Williamsburg’s independent nature is reflected in the number of neighborhood gyms and fitness studios that are not part of a franchise but can be found only here. These facilities range from highly specialized to broad in scope, encompassing old-school and New Age disciplines alike.
355 Bedford Avenue (between South Fourth and South Fifth Streets)
Pilates is the sole focus of April Nicole Studios. Image: Mateus Lunardi Dutra/Flickr
At this sunny, compact studio, Pilates is the specialty—and indeed, the only discipline available. Group classes on the weekends include those for all levels and one for beginners that uses leg and arm springs along with mats. Private and two-person sessions with one of the studio’s half-dozen trainers, including founder April Silverman, are available throughout the week.
605 Manhattan Avenue (between Driggs and Nassau Avenues)
A self-described healing center, Awakening provides a variety of Pilates and yoga classes, including Vinyasa-style and classic Hatha yoga for all levels and a class that incorporates Reiki hands-on healing and aromatherapy. The 3,500-square-foot studio offers one-day workshops too. Recent sessions included Cacao Journeys, which entailed drinking a “ceremonial-grade” cacao paste and listening to specially chosen music to gain insights and promote positivity, and Breath-Centered Yoga. Private yoga classes are available, as are a variety of massages and other healing sessions such as Aura and Chakra Cleansing and Shamanic Reiki.
Eight Berry Street (between North 13th and North 14th Streets)
Located on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the Brooklyn Athletic Club includes a 3,600-square-foot training floor, a studio space for yoga classes, a rooftop deck where classes are sometimes held on clement days, and two Endless Pools, petite swimming pools with adjustable currents that give users the feeling of swimming in a lap pool. Among the classes offered are yoga, Pilates, high-intensity interval training, and Olympic weightlifting. After a workout, you can treat yourself to a full-spectrum infrared sauna.
193 North Ninth Street (between Driggs and Bedford Avenues)
Chalk Gyms is ideal for those who tend to get bored with their workout: It offers dozens of classes. These include Boxing 101; Vinyasa yoga; Express 30 Bootcamp, which uses weights for endurance and strength training; Kettle Bell Fusion, a medley of aerobics, calisthenics, and endurance exercises; and Old School Step. The gym also creates monthly playlists to serve as the soundtrack for sessions on the machines or with the free weights.
892 Lorimer Street (between Driggs and Nassau Avenues)
Given that it has “hard boiled” in its name, one might be surprised that this studio resembles a cheery apartment with hardwood floors, bright abstract paintings on white walls, and potted plants in front of large windows. In addition to personal training incorporating strength, resistance, and mobility work, Hard Boiled Holistics offers Daily Bread, a class that makes use of kettle bells, medicine balls, barbells, and Bulgarian training bags along with stretches and calisthenics. Its Movement As Medicine workshops, the brainchild of founder Riki Bryan and his staff, entail a series of squats, pull-ups, and other moves designed to increase mobility without the use of equipment.
336 Grand Street (between Marcy Avenue and Havemeyer Street)
The Living Room does look a bit like a living room, albeit one that replaced a sofa with free weights and a coffee table with Swiss balls. Classes are limited to five people, to ensure that each receives personal attention. Founder Erika Robertiello, whose credentials include a master’s in psychology, designed each class to improve posture and movement, which in turn will improve psychological health. Classes include Smooth Operator, which uses gliding discs to exercise all muscle groups; Coredio, which targets the abs; and Balanced Body, designed to stretch tight and overworked muscles while improving balance. Private training is also available, and the studio recently introduced a weekly movement session for kids as well.
449 Keap Street (between Hope and Ainslee Streets)
Yoga meets ballet at this specialty studio, which opened in August 2016. The flagship class incorporates isometric barre exercises with Vinyasa movements and “chakra activation” so that you receive a physical workout while bolstering your Shakti, or feminine creative energy. Other classes include Kundalini yoga and Blissflow, which encompasses slow yoga movements and candlelit mediation. Private coaching sessions on ayurvedic nutrition and chakra balancing are also available, as is holistic counseling.
107 South Sixth Street (between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street)
Cardio and endurance machines, boxing and spin rooms, a yoga studio, a steam room, a sauna: Soma Williamsburg has all of the above. You can opt to work out on your own, with a personal trainer, or in the numerous classes. In addition to Zumba, Pilates, and Vinyasa and Kundalina yoga, class options include TRX suspension training, cycling, and the pithily named Butts and Gutts.
51 North First Street (between Wythe and Kent Avenues)
Streb has classes for kids as well as adults. Image: Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr
Streb began in 1985 as a dance company, Streb Extreme Action, incorporating acrobatics, bungee-jumping, and trapeze work into its performances. The troupe still performs, but now Streb also offers classes for adults taught by company members. The signature class, PopAction, brings together dance, boxing and other athletics, and even rodeo and circus moves, along with a fair amount of “flying” off trusses. Other adult classes include trampoline, acrobatics, and parkour; classes for kids as young as 18 months are offered too. And if you have long harbored fantasies of running off to join the circus, you might want to enroll in classes at the España Streb Trapeze Academy.
171 Meeker Avenue (between North Seventh and North Eighth Streets)
Yes, this studio offers instruction in a variety of martial arts, but you will not find your usual karate or taekwondo here. Among the philosophies and techniques taught are jeet kune do, founded by Bruce Lee to achieve maximum impact and damage as efficiently as possible. Also offered are krav maga, Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing or “the art of eight limbs”), Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and two types of Filipino martial arts—one without weapons and the other with. There are also Little Dragons classes, which teach kids a mix of martial arts along with a healthy dose of discipline.
240 Wythe Avenue (between North Third and North Fourth Streets)
The founders of Warrior Fitness Boot Camp based their signature one-hour class on the Marine Corps training program, incorporating, among other elements, free weights, calisthenics, high-intensity interval training, and an obstacle course. And when we say “signature course,” we mean only course: The studio offers sessions for adults and half-hour classes for kids. Fortunately the workout itself is a varied one, and a multitude of classes are held throughout the week.
20 Broadway #108 (between Wythe and Kent Avenues)
If you like your yoga and Pilates hot, YO BK is the studio for you. Bikram yoga—60- and 90-minute classes—make up much of the schedule, and like all other sessions, they are held in a studio with a specific (hot) temperature and humidity level. For the Inferno Hot Pilates and Baptiste Power Yoga (a more meditative alternative to Bikram), the studio is a balmy (or some might say, steamy) 95 degrees.