The early morning sun cascades off the Hudson River, sending beams of dawn dancing across the wooden dock where students flow through Vinyasa-style poses in tandem with the rhythmic sound of waves. Against this scenic backdrop accented by the silhouettes of distant skyscrapers, certified instructors demonstrate postures as the class makes its way through the tapestry of asanas. This is how most mornings begin at Casa Vinyasa Yoga, setting the tone of calm and serenity that carries throughout the day. The studio, which boasts panoramic views of New York City in the colder months and dock-top classes in the spring and summer, houses a collection of passionate instructors who collectively put their 200–500 hours of training to use leading classes for students of all fitness levels. Each of these teachers found yoga in their own way, some turning to it in the midst of a lonely marriage, others using it to find sanctuary from unfulfilling corporate jobs or lackluster games of Twister. They channel their distinctive passion for the practice in each of invigorating classes, which range from yoga fundamentals to more rigorous sessions such as Forrest Yoga that aims to build core strength.
One Yoga & Wellness Center's pliable instructors lead yogis of all skill levels through relaxing and modifiable asanas. During gentle-yoga sessions, students practice light stretching and engage in guided meditation at a pace that allows beginners to become familiar with fundamental relaxation techniques. Hatha yoga classes find body twisters holding poses for longer periods so as not to ruin the work of the in-studio daguerreotype portraitist. A style of yoga that emphasizes flow from one pose to another, Vinyasa teaches breathing techniques and asanas that can be combined endlessly to create adaptable routines. Instructors teach three levels of Vinyasa classes, from a slower-paced, beginner-friendly session to a fast-moving flow taught in a heated room. Prenatal yoga ensures even expectant mothers find serenity and provides babies an early leg up on preschool limbo contests.
One can look behind every stationary bike or beneath each treadmill, and never come across a man at American Woman Fitness Center. They will, however, find a swimming pool, rows of cardio machines, and a studio that hosts more than 50 fitness classes. Because the health club only admits women at its two locations, gals can feel more comfortable and confident as they break a sweat on elliptical machines and weight-training equipment.
The all-female staff leads a slew of group fitness classes, including CrossFit, Corebar training, Zumba, and yoga classes, some of which take place in the swimming pool and can result in highly desirable dolphin abs. In addition to classes, they offer personal-training sessions along with weight-loss and nutritional counseling tailored to female physiques. While ladies are working out, they can rest assured that their wee ones are looked after, as the staff also provides childcare services.
At Coolhotyoga, the instructors teach yoga classes in both hot and cool rooms, of course, but they do much more to help their clients build muscle and burn fat. They also defy science in their anti-gravity yoga series, in which guests strike yoga poses in midair in ceiling-suspended hammocks that support the body while coaxing deeper stretches. On the cardio end of things, they offer both Piloxing—a blend of Pilates and boxing—and booty barre classes—which combine ballet's core-strengthening exercises with light weightlifting, such as picking up the nearest ballerina.
In addition to teaching youths and adults to punch and kick properly, Rockaway Fight Center imparts self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect. Instructors specialize in Israeli combat tactics including knife fighting, ground survival, and HaganaH, a full-contact form of self-defense that incorporates krav maga and hisardut. The center also offers combat fitness classes, which condition bodies using HaganaH fighting techniques, as well as Zumba classes, which eschew combat in favor of pure calorie burning. For an East Asian approach, the center’s Brazilian jiu jitsu lessons teach students to overpower a larger attacker or a declawed grizzle bear using chokes and holds, while taekwondo classes focus primarily on striking and thrusting with kicks and punches.
At Duncan Martial Arts, instructor Gregory Duncan carries on his father’s legacy by teaching the Way of the Winds system. The first martial artists to bring ninjutsu to the United States, Gregory’s father, Professor Ronald Duncan, created a system that emphasizes rapid-fire striking patterns, evasive movements, and joint locking. Implementing elements of traditional taijutsu and jujitsu, the Way of the Winds system also includes education in traditional weaponry, such as sais, tonfa, han-bo, nunchakus, and more. Classes help build self-confidence and mental focus as students learn control over their bodies and responses to high-stress situations, such as a stranger approaching them in a dark alley and asking them to name all the vice presidents in alphabetical order. To expand upon the influences of Eastern fitness traditions, the center also offers yoga classes designed to center the mind and strengthen the body.