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.
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.
Change can be terrifying, but at The Exercise Studio, owner Millie Miraglia and her team of seven instructors help students of all levels face their fears as they transform their bodies with classes that combine the principles of yoga with effective cardio workouts. The Brooklyn-based studio, with a classroom on each of its two floors, has been opened for almost three decades and offers women-only Zumba and fitness sessions—including total-body workouts and body toning—and Hatha and Vinyasa-style yoga classes are open to both women and men. Offering small classes with one-on-one instruction, the Exercise Studio even goes one step further to ensure students learn how to lead healthy lives by providing regular workshops and courses that have included classes on restorative yoga and how to balance one's chakra using just a paper clip and a stick of gum.
As a cancer survivor, Millie knows firsthand how negative emotions can impact the healing process, which is why she created The Exercise Studio's Pathways to Healing. The noninvasive stress-management program is designed to help clients bring balance back to their mind and body by using a blend of restorative yoga, meditation, and reiki modalities.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
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.