Sweat and the City – The 5 Best Workouts in New York City

Wed, 23 September 2015
Best workouts nyc I Am You

It’s no secret that New Yorkers are addicted to endorphins. While LA may be notorious for its obsession with exercise (on weekends in the City of Angels you’d be hard pressed to spot someone who isn’t decked out in full Lululemon) New York is not far behind. Perhaps it’s the abundance of unbelievably good restaurants and bottomless brunches; or the fact that most Manhattanites find themselves chained to a desk for the majority of their waking hours… either way, make no mistake: New Yorkers like to sweat.

But where they choose to sweat is a little more complicated. Don’t forget, this is a city that prides itself on having a wealth of choice and as a result, trying to pick from the never-ending selection of studios offering yoga, hot yoga, chair pilates, reformer pilates, spinning, circuit training, boxing, barre, ballet – and everything in between – is exhausting in itself. So we’ve done the hard work for you (well, sort of) and selected our absolute favourite studios for squats, splits, sprints and sun salutations. None of them require memberships (did we mention New Yorkers are also commitment-phobes?) so whether you’re passing through the city for a long weekend, or settling in for a more serious stay, these places are perfect for a little exercise sesh before you head back to your bottomless brunch.


Founded by mother-daughter duo Lauren and Rachel Piskin (both former ballerinas) ChaiseFitness offers a unique blend of pilates, ballet and cardio. Their signature class, Reinvention Chair, utilises a pilates chair as well as overhanging bungees which ensure that you’re also toning your arm muscles throughout the 55-minute class. With the help of a consistently fab playlist, the upbeat instructor takes you through sequences of lunges, pikes, ab exercises and aptly-named ‘butt blasters’ (you’ll know it when they come). While you’ll absolutely have broken a sweat by the end of class, you’ll still have energy to hit the shops on 5th Avenue afterwards.

You’ll like this if you like: ballet-inspired workouts that get your heart-rate going.

Perfect for: muscle toning and burning calories.

Price: $39 per class, but the studio offers a $33 three-class package for first-timers.

Favourite class/instructor: Reinvention Chair with Catherine or Taeler, or for something more challenging, Cardio Chair with Tara.

Exceed Physical Culture

The beauty of Exceed Physical Culture is that your first class is completely free, which means that there’s no reason not to give this place a go. The problem is that once you’ve tried Exceed, it’s hard to find any other class that offers the same structured, high-intensity, full-body workout with such likeable instructors and intimate group sizes. Yes, this place really ticks all the boxes. The 50-minute class follows the circuit-training method, whereby you run through a series of super speedy exercises utilising kettlebells, TRX, rowing machines, bosu balls, jump ropes and good old-fashioned body weight. It’s intense, no question, but the nature of the specific exercises means that 1. you can completely modify to your own ability and 2. every single class feels different. It won’t take too many classes before you start feeling like a professional athlete.

You’ll like this if you like: HIIT or Tabata-style workouts.

Perfect for: building strength and stamina.

Price: $32 per class, but your first class is free and the studio offers a subsequent two for $32 intro package.

Favourite class/instructor: The Workout with Marianna or Kelly

Brooklyn Bodyburn

For many, the term pilates means an easy workout focusing on alignment, flexibility and balance. Brooklyn Bodyburn, and its 55-minute megaformer pilates workout, is anything but easy. Yes, it’s low impact (you spend the entire class on the megaformer so it’s completely joint-friendly) but expect to shake, sweat and potentially curse under your breath over the course of the class. While the movements are fairly simple – lunges, planks, pikes – it’s the slowwww repetition that really sets your muscles on fire (hence, “the burn”). This is not to scare you away, the class is tough but these guys know what they’re doing and the results are incredible. With targeted exercises that hit your legs, bum and tum, it’s probably one of the most effective pilates-style classes you’ll ever take.

You’ll like this if you like: pilates on a reformer or megaformer.

Perfect for: toning, core strengthening and calorie blasting (apparently 500 to 800 in a single class).

Price: $35 per class, but $18 for first timers and the studio subsequently offers a $79 five-class intro package.

Favourite class/instructor: Total Body with Abby or Kelly.


We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a yoga studio on this list and frankly there are A LOT to choose from in the city. Located in a swanky loft apartment in the heart of Little Italy, I.AM.YOU – whose signature class combines breathing exercises, fast-paced sequences and a hip soundtrack – might just be our favourite. But we’re not the only ones. New York’s yogis are pretty enamoured with I.AM.YOU’s founder Lauren Imparato, a former Morgan Stanley exec who traded in her hectic job on Wall Street to build a lifestyle company and yoga studio in Manhattan. Lauren’s been lauded by the likes of Vogue, CNN, Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times, and when you take her class it’s easy to see why. We love her intelligent and no-bullshit approach towards the yoga practice. Sure she takes her ohm’s pretty seriously, but she’ll also regularly host wine-tastings post class and bring in special DJs to mix beats as you flow through your sun salutations. While you can expect to get your heart rate going and be challenged with some pretty intense postures, you’ll also leave the class feeling relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. Not a bad combination if you ask us.

You’ll like this if you like: yoga with a little pizazz (and sometimes wine).

Perfect for: stretching and calming.

Price: $30 per class (includes mat and towel).

Favourite class/instructor: I.AM.YOU Signature Hour with Lauren.

Mile High Run Club

For many, a treadmill-based workout may seem a little odd. Why go to a class to do something you’ve been doing on your own for years? But trust us when we tell you that a class at Mile High will change your mind. Primarily geared towards runners and marathon trainers, the signature class at Mile High incorporates a warm-up, just under half an hour on the treadmill (included varying speeds and inclines), and a 10-minute strengthening section with kettlebells and bodyweight exercises. All that in just 45-minutes means it’s probably one of the most efficient classes out there. The affable trainers are also incredibly detail oriented, so they’ll give you tips on how to refine your form, maintain stamina and get the best distance. While anyone can run, very few do it correctly; we love Mile High because it takes the simplest of workouts and ensures perfection. And the Drake-heavy playlists don’t hurt either…

You’ll like this if you like: to run!

Perfect for: cardio, marathon training and squeezing a quick class into a busy day.

Price: $32 per class, but your first class is just $20.

Favourite class/instructor: Dash28 with Matthew or Debora.


Exceed Physical Culture

Brooklyn Bodyburn


Mile High Run Club

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