $32, ten-class pack $310.
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. Price: First class $25, individual class $35, five-class pack $165.
Between small-group classes (topping out at 10 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 signature classes include Strength, Endurance, Power and Uplift Express and the low-impact, yoga-inspired Sculpt—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 Hamptons Retreat. Price: First class $20, single class $34, five-class pack $160, ten-class pack $305, 20-class pack $580, monthly unlimited $350, off-peak five-class pass $99.
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. Price: Various prices.
"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? Price: Single-class $40, five-class pack $185, 20-class pack is $620, Rookie pass is two classes for $40.
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?" Price: One year unlimited $1,070, three-months unlimited $340, one-month unlimited $129, 10-class card $145 includes all classes on the schedule, $109 monthly unlimited with one-year commitment.
Need a workout playlist?
Though Ryan’s Daughter only opened in 1979, there has been a bar at the same Upper East Side location since the Prohibition era. Over the years, the pub has maintained the same welcoming feel and today, it still plays host to plenty of neighborhood events. Stop by on the first Wednesday of every month to watch the unofficial UES poll championships. From time to time, the upstairs bar even hosts performances of plays written by local thespians. During the colder months, sip on an Irish coffee to warm up—Ryan’s Daughter offers both the classic recipe and one spiked with whiskey and Bailey’s—or a hot toddy. The bar has an extensive list of beers on tap, including their own house ale ($5), Paulaner hefeweizen ($6) and Six Point “The Crisp” Pilz ($6). The usual suspects—Budweiser ($5), Corona ($6) and Pabst Blue Ribbon ($4)—appear in bottles or cans, but the best deal might be the pairing of a can of Narragansett Del’s Shandy with a well shot ($9).
Venue says: “Join us every Monday night for themed quizzes in our cozy second floor bar. $50 bar tab to the winning team. Prizes for the "losers" too”