Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg
Fitness

These Are the Cult Gyms Where New Yorkers Are Shredding Their Bodies Right Now

Need a new fitness routine for the new year? Take inspiration from these crazies.

The gyms of New York City—one of the most fitness-obsessed cities in the world—are packed with sporadic exercisers who, at this very moment, are trying desperately to stick to a New Year's resolution.

Forget those people.

We want to talk about the people whose gym is their lifestyle. The ones who go four, five, and six times a week to the same class, handing over their well-being entirely to one gym and giving it all their energy and passion. You know how nuts your CrossFit friends are? These people are that way about boxing, cardio pilates, interval workouts, and more. Their gyms are communities, led by inspiring and innovative fitness gurus who are beloved as though they were religious leaders.

Is this healthy? Physically, yes. And come summer, when you have to put on a bathing suit, what else matters, really? Here are the eight hottest cult gyms in New York City right now.

SoHo Strength Lab

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Co-founder Andy Speer of SoHo Strength Lab demonstrating a handstand in his SoHo studio.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Bloomberg

Andy Speer is a top Men's Health-rated trainer, and his SoHo Strength Lab (SSL) offers private sessions to tailor a workout to your specific strengths, goals, weaknesses, and imbalances. The two-floor, 3,900-sq.-ft. training facility is filled with everything you need to jump, squat, lift, and tumble, and instructors are certified strength and conditioning specialists. SSL focuses on one-on-one private training, so you're typically working on a specific goal, whether you're looking to lose weight or gain muscle mass. You even have the choice of doing full-body workouts or focusing on specific muscle groups. 

Advice from co-founder Andy Speer:

How often do most clients go?
"Most of our clients train two to four times per week. They may do other exercise or training 'homework' on their off days from training at SSL."

Will I see any famous faces there?
"We train notable names in fashion, entertainment, and professional sports, including Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and fashion icon Christy Turlington."

What's one main food rule that people should follow?
"Remove sugar and white carbohydrates. This will force you to explore other options consisting of proteins, fruits and vegetables, and brown or whole grains. Everyone has different specifics that work best for them as far as protein/fat/carb ratios, but if you take out white carbs and sugar, you are putting yourself in a great place.

"Plus, drink more water. This is huge. Try to drink at least two liters of water each day. Most people are chronically dehydrated. Water is essential to optimize fat burning and almost every single metabolic function of you body."

Price: Inquire at gym.
Info: 182 Mulberry Street, New York; 646 926-1182; sohostrengthlab.com

 

S10 Training 

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Stephen Cheuk of S10 demonstrating a muscle up on the gymnastic rings.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Bloomberg

Founded by an Australian fitness expert Stephen Cheuk three years ago, S10 Training limits its membership to 100, and each class is either completely private or semi-private. If you're hand-selected to go, you'll see rappers, actors, models, and a bevy of fashion editors working out alongside you. The name comes from the club's stated goal of getting you below 10 percent body fat—so expect rigorous, superset workouts. If you're working on a specific muscle group that day—biceps, say—expect to do three back-to-back exercises with no breaks and recover for one minute in between sets. An example of would be: 12 bicep curls, 10 bicep pull-ups, and again, 12 bicep curls. Do that five rounds, and you're only 15 percent through your workout at S10. Pack a towel, you'll need it. 

Advice from founder Stephen Cheuk:

How often do most clients go?
"Most clients come three times a week, at least."

Do you have a favorite success story?
"I had a tech executive that was possibly my weakest and most uncoordinated client, he couldn't even do one push-up on his knees, had terrible motor control, and was 28 percent body fat. In 12 weeks, we got him to 14 percent and turned him into a beast in the gym with good movements.

"Another one would be a client that owns restaurants and is on his feet all day. He could barely touch his hands below his knees and was just all-round tight in his hips and back and would always get hip, back, and knee pain. Fast forward six months, and he is super limber, can touch his toes—the first time in his life that he can remember—has great hip and spine mobility, and on top of that, is pain free."

