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Row New York
Photograph: Harry Pocius Row New York

Where to try Summer Olympic sports in NYC

Sure, Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps are pretty cool. But why just watch the Olympics when you can do them?

By Jennifer Michalski

Pumped for the Summer Olympics in Rio? Us too. But if all of the stellar athletic feats make you mad you can’t, you know, actually do that, don’t fret: You can try a bunch of these sports without leaving the city. Discover water sports and fitness options at cool gyms in NYC that will make you feel like you’re going for gold. (If you need some inspiration, check out our list of the best sports movies of all time and get pumped with our playlist of workout songs. And after your workout, treat yourself by experiencing one of the coolest things to do in summer in NYC.)

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the Olympics

Summer Olympic sports in NYC

summer olympics
Photograph: Chris Stein

Archery: Gotham Archery

Sports and fitness Gowanus

This Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, shooting gallery is a range that would make even Katniss Everdeen quiver. (Get it? Quiver? Don’t worry, you will.) The 30-lane–strong facility has an intro class for newbies, in which arrow-slinging first-timers are taught by a USA Archery–certified instructor on how to nail that bull’s-eye. Gotham Archery offers complimentary equipment for newbs—and you can even go over a video of yourself in action with a pro. Take the tips to heart: Each session wraps up with a friendly competition game, during which the best shot wins a prize—and bragging rights. 480 Baltic St, Brooklyn (718-858-5060, $35/one-hour class, including equipment; $16/one-hour lane rental; $11/daily equipment rental.

summer olympics
Photograph: New York City Badminton

Badminton: New York City Badminton

You may have played a backyard game of badminton before, but the competitive sport, in which shuttlecock speeds can reach 300 miles per hour, is a whole other ball of wax. New York City Badminton hosts weekly private and small-group classes (maximum four peeps) at two Manhattan locations, where a professional coaches you through the basics: footwork, serving and receiving, and hand positioning. Not only will you glean pro-level advice, but you’ll get in a good sweat from all of those explosive sprints—call that two birds with one stone (er, shuttlecock). Humanities Preparatory Academy, 351 W 18th St. Tue 6:30–11pm. · Robert Wagner Middle School, 220 E 76th St. Wed, Fri 6:30–10:30pm. ·; $70/30-minute private or small-group class, $120/one-hour private or small-group class, $600/10 30-minute classes, $1,100/10 one-hour classes.

summer olympics
Photograph: Courtesy Overthrow NYC

Boxing: Overthrow NYC

Sports and fitness Boxing and kickboxing Noho

Overthrow—a fitting name, given that the Youth International Party was founded in the same Bowery building in the ’60s—is a multilevel boxing studio held down by a team of world-class fighters like trainer Alicia Napoleon, a World Boxing Council champ. Novices should start with the nonimpact Boxing Burnout class for shadowboxing, bag work, basic punches and one hell of a cardio exercise. From there, the class Ring Work teaches technique—footwork, proper jabs and rolling—and when you’re primed, pumped and ready, your coach matches you up with partners for Thursday’s full-contact sparring sessions. If you make it through all that, gear up for Overthrow’s Friday-evening Boxing and Booze Burnouts—you’ll have earned it. 9 Bleecker St (646-705-0332, $34/class, $99/three classes, $100/monthly membership (unlimited $15 classes), $120/private training session.

summer olympics
Photograph: Courtesy Manhattan Fencing Club

Fencing: Manhattan Fencing Center

Sports and fitness Midtown West

We mean it when we say that the training at Manhattan Fencing Center is Olympic caliber: Three MFC fencers made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, and the institution’s founder? Yeah, he’s their coach. Sign up for group or private lessons, and expect to learn everything from how to wield your weapon, proper footwork and parries (attack-deflecting maneuvers) to how to properly hold your weapon. If you’re still on the, ahem, fence about classes, you can watch others in action before deciding whether you’ve earned the right to man the sword. 225 W 39th St, second floor (212-382-2255, $400/four 40-minute private classes, $120/three group classes; free adult classes Fri at 3:30pm

summer olympics
Photograph: Scott McDermott

Gymnastics: Chelsea Piers

Sports and fitness Chelsea

If watching Olympian gymnasts makes you go, “Omigod, how do they do that?” then Chelsea Piers has you covered: The 23,000-square-foot gymnastics facility is packed with two of every apparatus used by real-deal gymnasts down in Rio. No advance sign-ups are required, either: Just show up to one of the regularly scheduled classes, and an instructor will start you off with stretches and basic tumbling drills. It might be a while before you’re nailing those roundoff–back-handspring triple twists, but a trampoline jump into the foam pit sounds more fun anyway. (The spot has those, too.) Pier 62, enter at W 21st St and Twelfth Ave (212-336-6500, Wed–Fri, Mon, Tue noon–1:30pm, 7:30–9pm; $30/beginner or intermediate class.

summer olympics
Photograph: Courtesy Five Points Academy

Judo: Five Points Academy

Sports and fitness Gyms and fitness centers Tribeca

Judo isn’t so much a sport as it is a science, or as judoka Kevin McGrath at Five Points Academy calls it, “a thinking man’s fighting skill.” In the studio’s beginner class, you’ll start as a white belt, becoming comfortable with fundamental circular movement and understanding how body energy and your center of gravity can enable you to leverage your opponent effortlessly and painlessly. Have patience: The dating-back-to-the-1800s discipline requires time, practice and complete control of your body. Good luck, New York. 148 Lafayette St (212-226-4474, Thu, Tue 7:15–8:10pm; $35/class, $199/monthly membership. through Aug 31

summer olympics
Photograph: Courtesy Row New York

Rowing: Row New York

Take a break from your gym’s stationary machine, and head outdoors to the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse on the Harlem River, where Row New York takes you through Learn to Row classes. In a four-hour level-one session, you get the basics down: terminology, safety and sweep-rowing techniques on indoor erg machines and an on-the-water, stable rowing barge. If you’re hungry for more, the eight-session level-two course focuses on enhancing technique and learning to work with a team to develop rhythm and to power shell (boat) movement. 3579 Harlem River Dr (718-433-3075, $125/Learn to Row I class, $325/eight-session Learn to Row II course.

summer olympics
Photograph: Courtesy Atlantic Yachting

Sailing: Atlantic Yachting

Sports and fitness Uptown

Looking to be a baller on a boat? Of course you are, fancy pants. Learn the ropes at the West 79th Street Boat Basin, where Atlantic Yachting will have you at the ship’s helm almost immediately. Get your feet wet with the course Introduction to Sailing, which teaches basic maneuvers, knots, docking and terminology (like starboard versus portside). But if you really want to be legit, the course Basic Keelboat gets you certified so you can go out on your own—or at the very least, impress your pals with that captain’s hat. 79 Hudson River Greenway (212-518-4604, $475/Basic Keelboat ASA 101 group class; Sat, Sun 10am–5pm. $450/Introduction to Sailing private class; three hours, at your convenience. $1,490/Basic Keelboat ASA 101 private classes; three four-hour classes, at your convenience.

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