Personally, I’ll try any workout at least once. Whether it’s a new age-y meditation hybrid class or a high-intensity cardio circuit designed to break you, I’m happy to put up my hand, pull on my sneakers, and give it a go.
This means I’ve frequented dozens and dozens of different workout studios in the years I’ve lived in New York City. There was the celebrity-approved class that literally had me crying in public (yes, this happened), multiple spin alternatives to SoulCycle, and even a workout that had me paddle-boarding with sea lions (also, this really happened). All this experience has given me a little perspective about what makes a great class—and a great studio—and what doesn’t. So, to save you the trial and error, I’ve short-listed the seven best fitness studios in New York City that I tested out in 2016!
At Barry’s Bootcamp in Chelsea, treadmills are stacked alongside each other against one mirrored wall, while the other half of the room is dotted with steps ready for resistance training. The mood is pretty seriously: Red bulbs light-up the dark room and fast-paced tunes blare from the speakers. Each workout includes a treadmill component and a weights component, and every day is a new theme. For example, at the Chelsea studio every class on a Tuesday is about working out your butt, while another day might focus on arms and abs. Barry’s is not for the faint-hearted, so consider yourself warned.
MNDLF is a place to exercise your mind, not your body. The Greenwich Village studio brought the concept of booking a cushion online—just like you would reserve a spin bike—mainstream. They offer guided group meditation practice in a chic, light-filled studio that’s specifically designed with neutral colors and natural light to make you feel calm and relaxed. Next year, MNDFL’s even expanding to offer both an Upper East Side location (which soft launches on December 19 and officially January 3), and a third space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
It’s hard to decide whether we love simply being in Karen Lord’s stylish, light-filled room reformer Pilates studio, or if it’s in fact the body-toning classes led by some of the most knowledgeable instructors in the business that keep us going back. Even if you’re not a huge fan of reformer, the Jumpboard class is a must-try. This 55-minute reformer session promises to burn more calories than your classic Pilates practice, and is recommended to advanced clients rather than complete newbies.
One of the best things about Karen Lord Pilates (yes, there’s another!), is that class sizes are small, which means you really do get great one-on-one instruction and advice from the teacher. Classes are capped at eight for most sessions, although you will often have only four or five other women alongside you.
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This cool, Williamsburg-based studio is our favorite place for MegaFormer in NYC. The studio has a low-key, relaxed vibe and class sizes are small, so you get plenty of attention from the instructor.
For the uninitiated, MegaFormer is basically an hour-long ass-kicking that looks a lot like reformer Pilates, but is far more intense. The class burns more calories than classic Pilates, and is a favorite for celebs like Kim Kardashian, Sofia Vergara, Michelle Obama, and Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio. Tracy Carlinsky, a megaformer teacher and founder of Brooklyn Bodyburn, says anywhere between 300 to 800 calories can be burned in her classes, much more than a classic reformer session.
It’s Gigi Hadid’s favorite gym—and with good reason. At Gotham Gym you train inside an actual boxing ring, which is super motivating. One of their most popular classes (read: our favorite), G-BOX, whips you into shape with a combination of boxing and muscle-sculpting moves for your butt, legs, abs, back, and arms. Class sizes are small, and you’re partnered-up with someone of similar build who , so it’s impossible to slack off.
Heather Andersen’s New York Pilates studios can be found in all over the city, but our favorite spot is her recently-opened Noho location. This space is huge, and an absolute dream for minimalists who also love to work up a sweat. Andersen works with dozens of knowledgable trainers to offer classes in the mornings and evenings that are challenging, low impact. Her method will strengthen your whole body—but particularly your midriff zone—elongate rather than bulk-up your muscles and frame.
Complete with a zen cafe, Woom Center is a multi-dimensional, experiential, mind-blowing combination of sound meditation and yoga. The physical space itself is airy, chic, and modern, and feel mores like a healthy cafe than a gym. There’s rustic wooden furniture, hanging plants, plenty of natural light, a bar and eating area serving superfood-packed juices and vegan dishes. The “woom” is where the class takes place, and at first looks like a simple timber-floored room with high ceilings, yoga mats, bolsters, blankets, and a large gong at the front. During the class you’re immersed in the technology, including a 4D sound system that allows the sound to vibrate throughout the space and your body. There’s even a projection system to create a moving visual light installation, and a scent-diffusing system!