Actually Cool Dance Classes in NYC

Real talk: I used to think dance classes were for people who couldn’t handle “real” workout classes like Barry’s Bootcamp.  Dance classes didn’t seem hardcore enough for me. Then one of two things happened. Either I got over myself or these classes got harder, probably both. Look around any of these dance classes and you see (mostly) women who are way stronger than me.

Today’s fitness market is packed, and it shouldn’t surprise you that New York City has many dance-focused offerings. They range far beyond traditional options like Zumba or Ballet. Some of the classes use dance to complement strength workouts within one session. Here’s a rundown of the dance classes currently trending in New York.

Tracy Anderson
This is the mothership. Tracy Anderson pioneered making dance classes cool when everyone found out she trained Goop-queen Gwyneth Paltrow with her dance technique. Tracy Anderson’s dance classes are Zumba-esque; there is no speaking, just follow the leader style dance. Classes are $45 a pop and are taught in a warm room on a bouncy floor. I took one class at her studio in East Hampton, and despite the heat, found the environment cold. They also didn’t have a working bathroom and directed us to use the one in the parking lot. Does Gwyenth pee in the public restroom when she comes in for a class?  Read my full review here.

AKT
This is very similar to Tracy Anderson, but I found the scene way more welcoming. Again, I’ve only taken this class in its East Hampton studio, but I’m going to assume the vibe is the same at NoMad and the UES locations. Every few weeks the dance routine changes. Through the class, you learn one set of moves that repeat to different songs throughout the class, and there is no verbal instruction. Toward the end of the routine’s cycle, you’ll see regulars in the front row look like pros since they’ve done the moves so many times. I, however, continued to look like a spaz. The class breaks for some light body weight work. Read my full review here.

Body by Simone
This was my favorite. Admittedly the location is a bit hard to get to. It’s west of 11th Avenue. The teachers are incredible dancers and they’re upbeat and welcoming. There is serious strength work incorporated even into the dance-centric versions of their classes. One flaw: I was running late to class one early morning, and my wallet was at the very bottom of my gym bag under all of my worldly possessions. I asked the woman behind the front desk if I could have a water bottle, and promised to pay post-class. She said no. She apparently didn’t trust I would make good on the $2 purchase. That didn’t feel friendly to me. I’ve come back 100 times since though and continue to love it.

DanceBody
This class was bonkers. I took DanceBody Sculpt at their NoMad studio. The class starts with about 15 minutes of dance and progresses to a deep sculpting routine. The cliental was young and most of the ladies had forgone shirts for trendy sports bras. Weights are worn on your wrists while you dance. This is serious stuff. This was a tough workout and I was sore after. Odd note: The folks at DanceBody record the classes and post them on social media. I would’ve liked a heads up about this. Some of the students also captured the class on their iPhones, presumably for their personal handles. I felt a little exposed by this, even if I was one of the few folks wearing a shirt.

BananaSkirt
This is a great studio to hit up if you want to learn the moves to your favorite music videos. Their class schedule lists popular songs (lots of Beyonce and Britney!) and their teachers will spend the hour-long class walking you through music video routines to those songs. I thought it was very fun to learn an actual, memorable dance.

BroadwayBodies
This class was the silliest. It felt like a bachelorette activity in it’s over-the-top style of dance. The room was very crowded, which made it feel a little disorganized but also it took the pressure off since it created a fun, free vibe. This class also focused on teaching the choreography to one song for the whole session.

305 Fitness
This class comes with a lot of hype. The studio is decorated to be super instagrammable and it draws a younger crowd due to it’s location near NYU. I thought the class was only OKAY. It was taught like Zumba which means follow-along style only. You do the moves over and over and you face different directions. It’s a good time, but not my favorite.  Read my review here.

Do you take dance classes to work out? Share your favorite!

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