Just about the only thing this long winter was good for was helping us catch up on our favorite TV shows while developing a healthy donut addiction. But now that spring is in the air, the day will soon come where we can put away the Canada Goose and get off the couch. Rather than joining the legions at the chain gyms that are spreading across the city like the plague, here are six fun, physical ways to enjoy the city, get back in shape, and celebrate our newfound freedom from winter’s icy claws.
If you like (aerial) yoga, try Grounded Aerial
Immersive Studios, 132 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn
Calling all urban explorers who are bored with their workouts: Grounded Aerial in Williamsburg is offering Bungee Tuesdays (5:30-7 pm, $45) and Bungee Wednesdays (2-4 pm, $50), which are “like a kids’ bouncy chair… for adults.” The bungee workout promises abs of steel, ridiculous cardio, and exploration of the mind and body through aerial play. For those looking to take it one step further, the studio has an upcoming Spring Flying Workshop that promises to “stimulate your creative juices” and “bring out your inner child.” The workshop (which the website calls “like Pilates on crack!” — we hope it’s healthier than that) is taught by studio owner Karen Fuhrman, an accomplished dancer and aerialist. Admission costs $150, and the fun is on Saturday, April 11t from 2-5 pm.
If you can erg for days, try Dragon Boating
Dragon boat racing is a team paddling sport that has grown in popularity recently. The long, narrow boats can hold anywhere from 20 to 50 paddlers who sit in two forward-facing rows. Unlike rowing, the paddle is not secured to the boat, so the total-body workout builds form and coordination. Despite (or because of?) its difficulty, it’s a tremendously fun sport. Leagues both recreational and competitive have sprung up all over the city and DCH Dragon Boat Racing is currently recruiting paddlers for all its teams (even recreational beginners).
If Zumba is your thing, try Kizomba
Pearl Studios NYC, 500 8th Ave., between 35th & 36th Sts.
Originally from Angola and influenced by several Latin and Caribbean dance styles, Kizomba is often called the “African Tango.” It can be slow and sensual (like bachata) or faster and more aggressive. Either way, if you try it you’re in for a lot of booty-shakin’. Classes at Kizomba NYC are taught in six-week cycles in both Manhattan and Queens and are $15-$20 drop-in (pricing based on level), $75 for the whole cycle, or $90 for a 10-class pass. To see what awaits you, check out this video and then try to convince your brain that you, too, can move your feet like they do. (I’m not a dancer, so my brain just says, “Wow! Look at their feet go! Proof that magic is real!”)
Or, if breakdancing is your thing, try Exile Professional Gym
27 2nd Ave., 1st Floor, East Village
So this one is a chain, but just barely. It’s the only EXPG location in America, and it’s classes are all about street dance. We’re pretty sure that’s not on the menu at Crunch. Classes include hip hop, pop, vogue, and wack, and are $20 each, or eight for $120.
If you’re a Soul Cycler, try Bike Tours
Sure, you might feel like a tourist, but what better way to celebrate spring than by escaping your candlelit, intention-filled caves and getting onto an actual bike? Tour companies abound, varying in price and destination, but here are a few to try: Get Up And Ride, Bike the Big Apple, and Central Park Bike Tours. Who knows, if you get in shape in time you could even take part in the Five Boro Bike Tour (sold out except for charity partner spots).
If your workout DVDs are gathering dust, try Instagram
So you’ve got no money for the gym, but also lack the discipline to follow those old Jillian Michaels DVDs? Give Instagram fitness challenges a shot. How are they better at motivating you than a DVD? One word: prizes. Very legit prizes. The bonus of these Instagram challenges? Their creators swing through NYC from time to time to teach classes. Here are two to try:
- Shauna Harrison (@shauna_harrison), an Under Armour-sponsored athlete, runs a fitness challenge called #SweatADay. She posts one exercise per day and to participate you just post a photo or video of yourself completing it. There’s no minimum number of reps and she always offers plenty of modifications, but be warned–she loves burpees and isn’t afraid to admit it. Weekly winners are in for a bag full of Under Armour swag (no joke).
- Kerri Verna (@beachyogagirl), a.k.a. “Beach Yoga Girl,” usually has several daily yoga challenges going at once (often with fellow instructor Kino MacGregor). Poses range from beginner to advanced, but she always offers thorough instruction and all levels are welcome. Winners are in for yoga gear, with April’s challenge sponsored by Alo Yoga.