Those who read my last post will already know that I would much rather spend a bit of money on a fun fitness class on holiday than go on-the-cheap with a few hotel room squats. Part of my itinerary planning will always involve researching nearby gyms and cool classes in the local area. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.
My latest trip to New York was no exception. There are no shortage of funky fitness classes in The Big Apple but with only three days to explore, the difficulty was actually going to be deciding which ones to hit, and which to miss. I stumbled across Brooklyn Zoo NY’s website on a quick google-maps recce of the local area. Not only was it right around the corner to our AirBnB (and a world-famous pizzeria) it was also a specialised gymnastic and parkour gym. Offering a range of classes from contortion & stretch, to house dance, to handstands, Brooklyn Zoo NY sounded ideal for my dancer-self and my free-runner boyfriend.
I immediately got in touch, and they kindly invited both Tom and I to try out one of their classes, and then take part in the open-gym session afterwards.
If there’s anything to beat a boring-old bodyweight session it has to be none other than Brooklyn Zoo NY’s Ninja Warrior class.
Yes. You read that right.
NINJA. WARRIOR. CLASS.
Loosely based on the TV show, the class teaches students how to tackle obstacles such as warp walls, salmon ladders and balance beams. Lots of climbing, jumping, and hanging from things, essentially. Did you ever play the game as a child where the floor was lava and you had to scramble your way across the room without falling in?
Anyone who knows me knows that this sort of thing is right down my street. So I sacrificed my hopes of catching a Broadway show in favour of running around like a monkey for a couple of hours.
The class was mixed ability, which can be difficult enough for instructors to cope with in a regular fitness class, let alone one that uses the principles of parkour and has participants running up walls, flipping off podiums and running on barrels. Ok, maybe the flipping thing is a bit of an exaggeration.
Still, our Ninja Warrior instructor was absolutely amazing. Very patient and able to coach each person through the course regardless of their level. Every step was broken down and everyone managed to tackle each section. Even Tom, who has been free-running since he was a teenager, enjoyed the session and was given a bit of leeway to do his own thing as well. The class was thorough, but fast-paced and we got time at the end to practice on our own.
Although there was a lot of stopping and starting, it was a decent workout. Not one for those who prefer sweaty, breathless cardio-style classes, because it’s not done to time at all (unlike in the TV show). However the class was definitely taxing on the muscles and most of the obstacles required a huge amount of core strength and engagement. Both Tom and I were aching the next day, that’s for sure!
I wish that the class had been longer, because I felt at a bit of a loss during the subsequent open gym session. Having just conquered the Ninja Warrior obstacle course (and feeling like an absolute pro), is was disheartening (albeit very impressive) to then be surrounded by pros; trampolining, climbing and triple-backflipping into the foam pits. I think that if there had been more instructors on hand, perhaps, to help out any timid beginners that would have been a huge help.
As it was, I felt a bit to shy to practice on my own or try out anything that I had just learned because I felt like there was little encouragement from the other open-gymmers and that I would just be in someone’s way. The environment was almost hostile, which was disappointing having just experienced such a great class. According to Tom, this isn’t unusual in the free-running world.
Still, we had a great class and the instructors really know their stuff. It definitely makes for a fun and interesting evening if you want to experience a different side of New York! We left tired, happy and totally ready for pizza.