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New York's Best Punk Rock Workouts, from Yoga to Spin

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Even if your style is more Doc Martens than "Just Do It," you've just run out of excuses to skip the gym. An increasing number of gyms, studios and even bars are starting to offer classes that kick aside the usual pop blare or EDM thump in favor of old-school punk shouters.  From yoga to spin to aerobics, there's a class for every fitness level and music preference from the dark swirl of Goth to the blood-pumping jams of CBGB's.  We recently talked to some of the city's most badass instructors about what their uniquely hardcore workouts.

What inspired your classes?

Haley De Groat, Blitzkrieg Bod: "I think everybody should be able to get fit if they want to," says De Groat, "even the misfits." Describing her classes as "more rock, fewer rolls," she offers a challenging workout in the back of Bushwick's Cobra Club every Friday night at 7pm. Plus, when you're done sweating it all out, the bar in the front offers you a chance to throw one back, since each class comes with a free drink.

Cobra Club, 6 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, Friday nights at 7pm, $16, (price includes one free well drink or beer after class, 21+).

Tim Haft, Punk Rope and MoshFit: An early impresario of the punk workout movement, Haft was inspired to create classes ten years ago around alternative music, since he recognized a gap between rockers and fitness freaks and it occurred to him personally that "the thought of going in to a fitness class and listening to Top 40 was about as attractive as going to the dentist." His workouts are intended depart from the usual gym fare with their emphasis on  "community oriented," "creative" and "fun."

See website for times, rates and locations.
Michael Macneal, MonsterCycle: As part of the muscle behind the downtown powerhouse spin emporium, Macneal opens up his "dungeon" cycling studios to monthly punk, Goth and dark pop-themed rides. For him, developing these classes was both about having fun and responding to his students. "All classes are run by the music, so we just embraced the fact that we have a more alternative scene."  Fueled by loud music and videos on the monitors, instructors whip up the energy like rock stars with call and response instruction.

Monster Cycle, 182 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013, (646) 692-4703, see website for times, rates and themes.

Brian Williams, Punk Yoga: Williams' "Deep Core Yoga" takes place every Wednesday at Human@Ease in Greenpoint at 8pm. A departure from the more New Age "yogi-er than thou" practice, Williams encourages students to "everyone to leave their other shit for an hour, and be here," in a way that's less about the music genre and more about the philosophy.  Much like punk, "Yoga," he says "is really a DIY practice."

Human@Ease, 31 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

What can students expect in your classes?

Haley De Groat: De Groat's says her classes offer a challenging workout based on high-intensity interval training (a.k.a. HIIT). After "murdering" calories, she'll cool you down with some yoga-based floor work. "It's a total body conditioning class," she warns "and those strength moves are going to make you sore the next day!" However, to mix things up and keep them fun, she'll also throw in themes, including a, upcoming "'beach party' with surf punk once a month through the summer."

Tim Haft: Haft's PunkRope classes have attracted a devoted cult following by combining drills, jump rope, and high-intensity movements that burn a "sh*t ton of calories." His MoshFit forgo classes the ropes and pare it down to "just your body" for a calisthenics-based program that builds muscle and burns calories.  Just started in February of this year, they take place in the back of the East Village tiki bar, Otto's Shrunken Head, and cap off the sweat-fest with a happy hour.

Michael Macneal: As co-owner of the cutting edge Soho spin studio, Macneal's "rides" pair a rock show vibe with the hottest trend in workouts.  The difference between Monster workouts and other gyms, he says is their emphasis on actually using the potential of the bike rather than on any choreography.  "We offer a real workout," he explains, "there's no jumping, there's no tap backs, there's no pushups on the handlebars -- it's a real ride." Playfully adding, "It gets hot down there, people are screaming; it's an experience!"

Brian Williams: "Expect to sweat," Williams warns, "Expect to work really hard, be challenged, probably hate me for part of class, but hopefully love me later. " After a breath work warm up, students are put through a "flowing series of movements, some of which will look familiar from other classes, and some will definitely not. The movements are pretty muscular, strong, not all willowy."  Although he sometimes teaches the class without any music, Williams has even invited guest live musicians from time to time to get things moving.

What's song (or songs) gets your personal workouts going?

Haley de Groat: "Probably 'Personality Crisis' by the New York Dolls, 'Alternative Ulster' by Stiff Little Fingers, or 'O Bondage, Up Yours!' by X-Ray Spex!"

Tim Haft: "It would probably change every day, but I would have to say 'Suspect Device' by Stiff Little Fingers."

Michael Maclean: "It's 'Push It' by Garbage. It's the first video that made me love music videos—there's zombie children; there's a man with a light bulb for a head, they're in a cemetery, there's Siamese twins naked in a grocery store."

Brian Williams: "Nina Hagen is fun to practice yoga to. My Bloody Valentine will almost always make it onto any class mix I create-—one time we did a class to the entire Loveless album."