Fitness, like everything else in this city, can be a down-and-dirty battle — and the local health club doesn’t always rouse everyone to fight. If the same old treadmill runs and spin classes are getting you nowhere, maybe it’s time to try an edgier approach: A growing number of gym alternatives offer offbeat workouts that promise to kick your resolutions square in the ass. Eat your heart out, Lululemon.
Overthrow NYC revels in backroom-ring culture — more Fight Club than Rocky. Located in the Bleecker Street building that until 2014 housed members of Abbie Hoffman’s Yippies — the boxing club’s name references the organization’s Overthrow magazine, equipment is labeled “Steal This Bag” in a nod to Hoffman’s most famous book, and Sid Vicious and GG Allin memorabilia is on display — this gym stays true to the aesthetic with sessions in its grungy basement. The 45-minute Boxing Burnout Class is suitable for all skill levels and mostly covers the basics: shadowboxing, bag work, technique — all no-contact stuff, with the goal of building strength and accuracy. Ring-work classes are available on the brighter but still dingy main level, along with private training. The young, thoroughly tattooed trainers are experienced instructors — many, like Alicia Napoleon and Melissa St. Vil, are pro boxers themselves. For those who want to get fit but also live it up, Friday night’s Boxing & Booze always wraps with a cold beer. Various class times, 9 Bleecker Street, 646-705-0332, overthrownyc.com, $34 per class.
Anyone who’s been to a punk show knows they can resemble a communal sweat bath, and now you can harness the cardio benefits without waiting for your favorite band to come to town. Tim Haft’s 45-minute MoshFit promises to burn you a “shitload of calories”— 400 to 500, approximately — while improving strength, agility, power, and stamina. As in his signature Punk Rope classes, Haft emphasizes having fun and creating a judgment-free community, as you work out to the loud, fast riffs of the Ramones, Stiff Little Fingers, and the Misfits. Stage lunges, side planks, mountain climbers, and other bodyweight exercises supplement the cardio dance moves. And since this semimonthly class takes place in a tiki bar right before happy hour, you’ll have earned yourself a post-mosh drink. At 6:30 p.m., first and third Tuesdays, Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, 212-228-2240, ottosshrunkenhead.com, suggestion donation $10 per class.
Gotham Girls Basic Training
When it comes to teaching how to skate and do physical battle at the same time, there are no better instructors than five-time Women’s Flat Track Derby Association world champions the Gotham Girls. All genders are welcome, and no playing experience is needed: The only requirement is that you can make it around the track without holding on to walls or people. Biannual sessions, all taught by Gotham Girls coaches or skaters, are ten weeks long and divided by skill level. This is a class for those looking to build muscle without the weights, as skating brings out that tight core and toned legs. More advanced skaters build up to making contact as they learn form, crossovers, and safe falls. Returning participants will scrimmage to sharpen their competitive edge. Winter session January 7–March 11, spring session April 1–June 27, gothamgirlsrollerderby.com, $250 per ten-week session.
Anyone turned off by yoga’s Zen-and-rainbows approach can try Metal Yoga, a class that promises to get you holding poses until you “feel the hellfire creeping into” your body. Founding instructor Saskia Thode teaches to the oddly meditative music of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Bathory, among others. Throw up your devil horns (in Warrior 1) and open your heart to Satan (in Camel Pose). The class provides all the time-tested body-and-mind benefits of traditional yoga, but you’re just as likely to practice alongside metalheads in jeans as athletes in tights. Like most yoga it’s low-impact but effective for all body types, toning and elongating muscle while increasing flexibility. Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. (75 min.) and Sundays at 2 p.m. (90 min.), the Cobra Club, 6 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, 917-719-1138, cobraclubbk.com, $13 per class.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 11, 2017