Baseball, football, soccer – what is that? You want to stay fit and have some fun but you’re not interested in possibly losing an eye, breaking a fingernail or chipping a tooth. Well then, you might want to find a giant bubble to call home because the following list of ten alternative sport and fitness activities are not any less challenging or strenuous than your usual games. They are, however, activities you’re not always going to find at the gym, YMCA or local park. Gather your gear and your nerve and prepare for a walk off the beaten path. – By Nicola A. Menzie
Riding the ferries or water taxis to and from work can surely be no substitute for drifting on a gentle breeze through the waters of the Atlantic on a calm, clear day. If you’ve never really taken the time to enjoy the view and think a knot only involves tying a tie, some sailing lessons may be in order.
Manhattan Sailing School
385 South End Ave #6H
New York, NY 10280
Buzz: hands-on experience on a personal level with classes running through October from three locations (Manhattan, Hoboken and Jersey City) all for the “crazy low price” of $390
Offshore Sailing School
23rd Street and the Hudson River
New York, N.Y. 10011
Liberty Landing Marina, 80 Audrey Zapp Drive
Jersey City, N.J. 07305
Buzz: conducts classes at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers and in Jersey City and offers full certification as well simple deals for those who just want to get a taste of sailing on the open sea (or Hudson River); prices start at $395 and discounts are available if you come with a friend or even a child (minimum age is 10).
Many of these groups offer club post-lesson access options to help you keep up with what may turn out to be your new favorite activity.
If sailing on the open seas doesn’t get you close enough to the water then you may want to reach out to surfing groups and organizations that can get you equipped to go one-on-one with the waves.
New York Surf School
192 Beach 92nd Street
Rockaway Beach, N.Y.11693
Buzz: based at Boarders Surf Shop in Rockaway Beach, offers lessons for $55 per hour in a “healthy, positive environment” and provides all the necessary equipment
1 Lincoln Boulevard
Long Beach, N.Y. 11561
Buzz: family-run since the 1970s, conducts lessons in Long Beach and Rockaway Beach for $75 (semi-private lessons)
Both NY Surf School and Skudin Surf are about an hour away from Manhattan (if leaving from Penn Station on the LIRR)
Robin Hood won’t have anything on you after a few lessons at Pro Line Archery Lanes, Inc. or Queens Archery – no green tights required!
39th Avenue & 171st Street
Queens, N.Y. 11358
Buzz: rates start at $18
Pro Line Archery Lanes
95-11 101 Avenue
Ozone Park, N.Y. 11416
Buzz: rates start at $13 ($5 for those under 16 and those over 65)
Archery may turn out to be your sport but, despite the economic climate, we do not recommend rounding up a group of merry men to rob anything.
Others: New York City Archery Group
New Yorkers are well attuned to this Eastern tradition of spiritual and physical composure but it isn’t all about stretching and breathing and sitting with your legs crossed – there is a group in the City that does it completely in the nude and another focused on helping you find inner peace by yukking it up.
Naked Yoga NYC
Buzz: students, taught in small groups for a fee of $25, are instructed to wear clothing to the yoga studio, come freshly showered and to refrain from touching others during the session… of course
1420 Broadway, #1107
New York, N.Y. 10018
Buzz: no tricks, no tickling, no alcohol and no jokes, the group promises on its website
New York Circus Arts
5321 Vernon Boulevard
New York, N.Y. 11101
Buzz: classes like Trampoline and Tumbling, Flying Trapeze and Juggling to choose from and each runs for six weeks at $265 and up (or $50 and up for a single class)
Trapeze School of New York
518 West 30th Street
New York, N.Y. 10001
Buzz: classes, held indoor and outdoor at three NYC locations, are two hours long and start at $47
Who knows, you may finally get the opportunity to run away with the circus
Others: Coney Island Sideshow School (classes include Fire Eating and Breathing, Sword Swallowing, Bed of Nails and other painful arts), Hollywood Stunts (learn fake fighting, running through “glass,” falling from “towers”)
If you get thrilled at the thought of possibly seeing your life flash before your eyes in eight to ten seconds (yes, that’s all long it takes), then there’s a bull in NYC with your name on it.
