Before I go away anywhere, it’s pretty standard for me to research where I can work out while I’m there. I don’t intend to stop doing the things I love most just because I’m on holiday. Working out is my idea of fun, remember!
So really, my recent trip to New York was fitness tourism on a whole new level. The Big Apple is like Mecca for fanatics like me.
Everyone works out over there. You’ll get smacked in the face with a yoga mat on a crowded subway, see groups of runners breeze past you on Fifth Avenue as you window shop and overhear executives organising their Class Pass schedules with more fervour than they do their work diaries.
I tried out a bunch of classes. Here’s my pick of the best and how you can find your fix closer to home.
You’ve most likely heard about the mighty Soul Cycle. They are exceptional at what they do. It has a cult-like reputation and minutes into the workout, you can see why. Great tunes, instructors who could be motivational speakers, spinning by candlelight and a whole room moving in beautiful synchronicity - there’s a bit of a magical vibe about it all. Definitely worth a try.
Get your fix here: Try BOOM Cycle - inspirational instructors, banging playlists and low-level lighting in the studio make you feel like you’re working out in a nightclub.
Do you want to have the most fun ever in life? You need to Socacize. I went into this a little cocky, thinking it would be a cheesy dance workout. The puddle of sweat I found myself in by the end proved me very wrong. This class is like an hour of Carnival gone mad. We literally did not stop moving, mixing plenty of ‘wining of the waist’ with traditional aerobics moves, all to insanely infectious Soca rhythms - I smiled the whole way through.
Get your fix here: If you love a dance-based workout, Tone N’ Twerk at Gymbox or Twerk and Grind at London Dance Academy are worth a try. Great workouts, sure, while equipping you with the best new dance moves for your next night out.
If Soul Cycle is the cult spin institution, Peloton is the future. You can buy a Peloton bike for your home or office, which comes equipped with a screen where you can tune in to Peloton rides ‘On Demand’ as you would your favourite TV show. Or you can ride live in the studio, as I did. You ride to hit certain metrics on your screen (RPM, wattage output and other fancy numbers) to keep you motivated and you can see the stats of everyone riding in the class (as well as the riders who are doing it at home), so it becomes a friendly kind of competition. The online community aspect of Peloton is amazing. I went to a Live DJ ride with the awesome Robin Arzon and there were seven riders who’d driven 14 hours to join in a live class - they all have Peloton bikes they ride at home. Now that’s commitment!
Get your fi here: Well, it’s not spin, but if you like the idea of being able to tune into a workout live at home, check out Sleek Technique, the ultimate barre sweat fest. Pretend you’re in Black Swan, right there in your living room.
Tone House NYC
If you like a workout that pushes you to your absolute limit, Tone House NYC is the one for you. Apparently it’s not unusual to see NFL players working out here (that should give you an idea of the toughness level). This sweat fest was so hard, I almost puked a couple of times, I saw stars and by the end of it, I just wanted a hug from my mum. Sprint drills, lying on your back and pulling a prowler towards you from halfway across the room while the instructors pile weights onto it, more squats and press ups than you think you can humanly do in an hour - it’s a world of pain. But it feels so damn good. Add to that the instructors are some of the most devastatingly good looking men you’ve ever laid your eyes on and yeah, it’s very much worth it.
Get your fix here: GymClass in Notting Hill is the ultimate combo of HIIT and resistance training that will push your limits and leave you euphoric (and questioning your entire existence). Burpees, bike sprints, tyre flipping, battle ropes, TRX, pull ups and much more means your body is kept guessing as to what is coming next. It may be called GymClass, but it’s a long way from the P.E you did at school.
If you love running, there’s no better way to see the city than with awesome crew. Founded by Mike Saes, a native New Yorker who’s pretty much like the Mayor there, they meet every Wednesday night and run a different route with a variety of mileage options every week. You’ll see pockets of the city no tour guide will take you to and the crew will often go to eat together afterwards - a great way to discover new restaurants. Mixing a bit of fitness with a bit of food - totally the way it should be done!
Get your fix here: London’s legendary Run Dem Crew was modelled after Bridgerunners and will undoubtedly give you the best running experience you can find on this side of the Atlantic. If you hate running, this crew is sure to turn that feeling around.
Words by ELLE Fitness Editor Muireann Carey-Campbell