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In a city where you’re as likely to see someone wearing athleisure as professional attire, it’s easy to wonder where they’re working up a sweat. With personal training sessions at Dogpound and a stellar SoulCycle community, New York is a mecca for workout classes of any shape or form.
A forerunner of the boutique workout class, SoulCycle is a must for those getting started on the NYC workout scene. Its cult following isn’t unwarranted: funky tap-backs and ab work make it feel like way more than just a spinning class. While instructors have varying styles – music ranges from hip-hop beats to disco tunes – each of the 45-minute sessions encourage riders to push past their mental as well as physical limits. The Kiehl‘s and Drunk Elephant products in the bathrooms here also make getting ready after a morning workout all the more appealing.
A fun one to sign up for with friends, Y7 is one of NYC’s standout classes. The focus here is candlelit, hip-hop yoga and, while it might seem odd to mix Jay-Z with your vinyasa flow, we promise it’s a fantastic blend. Typical classes are either WeFlowHard Vinyasa or Slow Burn, but Hip Hop Wednesdays and Sundays focus on a specific artist. Check Y7’s Instagram on Mondays, when it announces the artist of the week, and make sure to book when one of the most-played artists on your Spotify comes up. For anyone who gets hooked on the vibe, it also orchestrates yoga retreats, such as Y7 x Amalfi Coast.
Renowned for its sprinting intervals and weight work, the so-called “Red Room”, is one of the tougher workouts in town. Each day is dedicated to a different body part – think arms, abs, lower body – you can choose to alternate between the treadmill and floor or double up on your time with the weights. The instructors come from extremely varied backgrounds, so you can sign up for a class taught by a former Broadway star or ex-pro basketball player to match your vibe. After burning the advertised “up to 1,000 calories” in class, you’ll likely want to snag one of Barry’s smoothies before returning to the outside world.
Referred to as “pilates on crack,” SLT is a slow-burn workout on a reformer machine. The name stands for strengthen, lengthen, tone, and as you’ll see from the regulars in class, it works. Each exercise targets a different muscle until it’s exhausted, cycling through more intense variations of classic pilates moves like the mermaid. First-timers should get especially excited for this one, as the instructors are hyper-attentive, particularly in the smaller classes during working hours, if you can swing it. The brand-new Soho location attracts a local trendy crowd and has massive windows looking out onto Broadway, which is a welcome change from the usual dark rooms at workout studios.
A legendary studio that’s famed for training Victoria’s Secret Angels, Dogpound is a surprisingly small gym that focuses on intensive personal training and boxing. If you’re really devoted to the experience the results the team can pair up with one of Dogpound’s star trainers – they alternate between boxing, battling ropes and outdoor weight work, and come with a hefty price tag.
High-intensity is the word here; this class moves through 20 to 40 stations, with two minutes spent at each to target various muscle groups. There’s a DJ and instructor helming the class, and trainers at the stations to show you the moves and make sure everyone is getting the most out of each one. With no repeated stations and HIIT moves at each, this class flies by in no time, and the energy in the room is high throughout (largely thanks to the Shazam-able tracks).
7. Box & Flow
A top-notch exercise in balance, Box & Flow combines boxing with yoga or, as they put it, “flows through the fight”. Each class begins with HIIT warm-up exercises before moving over to the bags for shadowboxing. After several speed and strength rounds, the music slows and you move back to the floor for a soothing yoga session to cap things off and stretch it all out. It’s the perfect transition, and a great way to work your body in a few different ways during one class. Groups here are small, so it has a more intimate feel than studios directed towards herds of Lululemon devotees.
8. 305 Fitness
The ultimate feel-good, spirit-lifting class, 305 is worlds apart from your standard boutique workout. The majority of class time here is a cardio dance party with a DJ leading the way – expect a toning and sprint section before continuing to follow a choreographer’s hip-hop moves. No prior dance experience is required, and this class is a fun way to let loose and work up a sweat without the hardcore intensity of the city’s other sweat sessions.
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