Martial Arts, SoHo Style
Like most other neighborhoods in New York, SoHo offers numerous fitness options: multidiscipline full-service gyms such as Equinox; a variety of yoga studios including Bigtoe Yoga and YogaWorks; Pilates studios such as New York Pilates; other specialty gyms including Ballet Beautiful, SLT, and SoulCycle. You will also find numerous martial-arts options in SoHo, at the gyms and dojos below.
148 Lafayette Street (between Howard and Grand Streets)
Fully equipped with cardio machines, free weights, ropes, and other gear, Five Points Academy provides high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Vinyasa yoga, and overall conditioning classes, along with open gym sessions, in addition to instruction in several martial-arts disciplines. For Muay Thai alone it offers nearly a dozen types of classes. Also known as Thai boxing or “the art of eight limbs,” Muay Thai uses elbows, knees, and shins as well as fists. At Five Points you can take basic and open-level Muay Thai classes, along with sessions focused on sparring, clinches, and the like. Classes for children as young as three are held as well. Instruction in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which emphasizes grappling and ground fighting more than kicking and striking, is offered for adults and children with varying levels of expertise—or no experience at all. Training in judo and in Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a type of Filipino blade fighting, round out its martial-arts offerings.
365 Canal Street (between Wooster Street and West Broadway)
The kung fu classes at Nabi Su focus as much on the mental as the physical aspects of the ancient martial art. Learning focus, proper breathing, and self-discipline goes hand in hand with learning striking, blocking, kicking, and the use of escrima sticks and, for those who earn a brown belt, the bo, a six-foot-long staff. Tai chi, another of the studio’s specialties, is considered an “internal” martial art, with the emphasis on breathing and movement for its own sake or for defensive purposes rather than for competition or combat, though the use of sabers and other weapons is taught as well. In addition to classes for adults and kids in a variety of levels, Nabi Su teaches adaptive kung fu and tai chi for those with physical limitations.
277 Canal Street (between Centre Street and Broadway)
UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts (MMA) competition and organization. MMA, which incorporates boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, and other disciplines, is one of the classes offered at UFC Gym; of course, you need not ever intend to compete to take classes, which promise a full-body workout. You can also take classes in kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu purely for the workout. Other sessions offered include MATRX, which incorporates TRX suspension training and MMA cardio exercises include boxing bag work and calisthenics, and Daily Ultimate Training, a proprietary HIIT workout.
217 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand Streets)
Wu Tang PCA has provided instruction in internal Chinese martial arts since 1979. In addition to beginners’ and open-level tai chi, classes include qi gong, a system of breathing, movements, and postures that is an element of most other Chinese martial arts. Another discipline taught here, ba gua zhang, incorporates circular footwork that helps practitioners evade attacks; this martial art inspired the “airbending” seen in the animated TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra.” Wu Tang PCA also provides instruction in xing yi quan, which features both slow movements and fast, tight strikes.