Let me first start off by saying I’m not one of those people who believes in a particular workout like a religion despite exercising religiously—for instance, I have no patience for yoga and certainly don’t believe those small movements and soft sayings are going to yield the six pack I’ve been chasing since high school. I kid you not when I say I’ve tried every workout under the sun: yoga, HIIT, barre, pilates, boxing, spinning in every form they’re offered in NYC. I’ve done Fhitting Room, Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle—I literally could go on and on. When it comes to working out, the only thing I believe in are results.
With that said, I was looking for a class that would complement my personal training sessions in anticipation of my upcoming wedding. And while it took me a good half of my adulthood to find what I was looking for, praise be that I actually found it in the shape of a reformer machine named . No, I’m not talking about that thing you see in introductory pilates classes, I’m talking the real thing that makes you curse under your breath and has your limbs shaking for almost an hour. My goal was to find a low impact full body workout that would get me toned, fast.
Enter , a torture chamber class that will challenge your body as much as your mind (if not more). What goes down in this room is some sh*t I have never experienced, and I truly don’t know if there is anything that I hate and love more than this type of class. While this is hands down the hardest workout I’ve ever done, it is also one of the easiest on your joints since there is little to no impact. So, for all my other cardio haters, rejoice, because there’s no jumping or running during any part and your knees won’t hurt.
You spend the entire duration of the class on the machine, which is broken up into three different parts: a back platform and a front platform on either end, and a middle part, referred to as the carriage, which moves in either direction. How difficult it is to move the carriage depends on how many or how little springs you have on (see image above). There are various weights of spring load which can be adjusted throughout the entire class. There are specific moves that target different areas: think moving lunges for thighs, twisted v-ups for obliques, and kneeling shoulder presses for arms.
The core tenet for this workout is time under tension. During class, you do a series of exercises based off of planks, squats, and lunges with lots of variety to break down your muscle fibers all the way to second stage muscle failure, specifically, your slow twitch muscle fibers. This creates micro tears/trauma, which is why the workout hurts so f*cking much. But unlike most fitness classes, you will never once wonder to yourself, “is this sh*t actually working?” like I do every 30 seconds in a Pure Barre class. After class, your body will go into repair mode to heal the muscles, so they grow back stronger. During this time, your metabolism is heightened for the next 24-48 hours.
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The workout challenges you to stop focusing on calories, and to focus instead on the development of muscles you’re creating. You are literally making yourself stronger, but I feel like the fact that you can endure this type of tension for 50 minutes straight will challenge your mind more than your body. Your brain will quit working out before your body actually will, so during these extreme moments of tension, you will need to mentally fight against yourself, something that you can take with you outside the classroom that will help you way past the 24-48 hours the workout will take you.
You don’t need to take a million classes to see results either. “If you can only do 2 times per week, we guarantee you will see and feel changes in your body. In fact, I don’t even take class every single day,” explains Senior Master Coach Jacob Griffin who has been working for since their first studio opened in Washington, DC. “If you choose to show up and work hard for the 50 minutes you choose to be here, you’re set.” P.S. Jacob used to teach Michelle Obama, and we all know what her arms look like so…
Images: solidcore / Instagram
The one thing I hate almost as much as public displays of affection is people who never shut the f*ck up about how much they work out (you know who you are). Like, we have eyes so we get it it, you’re fit! The thing is, I also work out a lot, but I keep that sh*t to myself and pretend that all I do is eat pizza and binge SVU marathons, and just happen to have toned arms. Like, Emily Ratajkowski does that and she seems to be doing just fine. Even though she famously and allegedly doesn’t work out, her incredible body indicates otherwise, so like…what’s the deal here? Anyway, for those of you who want to get swole for the Soho House pool or the Coney Island beach (see ya there, homies), these New York workout classes are a must. They are hard enough that you’re actually doing #werk, but not so hard that you feel like you’ve just joined the Marines.
