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Yoga to the People Is The Best Fitness Deal You’ll Find in NYC

This exercise review is week three of a six-week series where the author discusses her experiences, both good and bad, at popular NYC fitness classes. Her sweaty struggle saves you money if the class isn’t more than moldy yoga mats in a humid basement, or will be your pocket guide to collegiate-approved sweat sessions.

           Let’s be clear here, I am not a “yoga person.” Case and point: the last two times I attempted to find my “zen” atop the squishy mats, I was thrown out of the class – literally escorted out – because I couldn’t hold it together when the group-breathing started going down. But honestly, who can keep from snorting and falling out of her Warrior Two pose when the woman dressed all in fluorescent pink next to them is scream-breathing “HA” “ HA” “EOH?” It’s hilarious, and it seems like a skit from Inside Amy Schumer (which, by the way, is now a free skit idea for Amy Schumer, who I am confident is reading this post). But I digress. This week, I put aside my feelings about the silliness of yoga for you collegiates and headed to the 38th street Yoga to the People Studio.

         The studio is near every New Yorker’s nightmare – Times Square – and I am proud to say that I only swatted one creepy Spiderman on the way through tourist paradise. The 38th street studio is near a nail salon, and a bit hidden, so keep an eye out for it and don’t be tempted by the Baskin Robbins literally 10 feet away (that Oreo Ice Cream, though). I headed up to the studio on the second floor and was immediately greeted by a blast of heat the equivalent of opening your car door if it had been parked in the Sahara Desert for a week. I immediately thought I walked into some portal to Arizona until I noticed the sign on the door, “Hot Vinyasa Yoga.” Ya’ll, I’m from New Hampshire. Give me 20 below wind-chill and I will happily unfreeze my car engine for 20 minutes and pray I don’t get frostbite on the way to Dunkin Donuts. I do not do heat. So for anyone as heat adverse as I am: the 38th street YTP studio is mainly a Hot Yoga Studio, which means you will be Sunset Salutation-ing in a climate of about 100 degrees. If you have sensitivity to high heat, and are not just a whiner like me, check out one of the other studios!

         I channeled my inner yogi for the sake of research, and instead of running away to my air-conditioned apartment, I charged into the studio. The “getting ready” area is quite small and I would highly recommend switching into workout clothes beforehand. I went up to the attendant to pay for the class ($5) and she very sweetly explained to me that I would need a towel ($2 rental) to keep from slipping on my mat (see: insane amounts of sweat) and told me a bit about Vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga is all about the flow between poses, not the faster Power Yoga where each move is done more abruptly. I was hoping flow meant less difficult as I trotted over to the back and lay my mat down. I was a bit early, which I highly recommend for those who want to hide in the back or even get a spot, so I had the chance to creep on everyone else in the class (which I know we all do – don’t hide it).

        Word to the wise: DO NOT wear your sneakers onto the yoga floor. For some reason, one of the two instructors thinks that your sneakers will turn the floor to hot lava, causing the death of all and the demolition of the kale crops. I have never been so sternly told to take off my footwear in my life. Needless to say, spandex girl teacher was on my bad list and I only listened to bearded hipster male teacher for the rest of the class (and people say I hold grudges).

         With Sneaker-Gate of 2015 behind us, I sat down and eyed the other people in the class. As it was the studio closest to Times Square, I sensed some serious Broadway dancer vibes, as well as the standard super-fit people present in yoga classes. The class was a bit intimidating before it began, with all of the other people casually chilling on their mats while I was trying to figure out what to do with my sweat towel. I figured out the best place to put it was on the front of the mat, folded in half so that it catches all of your glistening and you don’t slip.

         Once the class started I was so focused on myself that I really didn’t notice what everyone else was doing. The class was at a level even yoga-dweebs like me can do, as long as you modify some poses and take breaks because it is centered on combinations with widely known yoga poses like downward dog. It was definitely hot, like sweating through all of my clothes hot, but I really tried to engage with the calming music and rhythm of the instructors’ voices and not laugh at the sculpted-by-the-gods man next to me doing his hilarious breathing.

         The class was about an hour, and although I won’t say it went by quickly or was extremely easy, I felt a bit more relaxed when we ended with child’s pose. As is the case with most New Yorkers, my mind is  constantly running like a marathoner during the last .2 miles, but Yoga to the People made it slow to someone in the first week of a “Couch to 5-K” training plan. And honestly, anything that can make my brain go a bit slower and just enjoy the moment is an amazing thing, so I ammend you, Yoga to the People, funny breathing and all. I will definitely be seeing you again on 38th street in all of my sweaty glory.

More tips:

  • Bring your own mat! With all the sweating, it would be pretty gross to use a studio one
  • Drink TONS of water throughout the day to keep hydrated
  • Make sure to take it easy for a couple hours afterward to avoid feeling light-headed from all of the fluid loss
  • You don’t have to register beforehand, but if you want a good spot come early or to one of the sessions at stranger, less-attended times during the day

For more info on Yoga to the People:  http://yogatothepeople.com/new-york/38th-street/schedule-fees/ 

Image credit: @Yogatothepeople/Instagram (2)

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