Empowerment Through Fitness

Empowerment Through Fitness

New York City women are leading a revolution in fitness. They’ve transformed exercise from a culture of loss, with magazines constantly reminding us of the need to sweat our way to that prized bikini body, to one of gain. We now work out to build strength, to increase flexibility, to push our bodies and minds further than we believe we can and to foster camaraderie with other women on the same journey. In today’s fitness world, feeling exhilarated and empowered trumps all else—every body type is celebrated.

Standing in tree pose at Studio 450.

More than 100 leading women in the local health and wellness scene, including nutritionists, bloggers, journalists and some of my favorite fitness instructors, recently gathered at Studio 450 in Manhattan in effort to promote the connection between fitness and female empowerment. The theme was Linked Not Ranked, a term inspired by feminist Gloria Steinem’s dream of a world in which women become allies (linked) rather than competition (ranked). Natalia Petrzela of intenSati introduced the experience with a motivational talk on the history of fitness for women. We hit the mat in stylish leggings (made in NYC) from athleisure brand Terez and built some serious sweat in a special session of The Class by Taryn Toomey, then shared our hopes for the future of fitness in a moving wrap-up session, guided by Patricia Moreno (also of intenSati). These influencers expressed their desire for a world in which bodies were celebrated for what they can do, rather than how they look; women lift each other up and celebrate sisterhood; and that inner voice is no longer saying the women around us are prettier, younger, or more successful—instead, it encourages us and reminds us that we are perfect as we are. 

The entire experience reinvigorated my love for movement. Working out is a passion I only discovered a year and a half ago, when I started attending fitness classes around Manhattan. This type of exercise was nothing like what I endured as a kid in gym classes in public school. I went from hating movement to craving a workout after a day at the office and feeling thrilled at the new ways my body was learning to move. Working out has strengthened not only my body, but also my levels of discipline and motivation—qualities I carry both in and out of the studio. I never thought I’d become a person who loves this kind of body work, and I have the dedicated instructors around New York City to thank. 

Ready to join this movement? Here are three of the most powerful fitness classes to try in New York City:

The Class by Taryn Toomey: Shake, pulse and bounce your way to new strength in a 75-minute class. Set to heart-pumping music, The Class takes women through movements that challenge the body and the mind, with the goal of releasing stagnant emotions and unveiling positive change in the body, mind and heart. 

CrossFlowX: Yoga meets HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in this sweat party, which will exhaust your body and fill you with optimism. Expect rigorous core work, playful inversions, intense yoga kriyas and a heavy emphasis on the breath and spirit. 

Shrink Session: Movement unites with positive intentions in this cardio-dance class, featuring elements of kickboxing and yoga. Instructors lead recitals of empowering mantras while you tone every muscle in your body.