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
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