Full disclosure, I mostly spin because I need the most effective cardio to rid my body of evidence that I eat cheeseburgers more than once a week, so there may or may not be more than one spin studio on here. However, because I’ll give anything a go, as my sex injuries can attest, I’ve tried almost every workout class New York has to offer. Here are my favorites.
The Monster Cycle
I love SoulCycle as much as every other Pumpkin Spice Latte-loving betch, but since my favorite instructor left me to open London’s first Soul, I had to look elsewhere for my dose of spin. TBH, I refuse to go to FlyWheel because my Tanya Harding-level competitiveness cannot handle the scoreboard situation there, so I headed to The Monster Cycle in Soho, and let me just say, I f*cking love this place. It’s adorned with hardcore S&M decor, which definitely made it feel really welcoming (lol, kidding).
In all seriousness, this place has a v specific vibe (S&M/goth), but it’s so cool and everyone who works there is actually incredibly nice, which I wasn’t expecting considering the mannequins f*cking upside down in a harness hanging from the ceiling is fully a thing in the reception area. Ok, so you go downstairs to the studio where there are no assigned seats, so get there early otherwise you will end up behind a pole in the back. No thx! Two things set this place apart and will keep me coming back forever. The first is the fact that there are two giant TV screens on either side of the instructor and the screens project the music video of the song that’s playing, which is really helpful because they give me something to think about other than how much my legs hurt. The second is that this place literally always has flash sales. This feels really refreshing, considering every other New York studio just wants to make sure I won’t be able to afford to send my future children to college. The amount of calories you burn depends on your intensity. So when Demetre tells you to turn the knob to the right and sprint, you should, because there is potential to burn 400-700 calories in the 45 minute class.
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?DROPPIN’ BANGERS LIKE ITS HOT? New choreo out today ?? Come eff this one up with us!! Tag a friend & follow us – we’ll pick 5 lucky peeps to win a free class! Wanna learn this choreo? Peep our IGTV for a step-by-step guide ? ? Tempo – @lizzobeeating ft @missymisdemeanorelliott ? @tacobell_dsl . ? @sonnyjaye #305fitness #makesweatsexy
The only reason I tried this place is because it’s three blocks away from my apartment. 305 is a f*cking dance party, y’all. If you follow their Instagram, you’ll notice that every single instructor has an incredible wardrobe and can dance like they’re about to be hand-selected for Coachella performances by Queen Bey herself. I was initially nervous to try 305 because I’m a good dancer, but I’m truly horrible at remembering choreography—which is probably why my dance career ended in 10th grade, but whatever. It’s fine. I’m fine. Here’s the thing: 305 requires zero memorizing! PRAISE F*CKING BE! Katie is my fave teacher and she is like a tiny blonde ball of energy who can make a really accurate siren sound with her mouth. I’m sure you’re wondering why that tiny detail is important, and it’s because she makes that sound when it’s time to switch sides, turn around, get low, or what have you. 305 isn’t dancing like, pirouette and leaps, it’s like high-intensity Miami-style club dancing. Wow, cool, that’s the whitest thing I have ever said in my life! No wonder Miami club dancers always have bikini ready bodies because you can burn up to 900 calories per class. My point is, it’s fun dancing that requires you to give absolutely no f*cks if you want to enjoy it. Highly recommend, especially if your dance floor moves need a little face lift.
Not all barre classes are created equal, and that is a fact! When I used to live in Atlanta, I lived above a Pure Barre, so I got a membership because it was convenient, but I literally took a class five days a week for three months and looked the exact same on day one as I did on day 90. What’s that about? It about the fact that barre classes generally focus on toning rather than calorie burning. The average barre class burns 250 calories (along with your ability to walk for the next week). Anyway, I was skeptical to try any other barre classes after Pure Barre, especially really expensive ones in New York. Then I tried Exhale and may never be able to lift my arms again because this class is werk. Exhale is no joke, people.
