- New York Aikikai
142 W. 18th St., second fl., 212-242-6246
Michael Abrams, a teacher and seventh-degree aikido black belt, has iron biceps and could easily pass for 50 (he’s 66). He credits his physical and mental agility to his three-decade-plus study of aikido. Unlike karate, which focuses on striking and punching, “we’re mostly throwing people,” says Abrams, and working on mental control. Beginners work one-on-one with an instructor until they’re comfortable being hurled through the air by a partner. Each class begins with a warm-up and breathing exercises (you’re able to defend yourself better when you’ve learned to stave off panic). This is a discipline, not an exercise fad—but for those who need to hear it in gym-speak, you get a great core workout.