The East Village’s Boutique Gyms
Just as the East Village’s retail culture skews toward boutiques, so does its fitness scene. Though the neighborhood does have its own Blink Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and New York Sports Clubs for those who want access to a broad array of fitness options in one facility, it also is home to specialty studios where you can practice yoga atop a surfboard, perform a high-intensity workout to the beats of a live deejay, and learn Filipino blade fighting, among other niche regimens.
12 St. Mark’s Place (between Second and Third Avenues)
More than a martial art, capoeira incorporates music and dance movements as well, making it ideal for denizens of an arts-focused neighborhood such as the East Village. Abadá-Capoeira offers weekly classes for adults and kids of all levels. The two-hour adult classes begin with a warmup, segue into drills, then lead into partner training before ending with a roda, where students form a circle and sing, play traditional instruments, and clap as other class members pair up to practice their strikes, dodges, rolls, and kicks.
130 East Seventh Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue)
Just about every fitness studio, it seems, offers some sort of Pilates classes. Avea Pilates offers nothing else. Its 55-minute classes, open to all levels, use the Reformer resistance machines; it holds 45-minute, higher-intensity Reformer Express classes as well.
266 East 10th Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue)
Body Evolutions also offers Pilates Reformer classes. It is better known, however, for its Gyrotonic Expansion System classes. Integrating aspects of gymnastics, yoga, ballet, and even swimming, Gyrotonics uses specialized equipment to provide muscle resistance and ensure proper form. Body Evolutions offers beginner and intermediate Gyrotonic classes as well as Gyrokinesis, in which exercises are performed on mats rather than on equipment.
122 Second Avenue (between East Seventh and East Eighth Streets)
Kenpo is an Asian martial art that focuses largely on self-defense. Sifu (“Teacher”) Jack F.C. Shamburger, a 10th-level black belt, originated the Chinese Hawaiian variation and founded this academy. In addition to classes in kenpo basics, sparring, and weapons, the school offers kickboxing for adults and karate for kids. Shamburger has also received praise for his free SMASH classes, walk-in self-defense classes for women that the academy has been offering for nearly 30 years.
647 East Ninth Street (between Avenues C and D)
An amalgam of weightlifting, calisthenics, jump training, and high-intensity interval training, CrossFit uses everything from free weights to resistance machines to climbing ropes in its workouts. At CrossFit East River, novices are required to start with the three hour-long classes that make up its Foundations course, to ensure they know the proper way to use the equipment and practice the moves. They can then join other studio members in the Workout of the Day, open gym, endurance training, and other sessions.
34 Avenue A (between East Second and East Third Streets)
Sei Shin Dojo teaches two forms of martial arts. American jiu jitsu, which emphasizes the defensive over the offensive, incorporates footwork and body positioning from aikido, judo, and Muay Thai as well as from other jiu jitsu variations. More offensive than defensive, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a Filipino form of blade fighting. The dojo offers adult lessons in both disciplines as well as children’s American jiu jitsu. And as a counterpoint to the martial arts, it also holds Vinyasa yoga sessions twice a week.
54 East Fourth Street (between Third Avenue and Bowery)
At Surfset you can enjoy the full-body benefits of surfing without venturing into the water. A surfboard placed atop three balls offers the sensation of instability that mimics surfing and makes the workouts even more of a challenge than if you were to perform them on a mat—though the studio does offer two mat-based classes, Shore Circuit and Shore Yoga. The five Surf classes range from an interval-based cardio and strength-training workout for newcomers to Surf Yoga to Surf Burn, which includes high-intensity interval training.
130 East 12th Street (between Third and Fourth Avenues)
If you want a live deejay to provide the soundtrack for your HIIT workout, Switch is for you. The gym itself is referred to as a “playground”; if you are taking a class alone, you will be given a partner so that you can spur each other on; high-fives after the class are definitely encouraged. In short, Switch is the sort of studio that you will either love or loathe.
250 East Houston Street (between Avenues A and B)
WeFlowHard Vinyasa yoga is the flagship class of Y7. The hour-long sessions take place by candlelight in a studio heated to 80-90 degrees and are choreographed to hip-hop, rock, rap, and pop music. Hip-hop-only classes are also offered, as are 50-minute WeFlowHard Express classes, 60-minute Slow Burn sessions, and 75-minute Restore sessions that follow up the workout with postures to revitalize body and soul.