Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors—formerly known as Outdoor Bound—turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts—each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT—temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
Crunch finds the fun in fitness with its no-judgment, open-minded approach to exercise. With a one-month membership, clients get unlimited access to the gym and its state-of-the-art facilities. Tap into the timeless power of ancient lever, pulley, and treadmill technologies to tone muscles and trim mass, or exert dominance over weak-willed weights with prop-assisted lifts and lunges. The one-month membership also grants users admittance to Crunch's collection of wildly imaginative classes, split up into three categories—Action Sports, Chill Outs, and Dance Rhythms. Strap on a pair of Kangoo Jumps for the BOING with Kangoo class, wrap yourself in the folds of fitness-friendly fabric for AntiGravity Yoga Wings, or peel off skirts of stress in Crunch's pole-dancing class, among many more. Crunch even scores clients' sweat-inducing sessions with live DJs.
"A tired dog is a good dog," says Angi Aramburu, fitness trainer and mastermind behind Go Fetch Run, a unique fitness program where man's best friend becomes man's best exercise partner. The concept, which dawned on Ms. Aramburu after her successful stint instructing the parent-baby workout class Stroller Strides, shortens the leash between pet and owner in a series of intense exercises at scenic Prospect Park. In boot camps set at twilight and dusk, pairs form even tighter bonds in intense total-body conditioning exercises that take advantage of two- and four-legged dynamics. In strength training, agility, core work, and cardio exercises, panting partners take to the park's hills in training sessions that improve the temperament of both species with positive reinforcement. Like a Westminster Dog Show crossbred with the X-Games, the workouts also feature a "Down and Dirty Obstacle Course" where dog-owner teams slalom across pylons, hop rope ladders, crawl through tunnels, and jump through hoops. For those who shy from boot-camp intensity, Go Fetch Run also offers a weekly run/walk with the Woof Pack, which is broken into groups depending on the pair's desired speed.
Parkour, a discipline and art form of movement and exercise, has a surprisingly simple objective: travel between two points as efficiently as possible. However, spectacular feats spring from that goal. Parkour movements comprise a calorie-torching high-octane mix of swinging, leaping, crawling, flipping, and running.
At Gym Park Parkour, the instructors teach this "urban gymnastics" to students ages 8 and up of all skill levels. In their indoor training facility—which is chock full of padded equipment—they lead them in moves derived from free-running, tumbling, and gymnastics, encouraging free, confident movements that make you feel like an agile alley cat. As students execute the gravity-defying maneuvers, they simultaneously build their strength, speed, balance, and spacial awareness, which can help you become a super-famous ninja. The Parkour community through its workouts also strives to be a place where children and adults can find a place to be encouraged and accepted.
Relaxing and working out don't usually go hand-in-hand, but things aren't usual at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. As soon as visitors set foot in the Mind Body Studio, they're set at ease by a modern lounge area, which boasts sleek bamboo floors, exposed brick walls, and sprigs of verdant plants. Inside the workout space, classes such as yoga and the barre method emphasize the mind-body connection. The Nalini Method classes also push students toward inner harmony with a combination of Pilates, aerobics, barre work, and yoga, helping students de-stress while toning limbs and burning calories without ever tossing any cheesecakes into open flames.
The nonprofit Asphalt Green keeps children, teens, and adults in shape with an array of fitness, swim, and sports activities and programs. Members enjoy full access to a 15,000-square-foot duplex fitness center lined with Precor and Technogym equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals with built-in TV screens. In the gym's weightlifting area, patrons can take a breather between reps as they gaze at picturesque views from the gym’s adjoining roof deck. Swimmers of all abilities glide through the 50-meter Olympic-sized pool, once home to Olympic bronze medalist Lia Neal and currently the home of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Those opting for fitness classes can choose from 80 different sessions weekly—from Zumba and Pilates to martial arts to swimming. The gym also offers training programs and seminars for triathletes, a variety of community outreach programs including adaptive swim for veterans, and kid-focused summer and sport camps to keep young ones from making bad decisions, such as using chewing gum to plug up holes in dams. Patrons can also take advantage of the center’s babysitting services, which are open to children ages 6 months to 6 years.