Can you name some of your famous clientele?
Diplo, Matthew Broderick.

Price: $50 a class.
Info: 87 Walker Street, 646 682-7825; s10training.com

 

 Tone House 

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Tone House class in session.
Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

Tone House is a very difficult class, the hardest this writer experienced in 2016. In my experience, often only half the members who start the session will finish it, and an occasional gym-goer will vomit. (That is a peril of many of these classes, frankly.) Instructor and former Division II football player Alonzo Wilson uses pro sports techniques and conditioning drills, which will batter even experienced boot-camp fans. Some workouts are also competitive, pitting classmates against one another in suicide drills, while others are team-building, where a patron will find herself partnering with someone else. Both of these methods are meant to motivate you and push your limits. 

Advice from founder Alonzo Wilson:

Do you have a favorite success story?
"One of our male clients, Kevin. When he first came to class, he could barely make it through the whole warm-up, but he kept coming back, putting in the work, and now Kevin leads the warm-up and has lost 60 pounds."

Which celebrity might I see there?
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model Nina Agdal.

What's one main food rule that people must follow?
"You have to think of food as fuel rather than just for pleasure."

Price: $40 a class.
Info: 32 E. 31st Street; 646 453-6633; tonehouse.com

 

The Fhitting Room

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Eric Salvador teaching a Fhitting Room class.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

At the Fhitting Room, the classes focus on high-intensity movements such as squatting, lifting, and jumping. Class size is small, up to 24 participants per class, and each class provides a total body workout. It begins with a warm-up to get your muscles moving, and then the instructor will move into strength training or a circuit. For the 20-minute circuits, participants are divided into groups of four to six people, who travel through up through 20 stations working out for one minute and then resting for one minute. Exercises include kettle bell swings, dumb bell moves, burpees, box jumps, spurts on the rowing machine, and so on. The class will then conclude with its signature FHIX session, a combination cardio and weights workout.  

Advice from instructor Eric Salvador:

How often do most clients go?
"Depending on how active someone was prior to coming to the Fhitting Room, most will see results after two to three workouts per week. On average, clients come two times weekly, but many of our loyalists come three or four times weekly, and some come daily, with a regular recovery day once a week."

What's your favorite workout on the road?
"We recently launched a new section on our website called GoFHIX Workouts. These quick and efficient workouts are bodyweight only, so they can be done anywhere, any time. A new workout is added each Wednesday."

Do you have a favorite success story?
"I find our expecting moms to be really inspiring. We regularly have prenatal clients attend classes throughout their pregnancies, and many have attributed staying active throughout as a huge contributor to their health and happiness. We recently covered a FHIT couple who is expecting their first child on our blog."

Price: $38 a class
Info: 201 E. 67th Street, 5th fl, 646 869-1840; fhittingroom.com
31 W. 19th Street; 646 850-0469

 

30/60/90

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A 30/60/90 class in session at Liftonic in NYC.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

This popular class began at the Equinox chain and at 24 Hour Fitness (where participants line up 30 minutes or more before each 38-minute session begins) and will soon expand to its own locations. There are very few breaks in this class, which is based on repeated interval cardio/strength movements performed for 30, 60, and then 90 seconds—followed by active recovery. Expect jumping jacks, box steps, star jumps, push-ups, and lunges to thumping pop music, and be prepared to sweat. A lot.

Advice from founder Kristi Molinaro:

How often do people need to go?
"Ideally three times a week to see results, but once or twice is better than going from sitting at a desk to sitting on the couch every night. Most regulars go about four times a week, but we see some clients every day and even multiple times a day."

What's your favorite workout on the road?
"We actually have a 30/60/90 DVD, and it's available for download on the iPad as well. "

What's one main food rule that people must follow?
"Try to stay away from processed foods."

