These members-only gyms feature a serious level of sophistication, displayed via a combination of top-notch equipment, training, and classes, and abundant amenities—from thermal heat lounges to private showers, laundry service and sweating in view of original art.
Here's your inside look at the seven swankiest gyms in New York. —Lisa Elaine Held
Photo: Setai Club & Spa
The Core Club isn't just a gym; it's a fully loaded social club for the super rich. But if you're a member, you get access to its fitness facility, headed up by one of Madonna's most recent trainers du jour, model-actor-trainer Josh Holland. You can walk by a Warhol on your way to getting sweaty, and hit the sauna or steam room after—or take advantage of spa treatments. It also houses a restaurant, screening room, terrace lounge, and barbershop. Unsurprisingly, hedge fund bigwigs are its most talked about members. www.thecoreclub.com
Within Equinox's Columbus Circle flagship is an exclusive zone, E, where a small group of invitation-only members work out with the highest level trainers, on equipment used by professional athletes. When they show up to sweat, freshly-laundered workout clothes are waiting for them, and after, they can freshen up in private shower and changing cabanas before grabbing fresh fruit and Fiji water in the lounge. Another bonus: E members get an all-access pass to any Equinox in the country, so while they may miss the luxuries of their home club, they can still get a work out in while jet-setting. www.equinox.com
This gorgeous, Frank Gehry-designed facility is hidden beneath the Plaza Hotel and was founded by celebrity trainer Pat Manocchia. (The fitness brainiac formerly trained Madonna and Julia Roberts, whom he also dated, and is BFFs with Howard Stern.) La Palestra's approach is integrative, melding the fitness and medical worlds. So in addition to trainers and massage therapists, members also meet with internists, orthopedists, and psychologists—to address their wellness needs holistically. And privacy is paramount (no Paparazzi allowed), with room-dividing dumbbell racks so no one can see you grimacing and individual bathrooms with showers and dressing rooms. www.lapalestra.com
At David Kirsch's private gym, you may share treadmill space with Heidi Klum or a slew of Victoria's Secret models. Instead of a cold, sterile environment, the club feels like a cozy living room, thanks to oriental rugs and ornate mirrors. "I didn't want it to look, smell, or feel like a gym," Kirsch has said. Members get access to Kirsch's high-level brand of training (sessions with the man himself are extra, and difficult to come by), the best equipment, a juice bar that serves his smoothies, juices, and supplements, as well as laundry services. www.davidkirschwellness.com
The Setai is just a few steps away from the Stock Exchange, so many of its members hail from Wall Street. Premium members visit the fitness center to work out on ergonomically advanced equipment and take yoga and Pilates classes. After, they head to the AquaGrotto, a thermal heat lounge with a mineral pool Jacuzzi, aromatherapy steam room, and Finish sauna. Also included? Workout gear, heated shaving cream, discounts on spa services, and complimentary breakfast at The Exchange Grill. Like the Core Club, there are also benefits outside the gym, like concierge services, a private members lounge, and exclusive events. www.setaiclubnewyork.com
The New York Times called Sitaras the place where "business titans work out," as evidenced by high-profile members like George Soros, David Geffen, and Paul Volcker. Members (which Sitaras caps at 200) undergo six hours of mandatory testing to join, and a software program helps trainers design a personalized program for each. The philosophy comes from founder John Sitaras' super scientific approach to fitness. And the duplex facility includes giant terrazzo shower stalls and a 3,000-square-foot landscaped terrace for lounging. www.sitarasinc.com
If $20,000 per year sounds like a tad too much for you, there are a few luxe options that are much gentler on the wallet.
The 80,000-square-foot Mercedes Club opened in Hell's Kitchen last year, with a packed group fitness schedule, indoor and outdoor pools, a bocce ball court, putting green, and outdoor decks for lounging. And yet somehow its highest membership level, which includes a dedicated locker, laundry service, and spa discounts, is priced at just $179 a month.
And Reebok Sports Club/NY (Upper West Side) and its sister club The Sports Club/LA (Upper East Side) are both giant, gorgeous facilities with some of the best classes on the scene. And membership (starting at about $225) comes with amenities like swimming pools, rock climbing walls, basketball courts, and roof decks for summer sunning.
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