New York’s fitness class du jour is usually determined by whichever studio can convince the most Victoria’s Secret models and Insta-famous girls to ‘gram from their gym. It’s why I find it so tough to find an available spot in the classes frequented by the Hadid sisters, and one of the reasons why ModelFit, Gotham Gym, and Bari have been such an overwhelming success. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it does mean you’re probably overlooking some pretty great workouts – if you’re more interested in sculpting the best body of your life than documenting your workout on Snapchat, there are plenty of other seriously-effective, but totally underrated studios you should be trying.
The latest such destination that I stumbled upon is Work Train Fight (WTF), a boxing gym with locations in NoHo and Chelsea. Founded by Alberto Oritz, who grew up in the South Bronx surrounded by domestic violence, the studio embodies his life mission to make everyone around him stronger – both physically and mentally.
Here’s the best bit though: A strict “asshole-free policy” (their words, not mine!) ensures you don’t have to deal with any of the peacocking associated with training at some of the city’s other, buzzy locations. Sounds like a dream to me, so I went ahead and looked into booking my first session.
On the WTF schedule there are five different group fitness classes available to choose from, each tailored to different needs. “Our ‘Work’ class is designed for those who want to take a break from boxing and work on their muscle strength – this class is all weights and plyometrics,” explained WTF trainer Amber Trejo.
Then there’s Box Work, WTF’s signature class, which Amber told me is mostly boxing and very popular. “Our ‘Box Group’ features uniquely-designed circuits that work on your boxing technique. In this class, members do have some contact. The ‘Fight’ class is for members who have been training for a while and want to put their skills to the test, there is contact in this class,” she added. I went ahead and booked in a Friday morning Box Work class, based on her recommendation.
My first impression of the gym was that the physical space has a positive, high-energy vibe. It doesn’t have offer of the frills that other studios boast in NYC (like mantras posted across the wall or light-shows in their classes), but the studio’s well-equipped. Inside the group fitness room I spotted a row of boxing bags hanging from the ceiling across one side of the room, and a seriously-ripped trainer leading the class through the first stages of their warm-up.
By the end of the warm-up, I was already out of breath. The first 15 minutes is an intense ramp-up to begin the class that teaches you boxing combinations and defense moves mixed in with plyometric exercises. Then, after pairing up, the class was broken into several stations; two if which were boxing. In WTF you’re not just expected to hit a bag for the full hour – a fast-paced circuit with strength and boxing stations, plus one-on-one training on pads with the instructor. All this means I never once felt bored, as I often do in slower group fitness classes.
What I did feel, however, was exhaustion. And with good reason – Amber told me that you can burn up to 700 calories in a class while working every part of the body. “Boxing doesn’t just work your arms, you are using your entire body. Expect to be sore head-to-toe after WTF,” she warned.
Right now you can buy a pack of classes online – new members get a personal training session, a semi-private class, and a group session like mine for $67. Because sure, you might not run into Karlie Kloss or Miranda Kerr model there, but you probably will box your way to the best body of your life.