Price: Free with gym membership for now.
Info: Various locations, find them at 306090fitness.com

 

SLT

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Members using the Megaformer during an SLT class.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

The SLT workout combines elements of cardio, strength training, and Pilates, and it attracts a large male and female client base, very devoted clientele. Each member of the class will have his or her own Megaformer (similar to a Pilates Reformer) with weighted springs for added resistance, which is designed to strengthen the core and stretch the limbs. Instructors suggest you'll burn at least 700 calories by the end of each 50-minute class and speedily tone such problem areas as the stomach, butt, back, and upper arms.  

Advice from Lanae Rhodes, director of training and development:

What are the results people get?
"Our name says it all. The results of the workout are a strengthened, lengthened, and toned body."

How often do people need to go?
"We recommend taking SLT three to four times per week. Due to the intense nature of the workout, it's good to give the body a day in between sessions to recover and for muscles to repair—that's where the amazing results come in."

What's your favorite workout on the road?
"I love planks and all the variations you can do. You can do them anywhere, and there are so many variations to keep them fresh, exciting, and full body."

Price: $40 a class.
Info: Various locations, sltnyc.com

 

Shadowbox

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Olivia Amato from Shadowbox in its studio in the Flatiron district. 

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

If you're over using weights, running on the treadmill, or want a different way of working out that will boost your adrenaline and whip your body in shape—try boxing. According to instructor Olivia Amato, who is also a model with Wilhelmina, "Boxing is a technical sport, so its important to hold yourself accountable for the moves and to continuously push yourself out of your comfort zone." Classes begin with a cardio warm-up and move to a series of boxing combos taught by the instructor. Between high-octane sets of hooks, uppercuts, dodges, and weaves, participants engage in intense cardio moves such as burpees, push-ups, and body squats. You may not realize how hard you're working your upper body with the boxing sets until the next day, when you're sore in muscles you never even knew you had. 

Advice from instructor Olivia Amato:

Who is this class/gym best for?
"Boxers of all levels and people who just want a good workout. You can never peak as a boxer; you can always get faster, stronger, and improve on your craft."

What are the results people get?
"Boxing is a great full-body workout where you get stronger both physically and mentally. I know every time I leave that room, I am drenched in sweat and buzzing off of endorphins. It's also nice to know that you can protect yourself if you ever needed to."

What's your favorite workout on the road?
"Tabata exercises, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off doing exercises like high knees, push-ups, or burpees. I like this because you can do it anywhere—even in your hotel room. I usually do this for about 20 minutes."

What's your main food rule that people must follow?
"You don’t need to eliminate anything from your diet—everything in moderation. Balance is key, and never deprive yourself fully from eating things you enjoy."

Price: $34 a class.
Info: 28 W. 20th Street, 646 666-0756; shadowboxnyc.com
55 Prospect Street, 718 305-6488

 

Mile High Run Club

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Runners on treadmills at the Mile High Run Club.

Photographer: Cait Oppermann/Blooomberg

Think of your favorite spin class but swap out bikes for treadmills, and that is Mile High Run Club. Most classes start off with dynamic warm-ups off the treadmill, including squats and lunges that help you prepare your muscles. The instructor advises on intervals and inclines to the sound of inspirational music, but as in a spin class, the runner controls the speed. This class is for new and experienced runners who are looking to improve their speed and endurance and at the same time lose weight (interval speed training is more effective than long, slow runs that many runners are used to). 

Advice from founder Debora Warner:

What is your favorite kind of client?
"My favorite customer is someone who is new to running and racing—first-time half marathoners, for example."

Any celebrity clientele?
"Jake Gyllenhaal."

What's one main food rule that people must follow?
"Running doesn't give you a license to eat anything. The basic principles of a good diet apply to runners as well."

Price: $32 a class.
Info: 24 W. 25th Street, 212 466-6472; milehighrunclub.com
28 E. 4th Street, 212 466-6472

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