Pilates and yoga seem to be the workouts of choice in Gramercy, judging by the number of studios and classes. If it is traditional Vinyasa yoga and Pilates classes you want, you can find them at the neighborhood’s multi-activity gyms: New York Health & Racquet Club (21st Street and Park Avenue South), 22nd Street Synergy Fitness Club (321 East 22nd Street, between First and Second Avenues), and New York Sports Clubs (Irving Place and 15th Street; 34 West 14th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). But the area is also home to several smaller studios that specialize in what might be called mindful movement, with enough intriguing variations to satisfy even the most jaded practitioner.
112 East 23rd Street (between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South)
This second-floor studio is named after a yoga sequence developed in 1994 by Jhon Tamayo. In keeping with Vinyasa-style yoga, the sequence flows from one asana, or posture, to the next, incorporating standing, balancing, and sitting poses, forward and back bends, spinal twists, and inversions. The sequence is modified to accommodate students’ varying levels of experience. In addition to the Atmananda sequence, the studio offers more-traditional Vinyasa classes, including lunchtime sessions; core- and sculpt-focused classes; restorative yoga, which focuses on deep breathing and holding simple poses for extended periods of time as a way of relaxing mind and body; and prenatal yoga.
39 East 20th Street (between Park Avenue South and Fifth Avenue)
Pilates training on reformer machines. Image: c3lsius_bb/Flickr
Novices and longtime Pilates practitioners alike will find classes here to suit their needs. The Beginner Reformer/Tower classes introduce newbies not only to the basic movement principles but also to the reformer and tower machines. More-advanced classes incorporate other equipment, such as the spine corrector and the jump board. Specialty classes include the high-intensity Butt Camp, prenatal sessions, and Pilates for Text Necks, designed to combat the damage done to the neck, shoulder, and spine that can result from spending hours hunched over mobile devices. Private sessions are available as well.
873 Broadway (at 18th Street)
AcroYoga. Image: Matt Baume/Flickr
“Something old, something new” could be the motto of this studio. It offers classic Vinyasa and restorative yoga, along with Forrest yoga, developed in the 1980s to emphasize breathing, core work, and improving the connection between mind and body. But it also provides classes that will appeal to more-adventurous sorts. If you have ever wanted to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, try aerial yoga, which uses silk hammocks to provide a sense of flight. AcroYoga, as its name suggests, combines yoga and acrobatics; bungee yoga incorporates bungee cords for a feeling of weightlessness; Circus Conditioning welcomes beginners and professional performers alike. Kids classes focus on aerial and circus exercises. Private sessions are available as well.
190 Third Avenue (between 17th and 18th Streets)
Despite being housed in the landmark Scheffel Hall building, a 19th-century brownstone with a stained-glass skylight and wood-paneled walls, this studio features state-of-the-art machines, not only for Pilates but also for Gyrotonic sessions, designed to improve agility and strength. A specialty of the studio is Alchemy in Movement, created by Sal Anthony himself, which incorporates meditation and contemplation into a system of movement. You can also enroll in private sessions in three styles of yoga: Vinyasa; Hatha, a slower-paced practice; and Ashtanga, which emphasizes precision and breathing. Complementing all this mindful movement are a variety of massage treatments, including Swedish, shiatsu, and Thai.