Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo have extensive experience in Bikram yoga. Donna, a former Broadway performer, noticed that actors, musicians, and stagehands had little space to stretch and warm up before their performances. In turn, she chose the theater district for her flagship BIkram Yoga studio built in 1998, when Bikram was just gaining in popularity. The first Bikram Yoga NYC location soon blossomed into seven yoga rooms spread across four locations, and all are covered in Flotex anti-microbial flooring. This waterproof flooring protects against germs more effectively than than wood floors or cooties shots. Hygiene is important when practicing Bikram yoga, as the increased temperatures cause participants to work up a healthy sweat.
On the flipside, Jennifer has an athletic background, with experience in everything from marathons to soccer and tennis. She also worked as the communications director for IMG—a powerful force in the world of sports marketing. Together, Rubin and Lobo produced the very first Yoga Asana Championship in New York. They continue to do so each year while leading a team of more than 70 certified instructors who host nearly 300 classes each week, making it convenient for clients to fit sessions in to busy schedules.
Harlem Yoga Studio makes the ancient art accessible to yogis of all kinds. In its environment of relaxing deep breathing and playful stretches, which has received acclaim for its unique classes, moms and dads work through mountain poses with their kids during family sessions, and plus-sized patrons build flexibility in full-figured yoga.
Led by New York native and doula Laurel Katz-Bohen and former soccer player Erica Barth, the impassioned instructors spread their yogic teachings during studio sessions. Light floods the bamboo-floored space as toddlers caper across tiny yoga mats or prenatal yogis learn belly-dancing with instructors drifting about to offer individualized adjustments and challenging Full House trivia questions in the various classes.
Skilled yogis drop into Vinyasa Flow sessions, where students explore smoothly cascading transitions and gale-strength exhalations, incorporating dynamic strengthening poses into the style's assorted bends and twists. Workshops and outreach programs bring yoga practices into the community, some focusing on a specific style and others examining how to use yoga to help classmakes and colleagues work more peacefully and effectively together.
Zack’s Dance Loft’s founder draws inspiration from the Latin and ballroom dance styles popular in the Big Apple. Back when he worked as a financial analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Zack began teaching Latin dance at the company. Now that he’s founded his own business replete with a spacious studio sporting oversize mirrors on the walls and a floating dance hardwood floor, Zack and his staff train clientele in salsa, wedding dance, pole dance, and more.
Happy hour classes begin with an open bar and provide an hour of dance instruction in salsa, swing, tango, or other styles. The sessions conclude with socializing and drinks, much like ballet recitals or successful heart surgeries. Throughout each workshop, Zack cultivates a casual atmosphere. In 2006, he told New York magazine he often makes friends with his students, and the magazine went on to declare that his “private lessons are as technically sound as anyone’s—and way looser and more fun.”
Husband-and-wife team and Prana Power Yoga cofounders Philippe and Taylor Wells foster an environment in which clients can explore holistic wellness through yoga, intensive workshops, and events. Instructors at each heated studio locations roll out the welcome yoga mats, encouraging students of all interests and skill levels, from mothers-to-be to veteran sun saluters, to build strong bodies and peaceful minds in a judgment-free environment. During athletic Vinyasa-style yoga classes, certified instructors crank up temperatures as high as 99 degrees before taking mat mavens through a sequence of sweaty postures linked with mindful breathing exercises designed to boost lung capacity to Sting-like levels. Meanwhile, visitors in search of a transformative experience can attend one of the studio's workshops or events, which range from juice cleanses to destination yoga retreats in Nayarit, Mexico.
Since its founding 15 years ago, Synergy Fitness has advocated for wholesome lifestyle changes through rounded programs and guidance. Rather than setting their members adrift in a sea of befuddling equipment, their nationally certified lifestyle coaches equip them with the planning tools to forge healthy habits both during and beyond workouts. Their advice can cover exercise, nutrition, and endurance, emphasizing the importance of variety in any health regimen. They keep abreast of the abreast of the fitness world's most recent developments with mandatory classes in their areas of specialization—which include diet, yoga, and MMA.
On the gym floor, machines from Hammer Strength and Life Fitness whir along with limbs, and individual television screens on some machines threaten patrons with footage of their grade-school choir solos if they don't keep jogging. Group fitness classes at certain locations take advantage of indoor cycles and boot-camp drills to condition physiques, and MMA programs tutor muay thai, kickboxing, and jujitsu.
Instructors lead muay thai, jujitsu, boxing, and wrestling classes, during which they challenge students in old-school and modern workouts, where a right jab to the jaw sends a mist of perspiration across the blue boxing ring before Joe Louis's eyes. His looming visage peers down at sparring athletes from the walls covered in old flyers, magazine cutouts, and posters recalling the sport's storied history at Church Street Boxing Gym. Legends including Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis have trained here, but the staff, which boasts experience in more than 300 combined fights, guides men, women, and children of all skill levels in the combat arts.
The children's martial arts program, run by Pouncing Tigers, teaches respect and discipline with a focus on fun. On the wrestling mat, they demonstrate gripping an opponent in a headlock, and those training for boxing or muay thai skip rope and pummel heavy bags until they agree to stop throwing fights. Athletes can attend classes to prepare for serious combat competition or to get in shape with exercises designed to sculpt the whole body.