As a health and fitness editor, I am routinely contacted by PR gurus and studio owners about trying out various new classes, workouts, gyms and training studios throughout New York City. While I love experimenting with and trying new workouts, far too often I show up at a studio only to realize that the “media” class is simply a shorter, condensed version of the actual workout. And other times I realize that I just hate the workout and would never try it again on my own.
In a world where drop-in class rates cost upwards of $30, I want to help you figure out what’s worth spending your hard-earned money on (and prevent wasting your money on a class you absolutely detest).
Here’s a review of all of the new gyms and workouts I tried out in October, so you can get the scoop before trying them out yourself.
The Training Lab
Where: 28 West 37th Street, 2nd Floor | Chelsea
What: The Training Lab advertises itself as a, “strength and cardio fitness studio where you come to train hard, train smart, and become a better version of yourself. The Training Lab offers 55 minute HIIT workouts that will get your heart pumping in small groups of 12.”
My Take: Honestly, The Training Lab reminded me of Tone House NYC — arguably the most difficult workout in New York City — minus the elitist attitude. We began class in a similar fashion to classes I’ve experienced at Tone House (running laps around the turf-lined indoor arena while incorporating bear crawls, shuffles, hops and more) yet upped the ante a bit with multiple climbs up and down the stairs. The class combined a variety of bodyweight movements, calisthenics, running, and pure grit. We did crab walks, sprints, lunges while holding sandbags over our heads, squats with kettlebells, and two-minute timed intervals of sit-ups with a partner.
Pro Tip: This class will humble you (unless you are The Rock circa Baywatch). There’s no slacking off in this class — be prepared for a TOUGH workout.
Best Part of Class? There’s accountability with the small-group class. Not only does the instructor hold you accountable, but your classmates do, too. During timed partner sit ups, I slacked off for about a fourth of a second before my partner slapped my legs and encouraged (or yelled?) at me to keep going.
Do I recommend It? Yes. But you WILL be sore the next day.
Deal for Newbies: Two-for-one first-timer package (2 classes for $39), classes are normally $39 each
Difficulty Level: 9 out of 10
Where: 25 W. 23rd Street; See full list of locations online
What: With the tagline, “The Original Hip Hop Yoga studio,” Y7 offers yoga classes in a dark, candlelit studio featuring music and an infrared heating system. Their signature ‘WeFlowHard’ class features Vinyasa flow sequences carefully choreographed to music that ranges from The Weeknd to Stevie Wonder.
My Take: Yoga has been a difficult activity for me to get into because ALL I can think about during the class is how inflexible my body is. Plus, I never feel like I great a GREAT workout. Y7’s nontraditional approach to yoga (featuring music and “flow on your own” periods) made me more comfortable AND more confident in the practice. Plus, the heated studio allowed me to leave super sweaty and feeling like I got an intense workout.
Pro Tip: Fake it til you make it. During the FOYO (flow on your own) sections, I often forgot the sequence we were doing mid-flow (details have never been my strong suit) — so I just did whatever I felt in the moment, which at times, included Child’s Pose. OH and bring water with you into class because you WILL sweat.
Best Part of Class? The music. And the lights off. Instead of feeling out-of-place or not as flexible as my classmates, I was able to relax and move to the music without fear of looking like an outside.
Do I recommend It? Yes. BUT if you are a traditional yogi OR really looking for a zen experience, the informal attitude might rub you the wrong way. My instructor kept getting my space to change the music on her phone, which was acting as the class DJ.
Deal for Newbies: Two weeks of unlimited classes for $45
Difficulty Level: 7 out of 10
Where: 161 W. 22nd Street | Chelsea
What: Belleon Body is a new gym in Chelsea that was founded by Madonna’s ex-husband, Carlos Leon, and celeb trainer Jeff Bell. Their signature, 30-minute high-intensity group class “tones the body, strengthens muscles and burns fat all in a single workout.”
My Take: Unlike Y7 and The Training Lab, the Belleon Body class was a special media class, meaning we went through a condensed version of what actual gym-goers will experience. The class was divided to allow us to try out their two signature classes: Balleon Method (cardio moves with a science-backed formula) and Primal Method (more of a yoga/Pilates-vibe inspired by animal movements). I had just run the Chicago Marathon two weeks earlier, and the Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon just two DAYS earlier, meaning I was sore and NOT ready for HIIT or sculpting moves. Everything we did, from squat jumps to “cheetah crawls” was really hard — and the “primal movements” part of class was painfully slow.
Best Part of Class: Honestly? When it was over. It was too soon for me to workout post-races.
Do I Recommend It?: This isn’t the workout for me — and not JUST because I was sore. I tend to like faster-moving classes that focus on strength versus sculpting. BUT if you are more into Pilates, barre class, or yoga, I definitely think you would enjoy it.
Deal for Newbies: N/A – Standard rate is $35/class
Difficulty Level: 8 out of 10
Where: 355 West 49th Street (TMPL Gym)
What: Imagine you’re at an IMAX movie, but instead of sitting in a fancy reclining chair with your feet up, you’re pedaling away on a spin bike. That’s THE TRIP™. The fully immersive workout experience combines a 40-minute multi-peak cycling workout with a “journey” through digitally-created worlds (think: an abandoned Pirate Ship, a winding cross country road, and outer space).
My Take: While I normally enjoy a spinning workout on its own, the interactivity of a “course” in front of me made this particular indoor cycling experience extra motivational. I felt like I actually pedaled harder on the “uphills” (or, rather, when the screen portrayed an uphill) and had a bigger incentive to push when the instructor (and the screen) called for it. I definitely got a good workout and left the class sweaty.
Best Part of Class: During the “Underwater” Experience, the screen showed a lot of sharks and orca whales that FELT very real.
Do I Recommend It?: While I don’t think I would shell out $40/class on something like this regularly, it was really fun to try and would definitely be something I would try to use to lure my non-fitness friends to a workout class.
Deal for Newbies: N/A – I think you have to join TMPL
Difficulty Level: 7 out of 10
Got an NYC-based fitness studio you recommend? Let me know in the comments!