Like mounting an HDTV on a terra-cotta warrior, Excel Yoga blends the ancient and the modern, shepherding students of all experience levels through serene yoga sessions, sultry belly-dancing lessons, and high-energy kickboxing and boot-camp fitness classes. A sense of community weaves throughout the studio, from the eco-friendly bamboo flooring to courses that bring families into the fitness fold, such as Kids Yoga and Mommy & Me Yoga.
Beyond its slate of exercise classes, workshops deepen yogis’ relationship with various aspects of yoga. The Anatomy Workshop, for example, blends discussion and practice to explore how certain poses can relieve physical disorders. Excel Yoga even cultivates its own fleet of enthusiastic instructors through intensive teacher training that outfits prospective pedagogues with the knowledge, poses, and sweat-proof grade books they need to lead classes.
A veritable mountain greets climbers inside The Rock Club, challenging them to scale its 40' high face without speaking a single word. After pulling their eyes away from the main wall, guests discover the gym's other rocky offerings, including 80 climbing stations, more than 200 individual routes, and muscle-testing bouldering cliffs. Experienced staff members with a passion for climbing roam the gym, eager to help veteran climbers reach new heights, introduce new climbers to the sport during beginners' classes, or describe the scent found at the top of the Himalayan Mountains. The Rock Club also offers lead climbing, slacklining, and movement classes as well as a kids program with a competitive climbing team, junior programs, and camps.
For sensei Vanessa Solis, martial arts teaches more than just kicks and jabs––it opens a pathway for self-improvement. Through traditional Japanese shotokan karate, practitioners balance their mental and physical selves by practicing deep, strong stances; correct posture and alignment; stretching; sparring; and respecting their opponent. Solis not only enjoys practicing shotokan karate's linear movements but also teaching them to children, adults, and families in daily classes, organized by age and favorite Bruce Lee movie. Fitness-based cardio kickboxing and core-strength training sessions round out the class roster, tightening abs and inspiring a healthy sweat.
Retro Fitness, named one of Entrepreneur's Top New Franchises in 2011, unfurls with 13,000 square feet of vintage-styled workout space that leads visitors to physical peaks in a sunny setting marked by red and yellow fitness equipment and an encouraging team of goal-oriented personal trainers. The capacious gym's sound system blasts energetic jams from the '80s and beyond as exercisers hoist weights or watch TV shows on the 17-inch screens affixed to every cardio machine. Classic flicks such as Grease and Ferris Bueller's Day Off claim screen space in the cardio theater, where guests manufacture sweat by pedaling, jogging, and rewinding hundreds of VHS tapes. Checkerboard pathways venture toward the Retro Blends juice bar with baristas who blend made-to-order fruit smoothies using whey protein and yogurt.
One of the oldest tennis-only clubs in the United States, New Rochelle Tennis Club serves up professional tennis teachings as well as a wide range of racket-friendly amenities. A one-hour private lesson assists players in perfecting shots from the forehand to the overhead smash, helping bring players' games to the next level and opponents to the brink of frustrated tears (a $100 value). After a session of spheroid slinging, players can refresh themselves at the snack bar, scrub up in the ample shower facilities, or meditate in the comfort of the TV lounge. The full-service pro shop—stocked with shirts ($20+), rackets ($100+), and hats ($22), and staffed by the club's own expert racket restringer and technician, Chris Tripodi—keeps court commandos from having to craft their own equipment from household items and stolen office supplies. Put newly acquired skills and tennis tackle to the test with a one-week trial of full-time membership, providing access to the club’s eight scrupulously maintained Har-Tru courts at any open time (a $235 value).
Good food, meet people. People, meet good food. Harlem Sweet & Savory Food Tour functions as something of a culinary matchmaker, pairing curious diners with unexpected new cuisine on interactive walking tours. During exploratory jaunts that last up to three hours, participants become acquainted with some of New York City's best eats—all without getting set up on a blind date with a cheeseburger. Harlem serves as the backdrop, and its melting pot of cultures and ethnicities provides an unpredictable mixture of different recipes and flavors. Along the route, groups sample dishes and marvel at some of Harlem's historical sites, such as the Apollo Theater, Astor Row, and the Studio Museum.