Help me find an appropriate exercise class in NYC
September 3, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

My metabolism has slowed down greatly in the past few years, my love of ice cream has not. Best exercise class in Midtown NYC that will get me in shape quickly?

I'm starting a new job in midtown NYC (55th) and I would like to lose (eventually) 20 pounds or so. I've done the gym thing before but I end up just walking slowly on the treadmill too often. I realize I need a class, where there's an instructor and other people and I don't want to look like I'm not trying.

1. What type of class would be best? I'm fine with starting slow but I really want to make some significant gains somewhat soon. I have asthma, but Advair keeps it handled pretty well.

2. What some clubs are in the neighborhood that would have these classes? I mean I can certainly google them myself, but if you have a location/class that you recommend that would be wonderful.
posted by Brainy to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Spin classes at any gym are a good idea. I believe New York Health & Racquet Club has spin classes, and they have a location in the 50s in Midtown...
posted by dfriedman at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you also going to living in midtown?

It's on 72nd, and I don't know if spinning would be up your alley, but I have some friends who are pretty in love with Soul Cycle. And anecdotally, they're all pretty damn fit.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2010

Or, if money is no object, join LA Sports Club @ Rockefeller Center.
posted by dfriedman at 3:25 PM on September 3, 2010

If money is no object, try Physique 57. It's pretty douchey but also effective.
posted by prefpara at 3:30 PM on September 3, 2010

Ditto on the Physique 57--I had a former colleague who took their classes and became really fit, really fast. And fit-fit--it was like she became an athlete over the course of six months or so. Fit. Seems mostly for the ladies, but there were some men there, apparently.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:38 PM on September 3, 2010

If you love ice cream, I recommend that you move up your tastes to ultra-premium ice cream. Dr Dean Ornish found that people who eat ultra-premium ice cream (in moderate quantities of course) actually have better weight loss than people who eat store brands and brands like Ben and Jerry's.
posted by parmanparman at 3:51 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I really want to recommend Spin class too. If you go regularly the camaraderie will motivate you into sticking with it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:01 PM on September 3, 2010

I'm a big fan of Pilates - it will provide a foundation for real-world strength - that is, keep you fit for moving around, carrying stuff, getting older, not hurting your back, etc. - and it moves fast enough to get your heart working. There are a lot of inauthentic Pilates studios out there (i.e., ones that don't really adhere to the method as originally conceived by Joseph Pilates) but New Yorkers are lucky to have a very good, classically-oriented training center: Power Pilates has studios on 23rd St (between B'way and 6th) and on 3rd Ave between 54th/55th. Though private lessons are expensive, you don't need them: there are lots of mat classes to choose from, days and evenings, and they're cheap. Intro specials are available.

I'm not affiliated in any way. And I live in Los Angeles, but you'll find me at one of those NY studios every day when I'm visiting my family back east. The discipline changed my life...
posted by soulbarn at 4:08 PM on September 3, 2010

While this new job is is still somewhat of an object so LA & Physique are probably out (although I couldn't easily find prices).

Soul Cycle sounds good but a bit out of the way. I was going to mention Spin classes in the original post and since they were brought up, is there a difference between Spin classes in different health clubs—aside from the obvious variability of instructor.

Parmanparman, correlation !causation aside, you've made my day.
posted by Brainy at 4:15 PM on September 3, 2010

If I were a class person I would join Crunch, because they have crazy classes available. I mean, every single fitness trend that comes around seems to have a Crunch class for at least a while. And they're everywhere, so you might be able to join and go near where you live and where you work.
Otherwise I would totally go to Mid City Gym if I worked or lived anywhere near midtown. But I don't know that it totally meets your desires.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:17 PM on September 3, 2010

I'm a Body Pump fan, but have no idea where that might be available near you. Their locator might help. It's like step with light weights -- very effective without being insanely difficult.

But really, weight loss is about 20% what you do, and 80% what you eat. Lay off the ice cream. :-)
posted by coolguymichael at 4:23 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

LA Sports Club charges around $200 per month if memory serves.
posted by dfriedman at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2010

I will be blunt: I think you are thinking about this partially in the wrong way. Here's my advice, take it or leave it.

