Sometimes it seems like a new fitness studio opens in New York every week — or at least every month. In February, Balance.Yoga.Barre, a hot yoga and barre studio hailing from Oklahoma, made its New York City debut. Offering a free first class, this yoga studio has also been spreading the word by providing deals on Groupon and Gilt City. Since I never say no to a free class, I decided to give them a try. While a nice change from my normal Equinox routine, I feel that Balance.Yoga.Barre may still have a few kinks to work out.
QUALITY OF WORKOUT: 7
For some context, I do yoga about once or twice a week, in the context of a routine that incorporates circuit training and cardio. Typically, one of these yoga classes is Serena Tom’s Hot Athletic Yoga, which incorporates elements of HIIT and core conditioning into an intense Ashtanga-inspired flow. In short, I’m accustomed to sweating A LOT in my hot Vinyasa practice. So when I arrived at Balance.Yoga.Barre for the crowded 10:30 am Hot Vinyasa class last Friday, I picked one of the hottest spots in the room, near the front. The heat was definitely on point — I think it was around 95-100 degrees in the room, and even just sitting on my mat made me sweat.
That said, I didn’t get the greatest of workouts, from a pure fitness perspective. One reason was that the class started almost ten minutes late. Balance.Yoga.Barre has a very forgiving lateness policy and allows students to come in up to five minutes late. However, New Yorkers like me, who are focused and intense in the time that they set aside in a day to exercise, find these late arrivals to be very disruptive. As my constantly-late friend once told me, “Don’t judge people, since everyone has their own story.” While this may be true, I was still annoyed by the delay. As you’ll read below, I also felt that the level of the class was lower than what I would have liked.
That said, a 7 is still a good grade. The instructor was capable and positive, and I really appreciated her use of essential oils during savasana. The heat of the room also allowed for a great stretch, and I thought that the teacher used it effectively as a tool,
SIZE OF CLASS: large
It seemed like I wasn’t the only one who got the memo about the free first class. While 10:30 am doesn’t exactly seem like a peak time, the class was jam-packed. However, I credit the studio with capping the number of students at the right amount. There was always space to move in the room, and the number of students merely provided more energy.
The class was labelled for Levels 1-2, but I definitely felt that the instructor conducted it at a beginner level. Looking at one metric, I only burned about 150 calories during the course of this class, with only about 32 minutes spent in the fat burning heart rate zone. In comparison, I typically spend all of Hot Athletic Yoga in at least the fat burning zone, with a large percentage in the orange and red zones as well. And when I took Hot Vinyasa at Bode with my husband, I burned close to 200 calories, with 42 minutes spent in the fat burning zone or higher. Calories burned don’t tell you everything about a workout — I would be the first person to say this. But the instructor also spent a great deal of time explaining each asana. Wonderful for beginners, but less good if you are looking for a class with more of a flow.
STUDIO QUALITY: 7
This studio is located on 29th and 7th, close to Penn Station and some other attractions. The building is nondescript, but the studio is nice and open, with views of the street and avenue. My main point of contention here is the lack of showers, which seems rather ill-conceived in a hot yoga and barre studio. Personally, I would never be able to do a morning or lunchtime class here, when I’m guaranteed to break a sweat based only on the temperature in the room. The bathrooms are nice and on the larger side, but there are only two, so it doesn’t look like they would be great changing rooms during peak times.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Balance.Yoga.Barre is a nice addition to the workout scene west of Flatiron. The Hot Vinyasa class I took here was well-heated and well-taught. However, the lack of showers could pose serious problems to anyone planning to work out here before work or during a lunch break. Their lateness policy may also discourage more Type A people like me, who are not ok with a class starting ten minutes after its scheduled time. Also, know that the Level 1,2 classes seem to be very much targeted to beginners. If you’re new to yoga, that’s great! If you’re not, then you may want to pick a different class for more of a challenge.
- As always with hot yoga — water, water, and more water!
- The studio generously provides yoga mats. However, they’re not optimized for hot yoga. If you have your own hot yoga mat, I would recommend bringing it.
- Towel rentals cost $2. However, the towels are normal shower towels and not the grippy hot yoga ones. I would also recommend bringing your own if you have it.