After trying tons of exercise classes in New York City and Brooklyn, here are our top 10:
1. Core Fusion Barre at Exhale Spa
Core Fusion Barre is a high-energy, straightforward barre class, but don’t expect sweat-free experience. The workout starts with a bit of cardio warmup, followed by arms with light weights, thighs at the barre, gluts, then abs. You get a nice stretch between each section, but your muscles will still burn and the barre work is especially killer. The instructors are upbeat and constantly correcting technique, which is much appreciated. Perhaps most importantly, the space doubles as a fancy spa with amazing products. For this ClassPasser, it’s a treat each week to trek up to Central Park a schvitz in the sauna before work.
2. Megaformer at Brooklyn Bodyburn
Brooklyn Bodyburn has a reputation as the “hardest class on Classpass,” which is exactly how I describe it to Bodyburn virgins. You will sweat, you will burn, you will think you can’t finish. Brooklyn Bodyburn is based on the Lagree Method, which has also given rise to the SLT and Solidcore workouts. There are two main sections of the 50-minute class: legs and arms, with abs and obliques peppered throughout. Marvelous. You’re working with varying resistance levels on a machine called the megaformer, which is similar to a Pilates reformer in that there is a carriage and springs. I do a lot of reformer classes, though, and can guarantee you I have never sweat the way I do in Bodyburn! Exercises like the Dancing Bear and Reverse Lizard are done for timed intervals (of, like, 3 minutes each. ouch.) that you think will never end. And when you think the instructor is going to give you a break, she’s actually about to have you do a hold. Not only is this a hard class physically, it’s also hard to get into! Bodyburn is definitely one of the classes you have to snatch up at the stroke of noon. Even still, I usually end up in the 6:30am class wondering why I’m awake. But I’ll always be back, because it’s the best/hardest/fiercest class on ClassPass.
3. Vinyasa Yoga at Y7 Studio
The ambiance in a Y7 class is unbeatable. It’s not a hot yoga class, but the room is gently heated. There is no artificial light- only candles that are strategically snuffed throughout the class. The sound system is amazing and it pumps the most perfect music through the studio. They somehow have managed to mix traditional yoga tunes with hip hop and the results are heavenly. If heaven is Andre 3000 in crow pose. And it is. The Vinyasa class works up to a self-guided practice, which is nerve-wrecking but fun, and the instructors really get into your head with meditations on setting goals etc. A Y7 class is often like a sweaty therapy session. Plus, with a new partnership and location with Monster Studio in SoHo, Y7 is a dream come true!
4. Yoga Nidra Deep Healing Relaxation at Dharma Yoga Center
Let’s face it, I’m a ClassPass Addict. But that doesn’t mean my poor body doesn’t need a healing day of rest every once in a while. Enter: Yoga Nidra at Dharma Yoga Center in Flatiron. Don’t expect to burn any calories in this class, but do expect to experience deep relaxation led by the Dharma Center’s resident guru, Dharma Mittra Mittra. You basically lay on your back, covered in blankets (BYO or borrow one of the studio’s), while Dharma Mittra Mittra leads the class through a guided, deep relaxation. He has a beautiful sense of humor, and you’ll leave feeling refreshed! The perfect class for a “rest day.”
5. Fly45 at Flywheel
I know people who subscribe to ClassPass just for the Flywheel classes, and there’s a reason these sweaty spin sessions are so popular. The studio offers lots of great amenities, the class is dark and intense with great music, and you get a fantastic workout in 45 minutes. Plus, there’s a slightly competitive nature to the class, with computers on each bike measuring your RPMs and power. Every cycler has different tastes in music and teaching style, so take a few classes, find your favorite instructors. Mine are definitely Grant, Leah & Clinton.
6. Sweat, Stretch, Relax at Area Yoga
Narisara Vanichanan teaches this perfectly constructed hour-long yoga class on Wednesday nights at Area Yoga. While you shouldn’t expect the most rigorous yoga class, it really is a solid hour of yoga in a beautiful Brooklyn Heights studio20 minutes of a powerful Vinyasa flow, 20 minutes of a Yoga Nidra-esque, restorative stretch session, followed by a 20 minute Savasana.
7. Advanced Reformer at New York Pilates
New York Pilates is a gem of a basement-level pilates studio in the West Village. They’ve managed to make an underground room feel naturally bright, well-lit, and inviting, which is nothing short of a miracle. Classes at New York Pilates range from Restorative to Beginner/Slow to Open Level to Advanced. I recommend taking Jamie Ehrlich’s Advanced classes, which are tough but still provide plenty of stretching and hip-openers.
8. Mixed Barre at Physique 57
Physique 57 is a mainstay in New York barre scene- the studio is amazing and clean, each class is well-choreographed, and the instructors offer plenty of corrections and adjustments. While you may work up a glisten, don’t expect to sweat like crazy in these classes. You’ll need to complete a few Beginner classes before moving on to the Mixed or Advanced level sessions.
9. Anything Layla Luciano teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp
Barry’s Bootcamp claims you’ll burn between 700-1000 calories and I believe it. Barry’s Bootcamp is a cardio-rich hour consisting of 30 minutes of treadmill intervals and 30 minutes of floor exercises. Different instructors will divide this in different ways (ie. 15 minute or 10 minute intervals). The treadmill is pretty intense- think insane inclines and pushing yourself to a serious run. The floor workout consists of straightforward HIIT exercises. In my opinion, the quality of a Barry’s class depends on the instructor and the location. Because the floor and treadmill is happening at the same time, so it puts a ton of pressure on the instructor to be on point and keeping the count correct. If you can, I recommend a class with Layla Luciano in NoHo. She is so on top of it, inspiring, vocal, etc. Plus, she’s super hot. The workout is set to loud music, tons of mirrors, and red lights- basically, everyone looks like they’re permanently insta-filtered in Hefe. Bottom Line: DO IT!
10. Barre at Xtend Barre
Nationally franchised Xtend Barre has found it’s New York home in a bright, Brooklyn Heights studio that boasts three classrooms (although I’ve only seen the one on the second floor, overlooking Remsen street). This is not a barre class that you can do on your lunch break without breaking a sweat. The actual workout incorporates a lot of mat pilates moves, and it’s definitely a cardio class. The warmup is challenging, followed by arms with light weights, then mat and barre work. The leg work on the mat burns in a great way, and abs are always emphasized. I recommend a class with Amanda Jenny, who is perky (per usual for a barre-tender) but also pushes you not to give up.
Which classes or studios would be in your top 10, NYC? Let me know in the comments!