Sep 29, 2015
The A–Z Guide to Working Out in Brooklyn
Why stick to land-based workouts when you can get in shape by soaring through the skies? Or, if not the skies exactly, at least through the air in the converted Williamsburg warehouse that is Streb Lab. At this acrobatics school (which also offers classes in parkour and trampoline, among other things), you’re pretty much guaranteed to not only get in a great workout, but also have as much fun as you’ve had in, well, your whole life.
51 N. 1st Street, Williamsburg
This fitness studio, with locations in both Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, is run by Cadence Dubus and has an exercise ethos centered around the promotion of strength and individually tailored fitness, and thus is trend-resistant—just how we like it.
Rather than get trapped in a gym membership or stuck struggling to afford a few of your favorite classes every month, ClassPass makes it possible for fitness freaks to go to an unlimited number of many of the borough’s most covetable classes, all for a flat rate.
Hey, exercise isn’t just for humans, it’s definitely for our canine companions too. And, really, is there anything better than running with a friend with whom you don’t have to make awkward, gasping-for-breath conversation? Nah, we didn’t think so.
Looking and feeling good isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t always cheap. But you don’t need to shell out $30 or more per class (let alone the hundreds-per-month some gym memberships cost). Rather, check out many of the cheap and free yoga classes offered around Brooklyn (start with Yoga to the People) and also consider just throwing on some running shoes and taking to the streets and jogging or a biking as a totally free workout.
These rubber bracelets have become pretty much ubiquitous on the wrists of Brooklynites, as have similar fitness trackers like the Jawbone and the Apple Watch. (We’re pretty sure tracking steps is the Apple Watch’s main purpose.) It’s all about how many steps you take a day; any less than 10,000 and we start to feel bad about ourselves.
Gu Energy Gel
Thousands of empty little silver packages fill Brooklyn’s streets after the Half Marathon, thrown aside after calorie- and sodium-starved runners consume the often-noxious-tasting-but-still-strangely-satisfying gel (or goo), which is designed to replenish a runner’s depleted reserves.
Simply the most enjoyable race that even a novice runner in reasonably good shape can run (and finish!), the Brooklyn Half is not only a great test of running ability, but also a great tour of a good amount of the borough. Participants get to pass by the Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza, all of Prospect Park, and end up crossing the finish line on the Coney Island Boardwalk, making literally everyone running it a winner.
Instagram’s Lita Lewis
This social media platform has spawned the troublesome hashtag #thinspo, but it’s not all bad. Case in point: Brooklyn’s own Lita Lewis, who proves that you don’t have to be ultra-thin to be fit, and who has earned tens of thousands of followers due to her promotion of a healthy, beautiful body image.
This Park Slope fitness shop can outfit you with just about anything your workout may require, and the sales staff are uniformly helpful—even tracking your stride on an in-store treadmill so that you’ll get just the right pair of running shoes. Plus, the store has training programs and is a great resource for anyone thinking of attempting a long race.
151 7th Avenue, Park Slope
Perhaps the best part of working out regularly is the way in which being in good shape makes you feel like you can take on the world and, like, kick its ass. This feeling is amplified when your exercise of choice is kickboxing. Practice your roundhouse at one of Brooklyn’s many kickboxing gyms, where you’ll get to take out all your aggression post-evening commute by punching a bag over and over. Just trust us and visualize the G train while you’re doing it.
CKO Kickboxing: 562 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
It’s impossible to go to a yoga or Pilates or ballet barre or just about any class in Brooklyn without seeing someone in lululemon gear. And while we resisted it for a while, after buying a sweat-wicking, odor-resistant tank top and yoga pants that make our butt look good, we finally get the appeal.
Turns out, muscles are those things hiding under all the layers of cushion that you need in order to sit comfortably in front of your computer all day. But guess what? They want to come to the surface. They really do. Let them. Force them. You’ll be happy you did.
New York City Marathon Route
If you have any interest in feeling good about the perseverance of the human spirit (and you really should; we’re all in this together, you know?), head down to Fourth Avenue on the first Sunday of November and cheer on the thousands of men and women from all around the world who are making their way through the grueling 26.2 mile course. Honestly, just thinking about it brings a tear to our eyes.
Outdoors, The Great
For most of us, exercising involves being shut up inside a gym or a workout studio or maybe the rare swathe of urban greenery (see: Prospect Park Loop), but it’s really important to remember that even though New York City doesn’t have an overabundance of places to run off-trail or whatever, we do have miles and miles of bike lanes and running paths, some of them even overlooking the water! You can’t beat that. You really can’t.
Prospect Park Loop
Now that it’s car-free (yay!), the Loop is actually pretty much the perfect place for a run, power-walk, or bike ride. It has a big enough hill that you’ll feel like you’re really pushing yourself and that feeling you get when you run down the park’s southwestern side and see the lake appear through the trees? There’s nothing like it.
Let’s face it: Some of our workout goals are always going to be a little over-ambitious. There’s something inherently quixotic about the desire to stave off our ultimate decline into dust by working out like demons and, like, juice-cleansing or whatever. But that’s not stopping us anytime soon. It certainly is not.
While there aren’t really any mountains to scale in Brooklyn, there is Brooklyn Boulders for rock climbing novices and enthusiasts alike. Learn everything there is to know about the sport so that when you finally get out to Goblin Park in Utah, you’ll be ready to find every available toehold.
Brooklyn Boulders: 575 Degraw Street, Gowanus
SoulCycle devotees are cultish in their obsession for this spinning class—and they’re right to be. Maybe it’s because the music at SoulCycle is always ridiculously on point or maybe it’s the act of sweating your ass off in the near-dark with someone yelling praise at you, but whatever it is, SoulCycle is addictive because of how good it makes you feel, both physically
Tangerine Hot Power Yoga
This tiny yoga studio will leave you drenched in sweat, it’s true, but it will also leave you feeling as if you’re standing two inches taller than when you walked in, and like your muscles are so loose that you could whip both your ankles behind your neck without a moment’s hesitation. And who doesn’t want to be able to do that?
Ubiquitous Workout Trends
It’s always something in the world of fitness. From yoga to Pilates to spinning to ballet barre to boot camp, there’s always some exercise trend that’s sweeping the collective consciousness. And this is fine, we guess. It’s the best way to hear about new ways of working your body. But our advice is to ignore what’s popular and stick with what works for you, your body, and your budget! Because keeping up with those trends can get very expensive.
Very Fast Cyclists
If you’ve ever spent any time in Prospect Park, you know that there is a devoted segment of Brooklyn’s biking population that appears to be training for the Tour de France. Or, you know, probably they’re not. But they sure do ride very fast! Look both ways before you cross the street is all we’re saying.
This is exercise! And it’s the easiest way to work out without trying too hard, especially for New Yorkers. So do it as much as you can. Just say no to subway rides that are three stops or less. And don’t take a cab for short distances. Walk instead. It’s the Brooklyn way.
We love this ballet barre studio. It offers a variety of classes that always leave our muscles trembling, our spines straighter, and our butts tighter and higher than we’d thought possible, which was already very tight and high!
Xtend Barre: 147 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights
If you haven’t spent a rush hour train ride with a still-damp yoga mat stuck in your face, then… well, will you please tell us what subway line you take? We want to switch to it. Thanks.
And sometimes we just want to dance, you know? That’s what’s so great about this aerobic, dance-based workout. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a dancer, there’s no need to be intimidated. The key word here is fun. So have all the fun. That’s the most important aspect to all fitness really; it’s the only way you’ll keep it up.
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