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Boutique Fitness Boom Offers Rowing, Cycling and Baby Friendly Training

By Meredith Hoffman | April 24, 2013 8:15am

WILLIAMSBURG — When fitness buff Josh Ozeri moved to Williamsburg four years ago, his search for an inspiring exercise spot felt fruitless.

"There was nothing in the area where you could really enjoy and appreciate working out...there was just one gym and it wasn't that nice," recalled Ozeri, 25, remarking on the influx of health stores and gyms in the neighborhood. "Now the joke is that the skinny hipster is becoming the super athletic hipster."

Ozeri and several other fitness entrepreneurs have all suddenly seized on Williamsburg's increasingly health-conscious vibe this spring, opening a cluster of boutique studios within blocks of one another off the Bedford L subway station. 

"Just walk along Kent Avenue and you see tons of cyclists and runners...a lot of serious triathletes are here," Ozeri said, and noted that health-focused juice bars like Tiny Empire and a soon-to-open Juice Press spoke to local values. "Williamsburg is turning into something similar to where I went to school in Boulder, Colorado."

New studios:

Brooklyn Crew, 20 Broadway

Self-proclaimed as NYC's first indoor rowing gym, Brooklyn Crew is the brainchild of Ozeri and his college friend Robert Minucci, who opened the studio just last week. 

"It's like a spinning class but we use rowers, in the sense that it's coaching-driven and high-intensity and cardio based," Ozeri said of rowing sessions. "You never stop moving...There's nothing that compares with this from a cross-training perspective."

The 45-minute classes include music, "rowing mantras" and expert teachers who have spent years coaching on the water — and there's an element of "drama," Ozeri said, since crew is "a very tough sport and very taxing on the body."

One class is $38, a five-class pass is $185 and a ten-class pack is $360 — but first-time students get their inaugural session for $25, the studio's website says.

"I started rowing after I graduated and I got engulfed in the rowing community," Ozeri said of the group Row New York based at the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse in Washington Heights. "I met bunch of great coaches who are what drive Brooklyn Crew." 

Brooklyn Bodyburn, 32 N. 6th St.

Former ballerina Tracy Carlinsky brought the LA-originated "MegaFormer," a cross-training machine with springs and pulleys created by fitness guru Sebastien Lagree, to her new Brooklyn Bodyburn studio at the Williamsburg waterfront's Edge condos two months ago. 

"It encourages maximum exertion and allows the body to shift quickly and smoothly from one exercise to the next while working both the upper and lower body and maintaining an increased heart rate at fat-burning cardio levels," Carlinsky said of the machine, which students use in 50-minute classes. "All muscle groups are worked to fatigue to achieve maximum muscle definition in a non-aggressive, non-impact manner."

Carlinsky, who said when she moved to Brooklyn from LA she needed to bring the workout with her, has even started offering "baby friendly" classes in the 10-machine studio.

"Moms don't have to worry about getting a nanny in order to work out," she said. "The babies hang in their carriage as they watch their mom burn it out on the machine!"

One class is $33, a five-class pass is $160 and a ten-class pack is $295, the studio's website says.

"I love Brooklyn because it's close to the city but still has a neighborhood vibe. The one thing I didn't like was the lack of fitness studios!" Carlinsky said. "I didn’t see why all of the Brooklynites needed to travel into the city to work out."

Sync Studio, 133 S. 2nd St.

After Sync Studio had a successful start in Durham, N.C., owner Ashley Lively leapt to New York for expansion to Williamsburg, where she was shocked no other indoor cycling studios existed. 

"We offer [indoor cycling], yoga and circuit training," Lively, 26, said in the pristine wooden space furnished by the nearby Brooklyn Reclamation. "It seemed like a natural fit here...It seemed strange there weren't any cycling studios around."

Two other indoor cycling studios are opening nearby in the next few months, but Sync's specialty is its holistic combination of cardio and yoga, Lively said.

A one-day pass, which includes unlimited classes, is $25, and until June students can purchase two-week passes for $35, Lively said.

SoulCycle, 184 Kent Ave.

This high-end indoor cycling chain plans to open in the next few months on the Williamsburg waterfront, where classes will be offered from the wee morning hours until late at night, a company representative recently said at a Williamsburg Community Board 1 meeting.

The giant new space will offer sessions at the same price as other city SoulCycles, at $34, the representative said.

Torque Cycling and Fitness, 74 N. 8th St.

This indoor cycling studio also plans to open this summer, but it hasn't yet released any information about details of rates or classes.