1) I don't really know how you eat but I'm assuming the worst based on your post, so forgive me if I'm off base: find a way to modify your diet so that you are eating healthier but in a way you can sustain over the long term (i.e. no grapefruit and cookie diets or whatever bullshit fad is around now). "Eat around the perimeter of the grocery store," to paraphrase Michael Pollan (and others): go for less processed food. Get a reasonably good balance of macro-nutrient ratios (that would be protein, complex carbs, "good" fats). Eat smaller meals, but more frequently; don't stuff yourself. Key: let yourself slip once in a while without falling completely off the wagon.

Obviously there is more to it than that but just having something consistently healthy is the right place to start. Diet is the #1 factor if you want to lose weight, BUT, you should be focused on losing FAT, not WEIGHT, because WEIGHT is a bullshit metric for both physical health and attractiveness. Ditch the scale. Seriously.

2) Try a bunch of different gyms, try a bunch of different classes or (licensed) trainers, and figure out what doesn't make you bored...then do that (I don't know the area and I'm sure others will give you lots of specific suggestions so I'm being general here). The biggest issue in finding a workout plan is not what you do but whether you do anything at all, consistently (um, safety is important too, so make sure you know what the heck you're doing, that is get a good, licensed trainer if you need help). I have changed my exercise patterns so much over the last five years or so but I have been exercising consistently over the last five years or so, because I don't let myself get bored. I think it's great that you know that a class is a better way to motivate yourself than slumping on a treadmill, but don't worry as much about what the "best" sort of class would be, just figure out what you really like doing. If you hate it, you'll stop, and what's the point then?

3) Did I mention diet?

Also, read this: “In general, exercise by itself is pretty useless for weight loss,” says Eric Ravussin, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and an expert on weight loss.
posted by dubitable at 5:44 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and what coolguymichael said.
posted by dubitable at 5:45 PM on September 3, 2010

There are different kinds of Spin class. I like the original which would be Johnny G. Spin. (I think they have trademarked the word spin or spinning, I forget which. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:58 PM on September 3, 2010

money is still somewhat of an object

So skip the exercise and just eat less. Costs less, and is way, way more effective than exercise for reducing your weight. If anything, exercise will likely make your weight stay the same, as fat is replaced with denser, heavier muscle.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:14 PM on September 3, 2010

What's wrong with heavy, dense muscle? Muscle that burns calories at rest?

Look, from my experience, you really need to do both. JUST watching caloric intake has the effect of having you lose muscle mass as well as fat and that is counterproductive. JUST exercising, you can lose a clothing size or so before the scale shows you anything. When I was actually eating right and exercising, my fat percentage dropped rather dramatically.

When I was practically living at the gym I could eat pretty much anything within reason and keep my weight down. But real life dictates I cannot live at the gym anymore. *sigh*
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:52 PM on September 3, 2010

If anything, exercise will likely make your weight stay the same, as fat is replaced with denser, heavier muscle.

First, that's a good thing if it happens. Second, the "replacing fat with muscle" effect seems to get grossly exaggerated. The vast majority of people can't gain a significant amount of muscular bodyweight without doing consistent and serious lifting and eating. A person who takes up running or yoga or whatever is not suddenly going to gain a ton of muscle. It just doesn't work that way. Losing fat while maintaining muscle is difficult, but doable with the right nutrition and heavy lifting. This is what bodybuilders are all about.

To the OP, I'd point out that your metabolism slows mostly because you lose muscle mass. If you're the kind of person that really needs a class to get things done, I'd recommend joining a CrossFit affiliate, bearing in mind all of the caveats discussed here. It's expensive though. But about a million times more useful than BodyPump.
posted by JohnMarston at 7:08 PM on September 3, 2010

Take up running. Your job is not too far from Central Park. Take up Couch-to-5K, which starts off as a pretty good interval workout and burns about 100 calories for every 10 minutes.

Also, sites like Groupon, Living Social, Buy With Me and Tippr occasionally offer deals on boot camps, yoga studios, sports lessons, etc. So you can try different activities at a discount without having to commit. Hopefully, along the way, you'll find something you really like.
posted by zerbinetta at 8:55 PM on September 3, 2010

I say the same thing in all threads like this, and it does tend to get deleted.

There is little or no point in trying to "get into shape" through exercise on the one hand, whilst not controlling diet on the other. You can't have your cake and eat it (and lose weight).
posted by Biru at 5:35 AM on September 4, 2010

Anything that gets your heart rate up and you like enough to do again. Don't be afraid to chop and change. In fact, it's better for weight loss if you're constantly varying what you do.
posted by kjs4 at 7:47 AM on September 4, 2010

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