Out-of-the-Box Classes to Help Fight Fitness Fatigue

The silly season is over and it’s back to reality with a thud. If you’re trying to start the next decade by treating your body like a temple—but the gym routine is already starting to feel a little dreary—then these not-so-normal fitness classes might add the dash of spice you’re craving!

But ladies, it’s New York City, so the list of out-of-the-box classes is endless and this is just a sample. If you’ve got a wacky class that you think deserves a place on this list hit us up in the comments!

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

BRRRN

Brrr, it’s cold in here! Must be because the temperature is 50°F/10°C. Or, actually, one could argue that’s not that cold at all and a very pleasant climate to work out in. Which was precisely my reaction upon entering the “chill zone” at Brrrn. According to the science espoused on their website, chilling the temperature places your body into a “mild cold stress” that means your metabolism has to work harder to warm you back up. If you combine all this metabolism-ing with a workout – voila! you’ll be in negative calorie land before you can say “freezing my tits off”. I’m not sure I buy into the science. But I did rate the energetic class that consisted of a short circuit containing weights, battle ropes, and burpies on the ‘slide board’, and appreciated the opportunity to workout in a pleasantly cool room that didn’t smell like dank sweat and overheated bodies.

Class type: HIIT, cardio, strength
Good for: Those that think New York studios are always overheated anyway.
Avoid if: You think you’ll feel awkward wearing booties and sliding from side to side as fast as you can.
Bonus: The post class sauna to crank up the heat.
Gimmick factor: Medium
Locations: Flatiron

Photo credit: http://www.thebrrrn.com

CONBODY

If you were locked in a 6 x 9 ft prison cell with nothing but your own body, what would you do to keep moving and stay fit? A shedload of burpies and squats, that’s what! CONBODY is a prison-style fitness bootcamp that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach no-equipment, hardcore workout classes. Developed by former inmate, Coss Marte, using military-style bodyweight training techniques that he learned in prison, CONBODY is not for the feint hearted. The no frills studio is sparsely decorated with infographics that outline the mass incarceration epidemic in the USA and the need for prison reform. And while the instructors might seem intimidating when you first arrive, they’re mainly bark with minimal bite. You’ll come to love being pushed hard and surprised at just how many burpies you’re capable of doing.

Class type: Cardio, HIIT, strength
Good for: People that appreciate a good sweat without the bougie bells and whistles.
Avoid if: You’re not into hardcore hip-hop and gangster rap.
Bonus: A ‘mug shot’ photo op after class—do it for the Gram!
Gimmick factor: Low
Locations: Lower East Side

Photo credit: http://www.conbody.com

Shock Therapy Fitness

The best workout you’ve never tried. Or so says the website. Apparently electro-shock therapy fitness classes are all the rage in Europe but haven’t quite made the same splash in the States (I for one had never heard of it). Shock Therapy Fitness sounded about as “out-of-the-box” I could get, so I registered with equal parts excitement and fear. Upon arrival you are asked to change into the custom “undergarments” before you are hosed down with water and then strapped into your Electro Muscle Stimulation suit. I felt like I was on the set of the Terminator movie. The suit sends off low-frequency electric impulses that cause muscles to contract and relax, significantly more than they would in a normal workout. You are given plenty of warning before the suit is turned on, but even so I was not anticipating the prickly zaps that would pulse through my buttocks and abs. It felt like a thousand pesky ants were giving my tush a slap to make me move more. The class is pitched as 30-minutes, but you’re actually only exercising for 24 minutes including breaks and the routines are quite straight forward. According to their website, one session’s effects can last up to 3 days allowing for more calorie burn over time. I can’t say I felt anything the next day to indicate an intense workout, but I did allow myself a burger for lunch all the same.

Class type: Strength, metabolism
Good for: Time poor New Yorkers looking for a short cut.
Avoid if: You’re pregnant. Seriously, it’ll harm the baby!
Bonus: The power suit is badass.
Gimmick factor: High
Locations: Upper East Side & SoHo

Photo credit: http://www.shocktherapyfitness.com

Surfset

Nothing upsets Americans more than when I tell them I’m an Australian that can’t surf. Not only can I not surf, I actually really dislike waves. So I was intrigued as to whether I would be any good at this class, which takes place atop a surfboard on bouncy balls, promised to be appropriate for both surfers and non-surfers alike. I registered for the newbie class just to be sure and was pleased to see that no one else in the room raised their hand when asked if they were a surfer. The first time I stood up on the board it was like my legs were made of jelly stationed on a waterbed. It wasn’t pretty. But as the class progressed and we moved through a series of yoga and pilates like poses (on top of an unstable surf board!) as well as some high energy movements like donkey kicks and burpies (on top of an unstable surfboard!) I started to get my surf legs. By the end of class I was hooked, already picturing myself riding waves in Hawaii in just a few months. This family run studio also runs surfing trips during summer for their students—and members of the public—and say the difference between those who’ve practiced surfing in the class and those that haven’t is dramatic. Now that could be ironic…moving to New York City and learned to surf!

