New York Times: Would You Like a Cocktail With That Workout?

From The New York Times:

At first glance, the dimly lighted space on 20th Street in the Flatiron district on a recent Saturday night could have been any New York nightclub. There’s a clipboard-wielding bouncer in front of a velvet rope, a live D.J. spinning a “Lady Marmalade” remix, and a line to get in. But look more closely: The D.J.’s turntable is perched on a dozen step-aerobics risers, the crowd is dressed in exercise gear, and the buff bouncer, who has the body fat of a Diet Coke, is asking, “Do you have any injuries?”

This is the gym-as-nightclub, where the shots are antioxidant, the highs are exercise-induced — and no one sweats being denied entry for wearing sneakers. The perspiration, of course, comes once inside. The gym (in this case Barry’s Bootcamp) calls the event a “dance party,” but it’s actually the Kim Kardashian-beloved — and lacerating — mix of treadmill sprints and toning, this one held at 7 p.m. on Saturday and spiced up with an ’80s-style theme, with mirrored disco balls and a pair of go-go dancers clad in fluorescent spandex gyrating on a step-aerobics bench.

Plenty of people forgo happy hour to fit in exercise, but now gyms are making it so that clients don’t have to choose. They’re offering evening workouts — some as late as midnight — featuring bubble machines, party favors and chances to mingle, platonically or otherwise. Case in point: Joey Gonzalez, the dance party’s instructor, makes sure to include an abdominal exercise that requires a partner. “If there’s someone you’ve got your eye on, now’s your moment,” he half-jokes when introducing it.

Party workouts, as many of them are called, attract a range of fans, including gym regulars warding off workout ennui and recent transplants to New York who don’t want to try to strike up friendships in bars. They also lure time-crunched young professionals who have outgrown the club scene — but whose idea of a good night out is a little racier than dinner and a movie.

“When things get crazy, my workout is what always falls through the cracks,” said Denise Kreft, 30, a beauty publicist and former clubgoer who’s now a regular at SoulCycle’s Friday night ride in Union Square.

“But this is like a show, a party and a way to burn a ton of calories all in one,” Ms. Kreft said. “And it’s the same price as a couple of glasses of wine.”


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