- Manhattan Plaza Health Club
482 W. 43rd St., 212-563-7001
This 25-yard rooftop pool is not only as big as they come in New York, but it’s also enclosed by glass for a balmy greenhouse effect. And you can literally catch a breeze, thanks to the retractable glass roof and the outdoor terrace sundeck, open from Memorial Day weekend.
- Madison Square Club
210 Fifth Ave., 212-683-1836
David Kirsch is the headliner, but the stellar group of ten trainers he’s assembled should not be overlooked. There is only personal training in this intimate three-room space, and it’s all about one-on-one dedication: The trainers stay up nights concocting combinations, and they treat their clients like family.
- Casa SPA & Fitness
540 Park Ave., 212-223 -9280
The key to Casa’s diets is that they’re built around clients’ existing habits, even if those habits include chocolate, cheese, and carbohydrates. Though the advice is often restrictive, nutritionists will shop with you, try to work around your cravings, and even come over to clean out your kitchen.
- The Sports Club/LA
330 E. 61st St., 212-355-5100
Demi Moore, Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger . . . Sightings at these posh club locations read like a paparazzi hit list. If the celebs don’t attract your attention, the regular clientele may—numerous members have married after meeting over cocktails on the expansive rooftop terrace.
- The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
Pier 60, 212-336-6000
Once you pay the $500 starter fee, you’ll get a laundry list of freebies that includes fitness and swimming evaluations, personal-training orientations, specialty training sessions (Pilates, boxing, or climbing), guest passes, and 25 percent off a spa treatment. Even after that, your I.D. card is still worth 10 percent off various services.
- The Gym
11 E. 26th St., 212-889-3003
Both levels here are especially gleaming, with spotless equipment, but it’s the locker rooms we love: plenty of clean towels that actually smell like fabric softener, good water pressure in the showers, and well-stocked supplies of shampoo, soap, and conditioner.
- Power Pilates at Equinox
97 Greenwich Ave., 212-352-8070
Most gym-based Pilates classes are taught by multitasking instructors who could be teaching cardio sculpt next. The staff here are all senior teachers, trained at the main Power Pilates studio in Chelsea, and the atmosphere is unusually serene—the sun-filled fourth-floor studio has views of 12th Street.
Sweating the Details
The best gym for . . .
From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).