Class type: Strength, cardio
Good for: People wanting to learn a semi-practical skill while staying fit (surfing is practical, right?).
Avoid if: You’re not interested in working you’re core.
Bonus: Carve out a slice of summer in the peak of winer with the wave soundtrack and surf b-roll playing on loop.
Gimmick factor: Low
Locations: East Village

Photo credit: http://www.surfsetnyc.com

Switch Playground

Ever wondered what would happen if an F45 studio and a night club had a love child? It would look a little something like a Switch Playground. Their classic class is a 60-minute circuit with 20 stations that you tackle with a partner, set to bright lights and upbeat music perfectly orchestrated to your workout by a live DJ in the room. The exercises are a mixture of cardio and strength, but with only two minutes at each station you don’t have a lot of time for working on your technique. It’s also very loud, so practice your lip and sign reading skills if you want to understand the directions from your trainers, each of them a fit twenty-something with a ceaseless supply of high fives.

Class type: HIIT
Good for: Workout couples who like to sweat together.
Avoid if: Bright lights give you anxiety.
Bonus: The yoga warm up and cool down.
Gimmick factor: Low
Locations: SoHo & East Village

Photo credit: http://www.switchplaygrounusa.com

TrampoLEAN

The last time I was on a trampoline it was the 1990s and parents allowed us to jump unencumbered by safety walls and protective matts. Remember? It was when trampolines where still rectangles. Despite the long hiatus between jumps I was pretty jazzed to give TrampoLEAN—a high-energy, low-impact, rebounding class—a go, expecting I would like this class a lot. Boy was I wrong. Turns out that in the past twenty years both my fear of heights and ability to balance have worsened, making a trampoline class not only tricky but kind of scary. I ended up gently bouncing without gaining air for most of the class, barely breaking a sweat. Most other people in the class, however, seemed to be doing a lot better than me and were having a great time. The teacher was lovely and the 90s remixes of GooGoo Dolls and Alanis Morrisette were a plus.

Class type: Aerobics, core
Good for: Party vibes with black lighting and glow in the dark weights.
Avoid if: You have a weak bladder.
Bonus: Traversing the dance school to get to the trampoline studio. People watching that only New York City could deliver.
Gimmick factor: Medium
Locations: Nomad

Woom Yoga

Pitched as a “comprehensive and full mind-body-spirit experience” the Woom Center promised to be a multi-sensory experience, which I interpreted to mean would make me feel transported back to my mother’s womb. Not quite. More like a yoga class set inside a multi-media room you find in a museum exhibit; the ones where a video is playing on all the walls around you but you’re not really sure about what or why. But despite the disappointing lack of a womb-like experience, I actually really enjoyed the yoga class—once I was able to get over the fact that we were made to wear eye masks for the first 5 minutes for no immediately explicable reason other than ridiculousness.

Class type: Yoga and stretching
Good for: Those wanting to bring Burning Man to their Manhattan yoga studio.
Avoid if: You are a yoga traditionalist that will just be distracted by the moving lights.
Bonus: The post class smoothie elixir shot – yum!
Gimmick factor: Medium
Locations: Lower East Side

Photo credit: http://www.classpass.com

Author: Julia O'Brien

Julia is originally from a small town in Victoria and has lived in New York since 2014. She spends her free time exploring the city and other parts of the States, with a razor sharp focus on trying food, wine and cocktails. And some coffee too.

3 thoughts

  1. You guys might also enjoy Punk Rope. It’s about as out of the box as you can get. In fact, it’s taught in a tiki bar in the East Village and is followed by a happy hour. We meet every Tuesday at 6:30pm at Otto’s Shrunken Head. The class combines skipping with calisthenics and resistance band exercises. The playlists changes every week. Last week we played all Australian bands in honor of Australia Day. We also took up a collection for WIRES.

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thanks so much for this suggestion. I am going to put the challenge to Jules, our AWNY ‘”roving reporter” who authored this post. That’s awesome you were able to support the Aussie bushfire relief.

      Regards, Angela
      AWNY Communications Lead

      1. Thanks so much for the reply Angela! I really appreciate it. Also I’m djing an all-Aussie set this Thur night (10pm-2am) at Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village. Should be fun!

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