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You Won’t Even Know You’re Sweating

Classes that keep the mind occupied while the heart rate soars.

Antigravity yoga at Crunch.  

1109 Second Ave., at 59th St.
It looks … weird, but performing asanas while supported by a mini hammock (above) lets you deepen stretches. For a downward-facing dog, for example, the hammock wraps around your pelvis and pulls hips up and back to lengthen, and to add weight to your heels. And because there’s something to hold on to, inversions like hanging back bends and handstands feel less frightening than when you’re alone on the mat.

New York Health & Racquet Club
Multiple locations;
After a dance-based warm-up, including grapevines across the floor and toe-touch jumps, you combine the jumps, kicks, and spins into a routine complete with blue-and-white pom-poms, with Toni Basil’s “Oh Mickey!” blasting. Sorry, no human pyramids or Kirsten Dunst cameos.

Reebok Sports Club
160 Columbus Ave., at 67th St. 212-362-6800
Using a long wooden sword as a prop, Ilaria Montagnani (who looks like a cross between Gabrielle Reese and Arnold Schwarzenegger) teaches traditional samurai-sword-training moves. Class begins with “half cuts” (raise your sword over your head so the “blade” points behind you, then slice down to neck level) and “full cuts” (same thing, except the slice ends at the navel) then proceeds rapidly to combinations. Keeping step with Montagnani without maiming fellow fighters requires intense concentration and core stability. Arrive early to sign up.

The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
Pier 60 nr. 19th St. 212-336-6000
There’s something about chair dancing—even with a folding chair—that produces a satisfying “I’m in a music video” feeling that goes a long way to counteract the boredom of a standard body-sculpting session. Here, exercises are taught in sets cued to music. While the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” and Chris Brown’s “Wall to Wall” play, you sit on one corner of a chair and peddle your legs in the air, toes pointed as if you’re riding a bike, to work abs and thighs. You also do moving hip circles (hip swivels done while lowering into a squat, using the chair back for balance) to attack the waist and butt. The cardio comes from putting the sequences together, with a few arabesques tossed in.


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Cover of New York Magazine's Best of New York issue

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Other Best Of Guides

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).