Okay, y’all. So I’ve been obsessed with studio workouts since high school (I tried SoulCycle before it was cool), but they’ve become so expensive that they’re pretty much inaccessible to anyone that doesn’t have opulent wealth, or people like me with exceptionally terrible personal finance skills. But recently I found a more affordable option that still gets me my studio fix: ClassPass. Yeah, yeah, I’m super late to the game since CP has been around for the better part of a decade, but I’m here now.
Since I’ve been commuting from Philly to NYC and back for six months now, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to try out studios in both cities. So yeah I do consider myself an expert even if I don’t have the abs to prove it, tyvm. I narrowed it down to my six tried-and-true favorites, and there’s one for every mood.
If you’re angry, upset, or otherwise willing and ready to hurt someone: Rumble
Rumble is a boxing workout combined with high intensity interval training (HIIT). Like most studios, the instructors are hot, the music is loud, and the lighting is dim. You’ll roll through the six standard punches, and your instructor will teach you different combinations. You go through 10 rounds of shadowboxing with those combos mixed with HIIT, which can include anything from burpees to jump lunges to chest presses and more––with dumbbells, of course. Rumble is super fast-paced and though you’re spending the bulk of time working your upper body, be sure to engage your core and glutes throughout to reap the full body benefits. And be prepared to wake up the next morning unable to use your arms. At all, ever again. You’re an amputee now.
*Not available on ClassPass
If you want to get an *actual* cycling workout (and my classes are unavailable): Flywheel
Let me use this opportunity to take a massive dump on SoulCycle. If you love it, skip to the next paragraph. I’ve done my fair share of Soul classes, and the cult effect is real. The music is great, the instructors are hot, whatever. But after interning at a wellness company for six months, I’ve realized that it’s total BS. They turn the thermostat up and don’t have fans in the studio so you sweat more, thus feeling like you’re working harder than you actually are. What’s more, all of that dancing on the bike is super unsafe, especially if you’re a newbie. And I can say that, because I’m certified in indoor cycling and every single expert literally tells you to do the opposite in your classes! Maybe I’ll write a separate blog post about this because my heart rate is skyrocketing right now as I’m hate-typing???
ANYWHO, Flywheel, SoulCycle’s un-chic cousin that has zero clout but should be influencer-level famous, is my go-to (I also love Chestnut Hill Cycle Fitness). I always take Flywheel’s Method 45 or Method 60 classes, because the instructor takes you through a mix of cycling intervals, sprints, hills, and an upper body circuit that will give you shoulders like Chris Hemsworth. Plus, you can opt-in to the TorqBoard, which puts your name and Power score on a screen for everyone to see. I recommend it for folks who are motivated by competition. The studio itself isn’t anything groundbreaking, but the vibe is so inclusive and energetic –– you’ll see more than just 20-something Regulation Hotties in your class, which is really refreshing. Plus, it’s actually safe indoor cycling.
If you’re a potato seeking to feel lithe, slender, and graceful: Barre3
Hi, resident potato here. I was never a dancer because my body just doesn’t really work like a dancers’ should; I’m kind of clunky and unbalanced, and I have weak ankles and tight hips. You can imagine my reservations when I walked into Barre3 for the first time. The Rittenhouse studio is so beautiful I don’t even feel worthy to sweat on the floors (but imma do it anyways). But the class itself, a fusion of ballet, Pilates, and cardio, ended up being empowering, and it opened my eyes to the limits I put on my body just because it didn’t look like a “dancer body.”
I’ve only taken classes with Kristin in Philly, and she starts with a cardio dance warm-up. Expect lots of calf work, sumo squats, and cartwheel arms, set to the beat of the music. Then you’ll move between the barre, the floor, and cardio, going through tiny movements with balls, bands, light dumbbells, and sliders that will target muscles you didn’t even know you had. You’re going to shake –– a lot. Don’t stop, that means it’s working. This is a total body burn, so my recommendation is to show up after a cardio day or a rest day.
If you want to feel sexy and you’re ready to embarrass yourself in front of others…sober: 305 Fitness
Remember when I said I wasn’t meant to be a dancer? Yes, that applies here, too. But honestly, IDGAF when it’s at 305. Perhaps the most fun workout on the whole list, 305 is a dance class with a live DJ for every class. The studio is the definition of Camp: kitschy, candy-colored, and extra AF. There are at least 14 different places to take a perfect pic for your Instagram story. The workout itself is kind of confusing if you’re not super coordinated, but don’t get caught up in learning every step. I’ve found that as long as you keep moving and doing your best, you’ll have a blast and get a killer sweat. Each class spends a chunk of time on one body region, and the rest going through a hip-hop dance routine that almost always includes twerking and dropping it low. Even if you’re naturally shy when it comes to your body, you’ll walk out feeling super sexy in your own skin.
*Not available on ClassPass
If you’re Type A but still want to do yoga and sweat buckets: Y7 Studio
I’ve always loved the idea of yoga, but it wasn’t until last summer that I actively began practicing, and it started with Y7. This hot yoga studio is unique in that every flow is set to hip hop. As an uptight, Type A Virgo, I’m not really good with the normal oceanic music that accompanies a lot of yoga classes, so when my first instructor blasted Meek within the first ten minutes, I was hooked.
Each class begins with a warm-up and a setting of intentions. Then you go through three flows, three times, and finish with a final ab burner before savasana. The first time is slow, so you understand the movements and sink deep into them. The second is one breath, one movement. The third is called “flow on your own” where you take the reins and decide how fast or slow you want to go, and if you want to add any modifications. Keep in mind that the studio temps can reach the upper 90s. So, come hydrated and be sure to refuel afterwards. I leave Y7 feeling invigorated, glowy (or just sweaty, who knows?), and detoxed every single time.
If you don’t know what you want, omg please stop asking me: Fithouse HIIT
Fithouse is a bit different from the rest of the studios––it’s an all-class club. The schedule is packed from 6a.m. to 9p.m. with classes ranging from Sculpt, Bounce (a trampoline-based workout), HIIT, Hot Yoga Sculpt, and more. I’m highlighting HIIT because it’s different than any workout I’ve ever done. If you find yourself unmotivated to go through a HIIT sequence at the gym, this is your solution. First you find a partner or a team, then the instructor sets up stations with different exercises, and you switch up every 1.5-3.5 minutes. This class is effective because it’s efficient; there’s very little down time, and it’s impossible to get bored. You’ll torch hundreds of calories after going through rounds of burpees, skiers, snatches, kettlebell swings, battle ropes, and more. The neon-lit studio defines your abs––even if you don’t have any––and honestly in the last 10 minutes that might be all that gets you through.
Well that turned out to be so long. Sorry! What are your favorite studios? Let me know! And if you end up trying one of these studios, tell me how you liked it!