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20 ways to make yourself better this January

After the last year, we could all use a breather in 2021. Start the year off right with these 20 awesome wellness activity ideas in NYC.

Written by
Will Gleason
Shaye Weaver
Collier Sutter

There’s no denying it: it’s going to be a rough winter. There’s been plenty of recent developments hinting at a light at the end of the tunnel, but New Yorkers are still going to have to get through the next few months. But don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to still take care of both your physical and mental health during these crazy times. (Obsessively reading the news? Not one of them.) Here are 20 of our favorite wellness activities in NYC right now.

RECOMMENDED: How to practice wellness in NYC this January

Make yourself better in 2021

FaceGym does sculpting "workouts" for your face that are meant to lift, sculpt, tone and tighten facial muscles. Technicians use high-energy knuckling movements and whipping strokes to stimulate blood circulation, collagen production and cell renewal—all of which sound incredible in the middle of winter. Its "Clean + Lift" workout uses a SKIN IV treatment, which is cold pressured detox water that deeply cleans and unclogs blocked pores. Your face is also given a vitamin infusion for hydratation, leaving your face and skin in tip-top shape to face the New Year head on. This 60-minute treatment is $175.

You don’t need to head upstate to decompress at a spa surrounded by calming natural elements. At cityWell, a “boutique bathhouse” located in Gowanus, you can enjoy the full gamut of classic spa options including massage therapy, hydrotherapy options and body treatments. The biggest draw, however, is the presence of backyard saunas where you can schvitz to your heart’s content. Try the “Backyard Bliss for One” package with a 45 minute shower/soak/sauna, a white clay mask, a 45-minute cabin massage and your choice of a glass of bubbly, beer or coconut water. Now that sounds like some me time we can get behind.


After the last year, it’s no surprise some of us might feel tempted to throw our phones in a box and lock them away for a bit. You can do just that in one of the adorable tiny houses, just a few hours outside the city, available to rent through Getaway. The 160-200 square-foot cabins are Instagram-ready, start at $99 a night and can fit between two–four people depending on the model. Once inside, you’ll find plenty of items there to help even the most stressed-out Gothamites recharge.

Do a cleanse from The Well
Photograph: Courtesy The Well

Do a cleanse from The Well

Purge all those sweets and alcohol from your system with The Well's Cleanse, which promises to optimize the health of your gut, improve your sleep, reduce stress and improve your nutrition. The program has a detailed list of foods you can enjoy but allows for some flexibility, which is certainly needed this year. You can choose from different meal plans, food brands and lifestyle tips to customize your cleanse. Coaches from The Well will also offer support as needed. The Cleanse is $249.


Haven Spa has a heavenly massage that brings together sound therapy, Ayurvedic massage, and aromatherapy in one experience. The masseuse uses tuning forks to restore the body's electromagnetic field to ease physical and emotional pain (thank you, 2020!), while Ayurvedic massage focuses on the heart chakra, marmas, and vital meridian points, and grounding and uplifting aromas to release emotional burden and restore a sense of balance and harmony. The 80-minute session is $200.

Keeping your hands busy can reduce stress. While coloring books are great and all— consider trying something a bit more complex like ‘80s style risograph printing—the speedy way to screen print layers of paint-like ink in order to create vibrant designs for posters, comics and illustrations. Luckily, NYC has several incredible riso studios to visit offering private sessions including Lucky Risograph and Secret Riso Club.


We’ve all been spending way too much time in our apartments this year. Luckily, there are fun outdoor winter activities that you can do even without taking a trip outside the city. Next time we get some fresh snow, grab the nearest sled (or whatever flat object might get the job done) and head to one of the city’s best sledding hills. Everyone has their personal favorite spot but this handy guide from NYC Parks shows some of the best spots in each city park.

Working out isn’t fun for everyone—but would it convince you to hit the gym if the one you’re visiting also happens to be an attraction? This year, plan a winter getaway to Hudson and fit in a workout at the stunning boutique hotel, The Maker. While each of the hotel’s showstopper rooms make for a great stay (most likely your main reason for heading up there), don’t miss their circus-themed fitness center with Moulin Rouge decor. Think: over-the-top acrobatics equipment like gymnastics rings and pommel horses. You might have to sneak a photo-op in between push-ups.


Sometimes an escape from NYC is the only thing that can ease your weary mind and body. A cozy fire inside a little cabin upstate can be just what you need. Grab your S.O. or friend and head out to the woods for a quiet and isolated escape from it all, where you can curl up with a book and sip on hot chocolate in front of a fireplace or frosted window. There are myriad options on Airbnb for the perfect cabin stay, including a 20-foot container cabin in the Catskills and a 1920s fishing cottage in Phoenicia.