133 Essex Street
New York, N.Y. 10002
Buzz: a southern style bar/restaurant, charges $5 per ride in a padded and fenced-in bull arena
25 West 51st Street
New York, N.Y.
Buzz: very proud of their 300-pound, 6-foot bull, hosts weekly competitions and invites any cowboy and cowgirl 18 and older to get their buck on for free
Viva El Toro
188 Berry Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211
Buzz: name means “long live the bull,” patrons can hop on (and crawl away from) mechanical for free
40-05 Bell Boulevard
Bayside, N.Y. 11361
Buzz: sober patrons can saddle up for free
You may be thinking, I’ve heard of handball (racquetball without the racket) and stickball (like baseball with a skinny bat), but what the heck is team handball? Glad you asked. Team handball, part of the Olympics since the 70s, is a sport played by two opposing teams composed of seven players who battle to score by hurling a ball about the size of a honeydew melon or coconut pass the opposing team’s goalie into the net. The ball is dribbled like in basketball and thrown like in football, and players jostle each like in hockey.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, getting a membership with the New York City Team Handball Club may be a good place to start (http://www.newyorkcityteamhandball.com).
If old school handball is more you’re thing, Inner City Handball Association (http://www.icha.org/index.cfm) offers membership for $35. Of course, you can always pick up a game in any borough (https://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/handball); Ditto for stickball:
This would require a little commitment as well as a helmet and mouth guard, so if you want to play it safe you might be better off finding a nice, quiet place to skate the night (or afternoon) away. If, however, you’re looking for some competitive, heart-stopping action (or a little buzz) roller derby might be more sport.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Buzz: just for women
Long Island Roller Rebel
Buzz: women only
New York Shock Exchange
Buzz: men only
If you’re more comfortable gliding in-line, sign up for Adult Hockey Prep classes at Chelsea Piers (http://www.chelseapiers.com) which cost $50/$500 per class/semester.
You can pick up a game at any of the roller hockey rinks in New York City’s parks (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/hockey) or join a MeetUp group like The New York Roller Skating/Rollerblading Group (http://www.meetup.com/rollerskating-32) and Westside Rollerbladers (http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Rollerbladers).
Buzz: If going in circles or getting competitive is not your style, there’s always the Lezly Skate School where you can learn to get artsy with your skates for as low as $25 per class: http://www.skateguru.com.
Boot camps aren’t just for unruly youth or GI Joes and Janes anymore. Urban workouts, as they are sometimes called, are for those looking to break a sweat beyond the confines of a gym, so if the dumb bells and bench press just don’t do it for you anymore check out these alternatives.
Buzz: specific classes for moms and gay men, etc. , held mostly in Manhattan parks (one in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park) for around $300
Captain Quinn’s Fitness Boot Camp
Buzz: held at two Brooklyn locations at the cost of $10 per hour-long session
Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp
Buzz: an one-hour class that takes students across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, kicking their butts along the way; classes are $20 ($15 for first-timers) and are varied depending on your needs (expect to pay more for some programs, one of which is also held in Central Park)
This Afro-Brazilian tradition combines martial arts and dance accented with music that gives the impression of fluid acrobatic play – but it can get rough (with headbutts, elbowing and body throws, for example). There are several locations across the boroughs that teach the ancient art form.
Capoeira Angola Center
140 West 14th Street
New York, N.Y. 10011
Buzz: classes are $15-$20 per session
New York Capoeira @ The Ailey School
405 West 55th Street
New York, N.Y. 10019
Buzz: single classes are $17, discount for multiple classes
35 West 31st Street, 6th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10001
Buzz: $20 for a single class, monthly packages available
Capoeira Angola Palmares
Arrow Park Community Center
35-50 35th Street
Astoria, N.Y. 11106
Fitness Point Gym
25-14 34th Avenue
Astoria, N.Y. 11106
Buzz: $15 per class, free for participants who have Arrow Park Community Center membership
Raizes do Brasil
347 Flatbush Avenue, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238
Buzz: single classes are $20, 10-class card is $180; private instruction also available
What did we leave out? Give your own recommendations for alternative sports and fitness activities by leaving a comment below.