So if you’re looking to half-ass a workout class during a fatal hangover to make yourself feel like you’re at least kind of doing something, don’t go to Exhale. It is so f*cking hard (in a good way) that I brought a male friend who, until that day, thought barre classes were too easy for men, and he is still sore. The moves are really hard. There’s one where you lay on your side with your legs bent toward your chest and you lift and lower your top knee while keeping your feet together. Sounds easy? Try it right now and you’ll see what I mean. So, yeah, that was really hard, but then they’ll come around and tie a resistance band around your legs. Fun! Then they’ll put a weight in one hand and ask you to side-crunch as you lift your top knee. All I gotta say is, Exhale barre classes hurt so, so good. I’ve been going for about two months now and I think I can see the beginnings of an ab crack! Goals met!
If you don’t want to switch from the bag to the floor or whatever else, Hit House is a straight Muay Thai kickboxing studio. So, what the f*ck is Muay Thai? Muay Thai directly translates to “Thai Boxing,” and the class consists of jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, kicks, knees and elbows. You’ll get your own personal bag (or bishop) and you’ll get to attack it to the rhythm of your favorite hit songs right now. This class takes the intensity of a kickboxing class to the next level, which inevitably means more calories are burned. Women usually burns 762 calories while men typically burn 888 calories during an hour of Muay Thai, so you don’t need to feel guilty for finishing that pint of Ben Jerry’s alone or an entire bottle of wine. And, as an added bonus, you’ll probably feel like a badass after almost an hour of beating up a punching bag.
If you don’t like hot yoga, just stop reading now because it feels like it’s at least 400 degrees in any given Y7 class. As you can see, I like v basic types of workouts, but I like going to non-basic studios that do something to set themselves apart from the millions of other workout places in this godforsaken city. Y7 is three sets of flows that each include three sub-flows. The first is slow, the second is one breath per movement, and the third is flow on your own. So what sets Y7 apart? You’re not flowing to the soothing sounds of birds in a forest. Instead, the instructors play hip-hop. YES! Lastly, there are no mirrors and it’s pitch black save for a candle in each corner of the room. Yes, the darkness and lack of mirrors makes it a little harder to balance, but personally, I like the no mirror/darkness situation because I don’t feel self-conscious. Also, not to be the most annoying yogi ever, but not being able to see yourself forces you to just focus on the poses instead of the ungodly shade of red your face is. Another thing I love about Y7 is that toward the end of class, there’s a little strength push that usually involves some sort of ab workout. The pushes are literally never more than two minutes, so that motivates me to just do it instead of half-assing it until it’s over. As the instructors say, “You can literally do anything for two minutes!” I mean, not true, but you can definitely hold boat pose for 120 seconds. And if you can push, it’s worth it: women can expect to burn around 350 calories and men 450.
My good friend Gigi Hadid got me into boxing. I KID, Gigi and I do not know each other, but if Gigi Hadid looks the way she does from boxing, then bury me in the ring. This could be the case because boxing burns around 400 calories per hour for women and 500 for men. Now, as far as boxing workout classes go, Overthrow is the opposite of Rumble in that it’s not ~trending right now~ and never will be because the instructors don’t give a sh*t if you Instagram your heart out at the Bleecker Street studio. Overthrow is legit boxing, though. After you get your wraps on, you head downstairs to a large rectangular ring that’s almost littered with heavy bags tethered to the ceiling via chain locks. The first half of the class is you beating the sh*t out of the bag and the second half is sparring with either your friend or a stranger. Bring a friend if you feel awkward about hitting someone you’ve never met. Before the bag part begins, the instructor turns the music off and tells everyone what the different types of punches are, which are all referred to by numbers. That way, he can say a bunch of different numbers really fast and you can correspond with the right punches. Am I Rocky? Honestly, maybe. The music is so loud that you get so into it and start beating the actual f*ck out of the bag and it feels so good. Like, I may just quit my job and become a professional boxer now.