One thing the past year has reinforced for New Yorkers is the power of self-organized volunteerism. This year, help an NYC community group working to fight the city's mounting challenge of food insecurity. One mutual aid group, Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, is growing their reach in 2021—beyond the 800 households they already support—by providing groceries and necessities like feminine products, soap and diapers. You can donate to their Open Collective or buy some of the creative merch they offer.


Acclaimed techno DJ Carl Craig’s exhibit at Dia Beacon—is the perfect way to fulfill your longing for pulsating music and bass drum in a warehouse this year. Get your ya-yas out at the only techno installation in a museum by a techno artist in the United States. You have until summer 2021 to toe-tap and head bob in the exhilarating exhibition (and pretend like you're in a real club before we can all finally return to the dance floor.)

Want to start experimenting with using crystals but not sure where to start? NYC-based holistic wellness center Maha Rose, which is currently operating as an online store, has the perfect starter kit. Containing eight unique crystals along with their proper chakra placement, the kit will crystallize your sense of well-being in no time. Be sure to check out the entire online store for tons of amazing at-home wellness tools.

Learn a new skill at Brooklyn Craft Company
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Craft Company

Learn a new skill at Brooklyn Craft Company

Being able to make something with your own two hands is empowering. (Not to mention, really cool.) Brooklyn Craft Company has numerous workshops, including embroidery, sewing, macrame, cross stitch, knitting, weaving, watercolor painting and more. They'll put your hands to work and your mind at ease. They also have an online store where you can purchase the necessary supplies you'll need. Get crafting! Workshops begin at $30.

Let this be the year you stop in for (several) tall glasses of delightfully refreshing iced agua frescas at NoHo’s Atla. These skillfully made beverages, by Atla and Cosme’s beverage director Yana Volfson, are non-alcoholic drinks worth traveling for. Full of texture (froth, thickness, crunch, tannin) and complexities, you won’t even miss the alcohol. Opt for the pineapple, tamarind and ginger first—then go back for the rest: watermelon; palo santo, cucumber, yuzu; and horchata.


A fresh, open air activity like running is the perfect new hobby to pick up in the new year. If you’re looking to get into a routine but are having a hard time figuring out how to find the motivation, try joining one of NYC’s many local running clubs. If you’re in the area, one great possibility is Crown Heights Running Club which offers a solid line-up of weekly runs.

Calm your mind and connect yourself to the world around you through a regular meditation session with The Rubin Museum. Mindfulness Meditation is a 45-minute weekly program inspired by different works of art across the museum's collection that includes an opening talk, a 20-minute sitting session and a closing discussion. It's a healthy practice that can help you feel more grounded and connected that doesn't require a lot of time or energy. Starting this month, the program will be pay-what-you-wish.


Detox from the week at The William Vale’s relaunched Winter Spa that’s as cozy—and pampering— as it sounds. With holistic FAR infrared technology Shape House, the hotel's 11th floor (which has prime views of the NYC skyline) is where you should kick back. Ever heard of a sauna blanket? FAR infrared technology provides a deep, penetrating heat that warms the body from the inside out, to sweat it all out, reduced stress and strengthened immune health and glowing skin. Chill out while watching any show or your choosing or throwing on tunes instead. 55-minute sessions run $85 per person (Couple's Sweat are $170).

Though it may be easy to forget when you’re standing in the middle of midtown, ski slopes can be found within just a short drive from NYC. Don’t have a car? Sourced Adventures offers a Snow Bus from NYC to Mountain Creek all season long. The busses, operating at 60 percent capacity, can also include lift tickets, rentals and more in your trip price. Trips start at just $139, Fridays through Sundays, with one stop at Union Square and another in Hell’s Kitchen.


Gyms in New York City may be open, but with cases climbing right now, staying home to get your sweat on isn't a bad idea. Many gyms and instructors (305Fitness, Sputnik Yoga, Chelsea Piers Fitness) are offering their workouts via livestream—some offering limited free trials with a subscription that you can cancel later if you're not feeling it. The online workouts run the gamut, from yoga and pilates to intervals and circuits and cardio.

You can’t beat the central location of Bryant Park’s ice rink or the landmark status of the one at Rockefeller Center. Still, the ice rink that really gives you the best bang for your buck in the city is Lakeside Prospect Park. Two massive, adjoined rinks provide ample space for skating either under a roof or the sky and the rinkside Bluestone Café and Bar serves up burgers and fries with a view. It’s a great, and super fun way, to spend an afternoon in sunshine and fresh air, even in the cold.

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