In addition to multipurpose gyms with the usual machines and classes, Chelsea is home to fitness centers that are hardly run of the (tread)mill. These include specialized studios that focus on one particular sport or discipline as well as centers with an eclectic range of equipment and classes.
127 West 27th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
You will not find stationary bikes or resistance machines at this sleekly designed 6,000-square-foot gym. In fact, you will not find any machines at all. AeroSpace prides itself on being the city’s first “machine free” fitness center. Founded by former professional ballet dancer Leila Fazel, who helped create the spas at Ian Schrager’s hotels, and former number-one world middleweight contender Michael Olajide Jr., the gym offers classes based on body movement. These include shadow boxing; AeroBarre, which incorporates exercises from both boxing and ballet; and sessions that incorporate jumping rope. The two-story facility includes a boxing ring and full-circuit boxing equipment for workouts at your leisure.
Rebound boots give Crunch’s Boing! class its name. Image: Marco Verch/Flickr
Both Chelsea locations are Crunch “Signature” clubs, with niceties such as sauna and steam rooms and Bliss Spa toiletries. And both offer a gamut of machines, from bikes to suspension trainers, as well as personal trainers. What sets Crunch apart from myriad other gyms, however, is its unexpected class offerings. At 19th Street these include Boing!, a cardio workout while wearing Kangoo Jumps rebound boots; Bungee Flight: Adrenaline Rush and Lyra, both of which are great for wannabe aerialists; Pound, in which you use weighted drumsticks to work up a sweat while indulging in your rock-drummer fantasies; and Surfset and Sand, which incorporates the RipSurfer X machine, designed to replicate the feel of surfing. The 23rd Street locale offers several yoga variations, including Yoga Unplugged, complete with live acoustic music, and Power Yoga; Buti, a high-intensity workout incorporating African tribal dance, hip-hop, and yoga moves; and Chisel, a muscle-sculpting session that entails weights and calisthenics.
149 West 27th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
If “Jack of all trades, master of none” is your adage, you will appreciate this gym, which focuses exclusively on, you guessed it, kickboxing. Classes begin with warm-up exercises and stretches before hitting the punching bag (in complimentary new gloves, no less). From there each attendee partners with a classmate for drills before winding down with additional exercises. The result is a full-body cardiovascular and muscle-toning workout.
656 Sixth Avenue (at 20th Street)
Located in a former church-turned-nightclub, Limelight Fitness retains much of its original ecclesiastic architecture: Free weights sit in racks beneath gothic arches; treadmills are lined up beside stained-glass windows. Settings do not get much more inspiring than this. The surroundings are not Limelight’s only distinguishing characteristic. Like Crunch, it complements a gamut of machines and personal-training services with unusual classes. These range from capoeira, an African-Brazilian martial art that incorporates dance and music to IntenSati, a mélange of martial arts, yoga, dance, and interval training, to Hip Haus, dedicated to improving hip mobility and flexibility.
269 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)
You will find only one type of machine here: rowing machines. Row House claims that each of its 45-minute low-impact classes, which also incorporate floor exercises, will burn at least 800 calories while elevating your heartbeat. Classes are available for newbies and experienced rowers alike: RH Restore is a gentler workout, while the medium-intensity RH Sculpt adds dumbbells to the routine, and RH Competition is tailored to experienced rowers.
60 Chelsea Piers (off 20th Street at Hudson River Park)
Outside the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. Image: Dan DeLuca/Flickr
Think of a sports activity, and chances are you can engage in it here. This sprawling facility boasts a six-lane, 75-foot swimming pool, a whirlpool spa, three full-size basketball courts, a boxing ring, a sand court for volleyball games and cross-training sessions, quarter-mile and 200-meter tracks, and even a rock-climbing wall. All that is in addition to cardio machines—more than 100, from treadmills to cross-trainers—and weight-training. Classes range from Vinyasa yoga to Pilates, Sweat Barre to boxing, Power Cycling to Sculpt 3D. The center also hosts basketball leagues for adults, plus ice hockey and soccer leagues for kids as well as grown-ups.