For those of us who need to stay in shape but find the mediocrity of New York Sports Club and cultishness of SoulCycle a bit too much to deal with, there's salvation to be found some of NYC's many boutique gyms. Here are some of our favorite places to work out, and as always, please leave yours in the comments.
STRUCTURE PERSONAL FITNESS This is actually Gothamist Food Editor/former UESer Nell Casey's former gym, which she described to me as "such a community and hands-on" and "an antithesis to the NYSC of the world!" It's easy to see why. Structure's membership plans all feature unlimited classes and include some amount of semi-private training sessions (5 on the $399/month silver plan, unlimited on the $810/month platinum plan). New training and warmup programs are introduced every month to keep your workout routine fresh, and they even offer discount massage packages. For those who like to get their fitness on the go, trainers are reachable by email to answer fitness and diet questions at all times.
Structure Personal Fitness is located at 147 East 72nd Street on the Upper East Side, (212) 988-8488; structurepersonalfitness.com
CHALK GYMS You may recognize Chalk Gyms from its recurring role as Soulstice on Broad City ("We got another pube situation in the women's locker room...Abbi, come on, can I get a little more positivity from you, please?"), but it's a much more inviting place in reality than it is on TV. $99/month (or $89 with an annual commitment) gets you full access to a slate of about 60 classes each week—including an especially strong set of studio cycling classes)—trainers who work as well with fitness junkies as they do with mildly injured and pregnant members, monthly Spotify playlists, and member discounts at several local bars, restaurants and businesses, all without any initiation fees.
Chalk Gyms is located at 193 North 9th Street in Williamsburg, (718) 486-0630; chalkgyms.com
AQUA STUDIO If FlyWheel isn't cutting it for you, have you considered trying it underwater? AQUA Studio specializes in aqua cycling-that is, spin classes in waist-deep pools. Pedaling in water provides additional resistance that more efficiently burns fat, but with less pressure on joints and better blood flow, which means less soreness and better breathing during your workout. They also offer pre- and post-natal yoga classes for new and expecting mothers, 3 days a week. Yes, we do realize this is exceptionally bougie, but what else did you expect from a list of boutique gyms? If it works, it works!
Aqua Studio is located at 78 Franklin Street in Tribeca, (212) 966-6784; aquastudiony.com
AKT INMOTION Since Anna Kaiser opened AKT in 2013, it has earned a reputation as one of the city's best and most rigorous dance-based studios. Their signature 60-minute "Happy Hour" class combines cardio, flexibility, and strength training, and all trainers are required to have NASM certification and at least 5 years of experience as professional dancers. For the dance-averse, check out the "4Play" cross-training class, and if you're looking to save some money, AKT's "Real Time Pricing" model means that classes with open spots at less popular hours are available at a discount.
AKT InMotion is located at 244 East 84th Street on the Upper East Side, (212) 858-0305, and 1182 Broadway in the Flatiron, (646) 918-7359; aktinmotion.com
AEROSPACE HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTER The brainchild of an eyepatch-wearing former champion boxer and ballet dancer, Aerospace is not a gym for the faint of heart, and in fact they describe their workout as "savage and serene." But the rigor of the exercise routines is balanced well with how approachable and encouraging everyone is there. When you visit for the first time, one of the two owners will show you around personally, and they both offer individual training sessions. Their highly-touted Aerobarre classes are designed to build lean, yet strong muscle through repetitive muscle endurance routines based on dance and boxing training methods.
Aerospace is located at 121 West 27th Street in Chelsea, (212) 929-1640; aerospacenyc.com
SYNCSTUDIO When SYNCStudio expanded to Brooklyn from Durham, North Carolina in 2013, it was one of the first gyms in the area to incorporate custom playlists into their workout routines, which center around cycling, yoga,and a sprinkling of weight classes. Co-founder Ashley Lively has described the music-oriented studio's clientele to Racked as "normal people who live normal lives and are active," and that ethos is apparent the moment you look at their themed class offerings, like an Animal Collective v. Panda Bear ride or a Live DJ ride, both held in the studio's BASSment.
SYNCStudio is located at 133 South 2nd Street in Williamsburg, (718) 438-4725; syncstudio.net/brooklyn
Y7 STUDIO Husband-wife duo Sarah and Mason Levey launched Y7 because they both wanted to like yoga, but found the slowness of most yoga classes off-putting. As a result, their gym offers a noticeably faster-paced yoga experience than most studios, with hip-hop filled vinyasa classes designed to get your heart rate up and held in candlelit 90 degree studios. Zosia Mamet also frequents their Williamsburg studio to complement to the intensity of her SoulCycle routine, whichmayexplainwhyShoshlikestotalklikethisallthetime.
Y7 Studio is located at 240 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, 430 Broome Street in SoHo, and 25 West 23rd Street in Flatiron, (646) 820-0781; y7-studio.com
SIMPLY FIT AND SIMPLY CYCLE If you live in western Queens and are looking for a uniquely fast-paced workout that doesn't force you to go to Manhattan or take the G train, these sister studios are a great part of the neighborhood. Simply Fit offers a full range of Zumba classes, various Yoga/Pilates fusion workouts, and intense muscle-building programs—while Simply Cycle's tight-knit spin classes are great if you're looking to lose weight, build muscle, strengthen your core, or just get some cardio in. As a bonus, all cloasses come with free towels and shoe rentals.
SWERVE FITNESS If you feel your workout experience could benefit from a sense of competition ("Yes, I did lose 20 pounds, but I think I need more WINNING"), SWERVE is a good bet. Their classes divide participants into competing teams, who try to push each other by accumulating points based on workout performance. The gym records individual stats as well, so you can monitor your own personal progress. And even though SWERVE is exclusively a cycling studio, their classes are designed to work out the whole body by varying rhythms and terrains, and incorporating upper body exercises.
SWERVE is located at 30 West 18th Street near Union Square, (212) 242-3330; swervefitness.com