New York’s Best Boutique Fitness Classes

Manhattan has become home to the latest and greatest fitness classes that attract cult followings. For those with gym burnout, there are no shortage of options to kickstart your routine and try something new. Luckily, we’ve spent the last month trying them out and coming up with our favorites. Here’s the skinny on our favorite classes. With most of them, the more classes you buy upfront, the cheaper they are on a per class basis. Added bonus: In the summer, many of the classes are offered in the Hamptons.

Barry’s Bootcamp
The Skinny: This class is a mix of treadmill exercises and floor exercises that are high intensity and will leave you drenched in your own sweat (in a good way). You alternate between the treadmill where you will jog, sprint and take your incline to crazy heights while your instructor gives you directions on how fast to run or at what incline. I’m not a big fan of running, but it is amazing how quickly the running parts fly by.
Cost: $34/class

Refine Method
The Skinny: Step into the West Village’s Refine Method into a beautiful boutique studio with room for just twelve students. (For those uptown, there are also studios on the Upper West and Upper East sides). Refine Method is a wonderful blend of cardio and strength exercises that are done non-stop for 45 minutes, meaning that you are burning calories the entire class. I’ve been to two classes and here’s a mix of some of the exercises you can find yourself doing: jumping rope, kettle bell swings, squats, kettle bell rows, box steps, etc. Because the class sizes are so small, the instructors spend a ton of personal time working on perfecting your form and even make a concerted effort to know everyone’s names.
Cost: $34 a class, but for new members, you get a class free after paying for your first one.

Bar Method
The Skinny: Tucked on Soho’s Sprint Street is Bar Method, a kick-ass workout that targets your thighs, butt, arms and core inside of one hour. I attended on a recent Saturday afternoon and took a mixed class with Chelsea. I loved how Chelsea coached the class through each motion, and spent time with us individually on our form, ensuring we got the most out of the workout. I noticed that Bar Method differs a bit from other classes in that you hold poses longer, which means that toward the end of an exercise, your legs are literally shaking as you try to keep your form. We did a mix of weights, pushups, barre work and stretching that leaves you feeling limber and strong. There is also a midtown location in Manhattan.
Cost: $37/class

Swerve Fitness
The Skinny: I’m a huge fan of spin classes and think they are a great way to pack a lot of calorie burning into a session, so I wasn’t sure how Swerve Fitness could improve upon a standard spin class or Soul Cycle. But, since trying my first class, I’m now a believer. In a Swerve class, you’ll do all of the standard drills you do in a typical class, from hills to sprints to arm weights. The difference is that the class is split into three teams — red, blue and green, and your intensity during the class and during timed sprints is scored, awarding your team points. The effect is that you find yourself working extra hard not to let your team down, digging in and sprinting where you otherwise might have given up. I left the class drenched in sweat. After, you get an email with your calorie burn, rank in the class and rank on your team.
Cost: Classes are $30 each, but for new riders, you get an extra one for free.

Pure Barre
The Skinny: This popular chain of barre classes is in a bunch of major cities, and is perfect for people who travel often and are looking for a cohesive class on the road. I recently took a class at their Columbus Circle location in Manhattan and was impressed. First, Pure hands down has the best music of any barre class I’ve been to, and that kept me motivated and tucking even when I thought I was out of tucks. I loved the barre work in particular, and my trainer really worked us hard, through a series of leg exercises that had all of our legs trembling. I sweat more in this class than in the other classes I’ve tried, which is also a plus. Would highly recommend it. Bonus: they have a few locations throughout NYC.
Cost: $33/class

The Skinny: If you’re looking for an intense, but zen, spin class, then Soul is it. Some liken the enthusiasm its participants have to a cult, but the class is equal parts a good workout and a fun girls club where instructors are super motivational and play great music. They were also one of the first spin classes to incorporate hand weights, and don’t be fooled, even the three pounders provide a tough workout.
Cost: $34/class

The Skinny: This interval class combines kettle bells, planks, dance, cardio, strength and other activities into a high-energy workout. I went on a Saturday, and beware, it’s very crowded on the weekends, and had Tim Anderson as my instructor. Tim has worked with Madonna in the past and has a dance background, which was evident in his class, which combined lengthening and toning moves with cardio and some dance-inspired bits. You are moving non-stop – I actually don’t even remember having water – but I say that in a good way because you really push yourself. We did squats, planks, sit ups, core exercises etc. The music was amazing and Tim was super fun. This isn’t a class for people looking for personal attention on form, but is definitely fun and a hard workout.
Cost: $35/class. New users get two for price of one.

Physique 57
The Skinny: I never understood the hype around barre workouts, until I tried Physique 57. This workout combines hand weights and a ballet bar to seriously give your legs, abs and arms a major workout. I had a difficult time just making it through the warm up, which was a series of exercises using five-pound weights. The class is extremely challenging, but you can feel your muscles working the entire time as you squat and pulse and lift. Great for those looking to tone up.
Cost: $36/class, but newbies get two for the price of one. Also is on Classpass.

The Skinny: This high-intensity spin class with two locations (Astor Place and Hell’s Kitchen) is as fun as it is challenging. The studio is brightly-colored and spotless, and the class is really well choreographed to music that makes you want to move and keep up with the beat. (Shout out to our instructor for playing a dance remix of Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time”) The class has a mix of sprints, tap backs, and hills interspersed with hand weights that will have your arms wanting to wall off. I left the class dripping in sweat and totally energized for the weekend.
Cost: $28 for one class

Row House
The Skinny: This workout centers around, you guessed it, rowing machines. During the 50 minute class, you spend the majority on an erg machine, rowing at different speeds and intensities. The rowing is broken up by a few sets of floor exercises, such as planks, squats, lunges, etc. This is one of those routines where learning the right form may take a few classes. While it’s a workout, it’s lower intensity than a spin class or some of the other classes described here. You won’t leave dripping sweat, but you will feel sore the next day (speaking from experience!).
Cost: $25/class for a three pack.

Fhitting Room:
The Skinny: This workout class focuses on weight training and really pushes you to workout major muscle groups. I loved that each class has two instructors, which work the room to make sure your form is correct. A typical class will have you doing a range of exercises, sometimes solo and sometimes as part of a group. Moves include kettle bells, squats, TRX, plank rows, ropes, dead lifts, etc. The last circuit of the class I was in paired us into groups of four that did six different stations for 30 seconds each, four times in a row. This included wind bikes, squats, dead lifts, etc. and you are seriously winded by the end of each set. While you don’t come out of the class drenched, expect to seriously feel the results of the workout the next day. I was super sore for days!
Cost: $38/class.

Tone House
The Skinny: Where do I even start with this workout? I went into Tone House having read the reviews that it is “New York’s hardest workout” and mistakenly thought that was clever marketing/hype. Boy was I wrong. I consider myself on shape and I exercise five days a week, but this class majorly kicked my ass. You start out with a “warm up” of sprints over hurdles. By the end you are winded and feel like you could vomit. It only gets harder from there.
Cost: $40/class

Related Reading: San Francisco’s Best Fitness Classes

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