With the classpass price hike in NYC, an unlimited membership now runs a steep $190. When this news initially dropped, tons of NYC classpass-ers said they’d quit and join Equinox, but I get the feeling this was done in more of an “if XYZ person becomes president, I’m moving to Canada” sort of way in which nobody follows through unless Donald Trump gets elected which is absolutely terrifying. Regardless, I finally decided to look into my options and see what else is out there for a class aficionado like me.
I decided to email the Equinox studio near my office and meet with a membership consultant during my lunch break, and ya boi Kevin hooked me up with a three-day trial to review Equinox clubs, facilities, and–most importantly– classes. Here’s what went down.
Over the course of three days, I went to three Equinox studios (Soho, E. 53rd Street, E. 92nd Street), and they really do live up to the hype. Each of the aforementioned studios are multilevel havens, complete with lounges, weight rooms, yoga studios (including hot yoga at some locations), group exercise studios, spin studios, locker rooms filled with towels/razors/ Kiehl’s products, steam rooms where you don’t need flip-flops because rich people don’t get athlete’s foot, juice bars (not free, but still dope), and cold lavender mini-towels for after your workout. These clubs are massive and I definitely got some weird “you-must-be-new”stares as I explored the different features on each level of the club.
drink the Kool-Aid buy into the multi-club membership, some of the gyms have pools, sun decks on the roof, and even a rock climbing wall. You’re basically on a cruise with only really hot and fit people (vs. my last cruise experience, which was a mix of fratstars and old folks from flyover states). Also, there are clubs all over Manhattan and a few in Brooklyn, so you won’t spend hours upon hours hopping to different studios (one of my qualms with Classpass).
One of the main perks of an Equinox membership compared to Classpass is that if you get to your class early, you can work out in the main cardio or weights area rather than just sitting and killing time. Since it’s been years since I created my own free-weight workout routine, I opted for the elliptical for about 30 min before each of my classes– 10/10 would rotate legs in a weird, unnatural motion again.
As a dance and barre fanatic, I had to check out one of each of these classes to see if they were up to snuff compared to my go-to spots such as DanceBody and Physique 57. I decided to take Cardio Dance Club, EQX Barre Burn, and Gold Barre–overall a solid representation of what I’m looking for.
- Cardio Dance Club – I purposely looked for a class that was more dance aerobics than choreography class (Equinox seems to offer a surprising number of choreography classes). At the risk of being blunt, I was really unhappy with this class. It basically consisted of follow-along choreography, but the moves were intricate enough that a breakdown would’ve been really helpful. There were lots of moves facing the back of the room, and the instructor didn’t move back there for us to follow her, either. I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out the moves rather than actually dancing and getting a cardio workout. Further, the choreography itself had more of a hip-hop flair than indicated–again, this would be cool if it was what I was looking for and knew what I was getting into. It’s really not hard to write an accurate class description, and as a result of the misleading class name, I ended up disliking my workout. After all, if I wanted overly complex hip-hop choreography while surrounded by pretentious-looking hotties, I’d just go to Broadway Dance Center.
- EQX Barre Burn – This is Equinox’s answer to the barre fitness craze. I took a 6:15 class in midtown and the studio was absolutely PACKED, so this is clearly one of their popular offerings. The only kicker is that the studio (and most Equinox studios, really) didn’t have a barre, so students used weighted barbells for support. Now, don’t get me wrong–you can get a great barre workout in the center of the floor, but it’s nice to at least have the option to use the barre for exercises such as chair and fold-over, especially when you’re paying big bucks. Overall, this class was a mix of some barre moves (pulses in plie, second position), some more standard training moves (lots of squats!), and some ballet.
- Gold Barre – Gold Barre is Equinox’s newest barre offering and basically meshes barre with ice skating moves. This class was held in a room with actual barres! which was huge after the previous day’s makeshift barre class. This was a really cool offering and I reviewed it in more detail here.
barbells used in the “EQX Barre Burn” class.
- Emily Naim – taught Cardio Dance Club; also teaches barre. As much as I didn’t like the format of this class, she was a lot of fun, kept the energy up, and had a great personality. I’d definitely take a different class of hers.
- Emma Rivera – taught EQX Barre Burn. She was more of a calm and focused instructor, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. She kept the class motivated and went around to make adjustments, which was great.
- Khaleah London – taught Gold Barre; also teaches Pilates. Kept the class motivated.
- Misc. trainers – were wandering around the gym at any given time and at one point asked if I was lost.
This is the most expensive full-service gym in NYC. With that comes a certain type of clientele–people who are loaded, people who are really serious about fitness, and people who are really attractive. I saw lots of crazy hot people and lots of expensive workout gear. As noted above, I was definitely intimidated here, especially in the weights area, which was filled with bros and preppy dudes. Soho was the most intimidating club of the three I visited (not surprising). That said, it looked like a lot of members were friendly with each other and with the staff at the clubs; one woman in the locker room even introduced herself to a new cleaning lady. The 92nd street club was a bit of a younger crowd, in my opinion.
Single club membership varies by club but seems to average at a bit under $200. Multi-club membership is more expensive. Key takeaway: if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Because I’m a barre snob and I have a few favorite boutique studios that I don’t want to give up, I decided that it’s worth it for me to stay on Classpass at this time. However, this decision was more difficult than I’d anticipated because everything was so damn luxurious! If you’re fed up with Classpass prices, not married to any studios, enjoy mixing up your workouts, and enjoy fancy-ass stuff, this is your home. On the flip side, if you’re really into one or two types of classes and have favorite studios, it might not be worth the switch. I knew that joining Equinox would use up my entire (already large, IMO) fitness budget, and the thought of never being able to afford Physique 57 or DanceBody ever again was just tragic. But if I ever get sick of those studios…you know where to find me.
All images pulled from Equinox’s website.