Want to work out, but don’t want to break a sweat? Head to brrrn. But don’t get it twisted: these classes will still kick your ass, even if you’re not drenched afterwards. Why? Unlike most other fitness classes that crank up the heat to make you think you’ve gotten in a better workout, brrrn takes the opposite approach. It’s the first fitness studio to operate at temperatures below 72 degrees, which gives you benefits like burning more calories and working out more efficiently. There are three different types of workout classes, all 50 minutes long and conducted at 50 degrees: hit, slide and hit + slide. The hit class is a high-intensity class that incorporates battle ropes and a dumbbell circuit series for a full body strength and conditioning workout. The slide class is a mid-impact class that consists of core exercises and a cardio slide board series which aims to increase balance and core strength along with a full body conditioning. The hit + slide class is most definitely a high-intensity class which includes the slide board, battle rope, and a dumbbell circuit series for a full body strength and conditioning workout. It’s proof you don’t have to sweat to get a great workout in.
Box + Flow
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If you can’t decide whether to take a high-intensity boxing class or low-intensity yoga class, head here. Box + Flow is the first class that allows you to do both, splitting your time between boxing and yoga. The 35 minute “box” portion of the class is first, then you move onto the 15 minute “flow” portion. It’s great because many workout classes give you, like, three minutes to stretch, which as we all know from trying to walk after an interval running class, is not enough. The yoga portion of the class really gives you the ability to stretch and center yourself after punching for over half an hour. As for the calorie count, a person usually burns between 300-450 calories in a 30 minute boxing class and burn 80-120 calories in 20 minutes of yoga. Taking into consideration the 35 minutes of boxing and 15 minutes of yoga, you could expect to burn 410-615 calories total. Not bad for a two-in-one workout!
The entire class is done on top of a megaformer machine they like to call “Sweatlana.” Ever heard of her? The class itself consists of “50 minutes of high-intensity, low impact, slow and controlled movements.” You can burn 500-700 calories per 50 minute megaformer class so don’t let the slow, isolated movements fool you. Every workout sequence starts with a plank, squat or lunge to strengthen your whole body, and ensure you can’t walk so when people ask why, you can say “it’s from Solidcore.” #Ad, and suddenly you’re an influencer. They offer beginner, fully body and muscle-specific workout classes so you can go whether your body type is “works out, “works out but definitely eats dessert,” or just “eats dessert.” It’s the holy grail of pilates classes being that they define themselves as “pilates-intensified.”
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We all know the struggle of going into a fitting room, trying on an outfit, and only seeing the burger, fries, and ice cream you devoured last night. The struggle is real. You convince yourself in that moment that you need to workout. Fhitting Room is a workout studio that ensures you’ll get that killer mirror selfie next time you’re in the fitting room. Is that why they call it that? I have no idea, but it works. Its classes consist of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, like every other workout class in America nowadays, but for good reason. Speaking from experience, this class will kill you—but like, in a good way. You will get a good workout, and you’ll likely learn moves like snatches, cleans, and other kettlebell movements you can use at the gym on your own time, or in other fitness classes. They also offer small classes at certain locations (10ish people) so you can get all the personalized attention and none of the intimidation of a big class.
Images: overthrownewyork, y7studio, exhalespa, 305fitness, themonstercycle, brrrn, hithouse, boxandflow, solidcore, fhittingroom / Instagram
Working out in NYC tends to get way more expensive and complicated than it should. Basically, it has all the bougie, celeb-studded options of LA, but none of the free, nature-y options of LA (hiking, beach running, chasing down Kardashians—you get it). Sure, you could dodge tourists in Central Park, but your patience will be getting more of a workout than you are. And IMO, all the hidden fees and rush hours involved in traditional gym memberships are a pain. So, in the interest of getting the best workouts for the best price, you sign up for ClassPass—only to discover that half the options there are just as expensive as booking regular classes. That’s where I come in. I’ve tracked down the best boutique fitness studios that actually offer deals through ClassPass—here’s where you should go. Note on how I’m pricing credits: I pay $94/month for 45 ClassPass credits + Blink membership. That’s less than $2/credit; if I buy additional, it’s priced at $2.50/credit.
