New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
After earning a 10th-degree black belt and retiring from life as a United States Secret Service operative, Grandmaster Dr. David Fury set out to create his own brand of fighting style. Informed by his professional background and competitive-fighting experience, the Fury system teaches close quarters, hand-to-hand combat and tactics. Students learn hard and fast striking moves intended to defuse a single or multiple attackers, as well as weapons-based fighting skills. Held seven days a week, classes can help students transform common household items into weapon—including an old magazine, kitchen utensils, or your coupon book for free hugs.
The hiss and clank of weight machines from manufacturers such as Cybex and Precor blend with the whir of recumbent cycles and treadmills to form the perpetual soundtrack at each of Dolphin Fitness Clubs’ 24-hour locations. To augment individual exercise regimens, nationally certified staffers teach aerobic classes throughout the week, with offerings ranging from classic step classes to low-impact yoga and pillow-fighting lessons.
When Drita D'Avanzo, a cast member of VH1’s Mob Wives, enlisted for one-on-one training at Evolution Boxing, she was fresh off a rooftop brawl. Hoping to unleash her simmering anger, she teamed up with Anthony, a boxing instructor. "I've got to turn over a new leaf," she explained on the show, "I'm taking it from the rooftop to the ring." As she threw punches, she began to experience release—and control. Upon leaving, she concluded, "Now I don't have to hit anybody."
D'Avanzo successfully channeled her aggression into an appropriate outlet. In doing so, she proved Evolution Boxing's commitment to serving individual needs, whether through group or personal instruction. Instructors classify boxers according to experience and tailor all subsequent instruction to drive toward goals. They equip children for playground brawls with anti-bullying classes, help women defend against attackers with self-defense classes, and help everyday working professionals knock out lunch thieves with the Blue Collar program.
When Jaine Gitelman built her studio from the ground up, she made a conscious decision to ban mirrors from the practice room. Without them, she reasoned, her students would be less likely to distract themselves by comparing their progress to that of others. The two tenets embodied in that rationale—concentration and non-competition—are central to Hot Spot Yoga. In addition to banishing mirrors in her yoga rooms, she flouts traditional hierarchy in favor of Vinyasa classes that remain open to all levels. “There’s no such thing as beginner, intermediate, and advanced in yoga,” Gitelman explains. To her, the key is to modify poses according to each student’s comfort and abilities.
Though the studio’s classes may be welcoming, they’re still challenging. Up to 100 degrees of heat force students to test their physical limits as instructors flow swiftly through sustained poses. With hundreds of Vinyasa poses to choose from, instructors make sure to never repeat and to take suggestions from students who wish to experiment with a new pose. They’re also happy to just let students sit and meditate on the view from the studio’s window, which looks out on distant skyscrapers and a canal filled with bathing Godzillas.
Since 1952, this nonsectarian Jewish community center has entertained, strengthened, and educated community members with enriching programs and recreational services. Around 780 people a day lift weights, splash in the pool, or attend book readings. Children and teens absorb knowledge about scholastics, cooking, crafts, and drama during after-school programs and summer camps, while adults talk literature in book clubs, stretch out during yoga sessions, or unwind by meditating in a room filled with stacks of already-completed taxes. Seniors, meanwhile, can play a round of billiards or backgammon in a social club, learn basic computer skills, or take free, arthritis-friendly aerobics classes. The dedicated staff make a point of welcoming all community members by speaking Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, Spanish, and Upper East Side.
The fitness instructors at Exotic Curves Pole Fitness Studio create design and lead sultry pole-dance classes in an effort to boost good health, chisel strong physiques, and bolster self-confidence. Owner and pole instructor Stephanie Mancuso, a dancer since age 7, forged the swirl-inducing dance studio close to her hometown, fusing her love for dancing, her enthusiasm for helping others, and her passion for vintage fireman poles. Utilizing knowledge of a variety of dance techniques—such as Zumba, belly dancing, and chair dancing—the studio’s staff provides a number of steamy outlets to foster streamlined silhouettes and release pent-up energy. Stephanie and her staff also host special events, such as bachelorette parties for brides-to-be and retirement shindigs for nostalgic polecats.