Regular price: $38 Best ClassPass price: 12 credits ($24-30)
Fhitting Room offers high-intensity interval training: you’ll lift some weights, use some machines, and do burpees while a trainer screams at you until your chest hits the floor. I’m not even being that dramatic—if you like trainers who go easy on you, either hire someone with a meek demeanor or, IDK, don’t go to any of the studios on this list. Classes here can go up to 21 credits on ClassPass (at which point you’d be better off just buying them at the regular price), but if you choose your time carefully, you can book for 12 or 13. Right now, I’m looking at the app and there are 13-credit classes available at 9:30am all week, plus every Saturday afternoon class. It’s a killer deal for a lot of hands-on attention from legit trainers.
Regular price: $35 Best ClassPass price: 10 credits ($20-25) ShadowBox is—you guessed it—a boxing class! You’ll warm up with some cardio drills and shadowboxing, then go into seven rounds of bag work with more cardio (jumping jacks, burpees) or static holds (air squat, planks) in between. Most classes are 18 credits on ClassPass, but midday during the week is often 10 credits (don’t worry, they have showers), as are early morning weekend classes. Hey, I never said the most convenient classes would be the cheapest. I’ve only been to the Flatiron location, but the studio is very chic, and I honestly thought I was going to die the first time I took a class there. If that’s not a sign of a good workout, what is?
Overthrow Underground Boxing
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Regular price: $34 Best ClassPass price: 8 credits ($16-20) I legitimately almost didn’t include this on the list because it’s my favorite place to work out, and I don’t want it to get any busier. That being said, I’m too generous not to clue you all in on the amazing deal and workout experience of Overthrow. At 8 credits a class (and there are a lot of options) plus free glove rentals, this place would probably be my go-to for boxing even if it weren’t my favorite workout (which it is). Classes are in a dark basement, which is cooler than it sounds, and includes shadowboxing, circuit training, bag work, and partner work. It’s improved my boxing more than any other studio, and just makes me feel GOOD. Definitely a different experience from Shadowbox, so try both and see what you like.
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At Switch, we focus on providing great Total Body Conditioning workouts that rise to the next level by incorporating functional training exercises, allowing you to train and practice for real life scenarios.? That’s the difference. ? #switchplaygroundnyc #switch #fitness #nycfitness
Regular price: $36 Best ClassPass price: 8 credits ($16-20) Switch Playground is a very specific type of workout class: you spend two minutes at 20 different stations, with two exercises per station that you alternate between in rounds of 30 seconds. If it sounds complicated, it’s not—they have a bunch of trainers in the room who demonstrate each exercise and tell you exactly when to switch to the next movement. If you get bored easily, this is the perfect class for you. And if you take a while to get into each exercise, it’s definitely not. Either way, it’s a high-powered, high-energy class with a DJ and fun lighting that will certainly make you break a sweat. And all for $16.
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Regular price: $25 Best ClassPass price: 6 credits ($12-15) I absolutely love hot yoga, but after a few months of cutting out all other forms of exercise, I reluctantly admitted it didn’t have the calorie-burning power I needed. I’m not saying Y7 is an exception to this, but I am saying that it offers enough non-calorie benefits that keep me coming back. Y7’s yoga classes are conducted in candle-lit, mirrorless rooms, and have you go through three yoga sequences first with a class, then on your own. Remembering the sequence can be a little challenging, but I swear it’s improved my memory and overall yoga abilities—plus, the lack of mirrors lets me lean into the meditation aspect of yoga way more than classes where I’m constantly checking myself out. (What? I look hot doing yoga.) Whatever your relationship to yoga, I’d recommend trying Y7 at least once. There you have it! I’m mildly concerned that all these studios will raise their ClassPass prices once they find out they’re offering better deals, but that’s a risk I’ll take in the name of journalism. Please don’t overcrowd my fave classes, but if I’ve made working out in NYC an easier experience for you, then I’ll be happy. Images: Chase Kinney / Unsplash; fhittingroom, sbx_boxing. overthrownewyork, switchplaygroundnyc, y7studio / Instagram