Best of Manhattan 2023: Recreation & Fitness

| 12 Dec 2023 | 12:18




203 East 92nd Street


If no single gym is the best for everyone, but the years have proven that Equinox, in its many city locations, meets the needs of many Manhattanites. Sleek and modern, the East 92nd Street Equinox, in the heart of Carnegie Hill, includes five different studios, covering everything from yoga to pilates to cycling to dynamic movement and more. On any given week, there are hundreds of scheduled classes, including boxing and martial arts, as well as personal trainers available for more personal instruction. Hit the steam room afterwards for a winddown.


Momentum Fitness

246 Columbus Avenue


Founded by owner and personal trainer Marco Guanilo in 2010, Momentum prides itself on being a locally owned, “Mom & Pop” personal training and group fitness studio. To distinguish themselves from the big fitness chains, they take a holistic approach towards its members’ health, going beyond just getting in shape and consider diet and nutrition. Its small group classes (8-10 people max) include Sandbags & Kettle balls, boxing, yoga, pilates and cardio dance, while one-on-one personal training is available in a wide variety of styles including weights, TRX band and calisthenics training.


Chelsea Piers

Pier 60, Hudson River Greenway


Sometimes bigger is better and if you’re looking for one place where you can do nearly anything, Chelsea Piers—which dominates six blocks of the Hudson River waterfront—is an unrivaled destination. Here, in addition to all the usual fitness gym offerings, one can also swim, rock climb, hit the baseball batting cages or golf driving range, play basketball, soccer, tennis, sand volleyball, even the ever popular—and controversial!—game of pickleball. There are abundant options for kids sports, camps, and classes too.




Spear Physical Therapy

245 East 84th Street


Starting on the Upper East Side in 1999, Spear has grown into a metropolitan-area powerhouse, with more than twenty locations in Manhattan alone. Such a success story doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a system that works. Among Spear’s services are general physical therapy, occupational therapy, hand therapy, pelvic floor therapy, balance, golf swing and running form analysis, and massage therapy. Private pilates sessions are available at the E. 56th Street location.


Miccass Physical Therapy

246 Columbus Avenue


Whether it’s a shoulder impingement, a strained hamstring, plantar fasciitis or a whole host of other neuro-muscular ailments, Micass— a small practice that values personal attention—can almost certainly help you. Owner Jenny Chamoun is experienced in treating a wide range of post-surgical, degenerative, sports and orthopedic conditions. Among her current staff are Dr. Ogechi Nwaneri, a former All-American track athlete at Virginia Tech and Dr. Elizabeth Li, who knows not just the body but, as a LaGuardia High School graduate, the Upper West Side also.


Manhattan Sports & Manual Physical Therapy

10 E. 33rd Street


Nestled on the eastern edge of Koreatown, this impressive facility—which is part of the Hospital for Special Surgery rehabilitation network offers a wide range of services in an exceptionally caring environment. Open since 1998. Co-owners, Tsahi (Zack) Niv and Rami Jazrawi­­ both have doctorates, and Jazrawi is a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist by the American Physical Therapy Association, so the knowledge here starts at the top. Don’t let the “Sports” in their name be intimidating. Although their practice treats many athletes—including golfers, runners and tennis players— that same passion extends to other rehabilitation and pain management needs too.




East River Greenway

If you like a little urban grit—and adventure— while you’re shifting gears, the East River Greenway can’t be beat. Accessible at numerous points on the East Side, it extends, with great views, along the East and Harlem Rivers up to 125th Street. From here, intrepid riders can cross over the nearby Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx. For a shorter but still exciting jaunt, take the bike and pedestrian only Ward’s Island Bridge to Randall’s Island, a wonderland for exploration.


Hudson River Greenway

Pick it up wherever you like, the earlier in the morning—or further north—the better if you wish to avoid weekend crowds. While many cyclists use greenway as a funnel to Riverside Drive and/or the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey, we recommend continuing north where one can explore Fort Tyron, The Cloisters, and Hamilton Heights, while those who crave even more climbing can tackle the steep hills of Washington Heights, or even cross the Broadway Bridge into Marble Hill and the Bronx.


East River Greenway to Brooklyn

Just as many Brooklynites commute to Manhattan for work, so downtown cyclists should count Brooklyn among their regular cycling destinations. The ways to get there are manifold. The Brooklyn Bridge has a new dedicated, street level bike lane. The north side of the Manhattan Bridge also has its own bike path, though it can sometimes get crowded. The Williamsburg Bridge has a wide, shared bike and pedestrian path that’s sometimes anarchic but usually fine. All offer spectacular views and connect with the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. For variety, and more great views, the bike-friendly East River ferries at Pier 15 are another option.




Central Park Reservoir, 5th Avenue and 90th Street

Located between 86th and 96th Streets, what’s formally named the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is an oasis within an oasis. Originally built between 1858 and 1862 as part of the Croton Aqueduct system, it was formerly known as the Upper Reservoir and operated in conjunction with the nearby Lower Reservoir—site of today’s Great Lawn and Turtle Pond. Decommissioned in 1993, the reservoir’s perimeter features a 1.58 mile gravel running and walking track upon which every stride or step is a crunchy joy.


West End Avenue,57th to 108th Streets

While nearly all street have their virtues, the glories of West End Avenue are little under known. Maybe it’s confusion. On the south end, it begins were 11th Avenue ends; on the north, it merges into Broadway. In between those two points are some of the city’s most picturesque apartment blocks, especially between the 70s and 90s, an area which includes four designated historic districts full of stunning, yet utilitarian architecture from the late 19th century through the early 1930s. Literary Fun Fact: the late Marshall Berman, author of the classic urbanist memoir/meditation, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air (1982), lived for many years 838 West End Avenue. And since this is the holiday season, it is worth noting that Virginia O’Hanlon, who inspired the famous “yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial in the New York Sun lived at 115 W. 95th St. when she posed the question as an eight-year-old in 1897. Today’s it’s the site of a public school.


Pearl Street from Battery Park to Centre Street

If they don’t work or live there, it’s fair to say that most Manhattanites don’t spend much time far, far downtown. What is there in the Financial District or around the Civic Center I can’t find elsewhere, besides ferry terminals, courts, bureaucracy and a jail? Plenty, including the unrivalled, deeply layered view of New York’s rich history, including numerous mid-19th century buildings, one can find in the twists and turns of Pearl Street. Among its many points of interest: the birth site of Herman Melville; Fraunces Tavern museum; Hanover Square; 76 Pearl Street, from which one one of city’s most vexing murder mysteries—the 1997 vanishing of artists Camden Sylvia and Michael Sullivan—arose; the site of the old Manhattan slave market, at Pearl and Wall Streets (its memorial plaque is at Water Street). Pearl continues its northerly course until past the Brooklyn Bridge, when it veers west, where it veers sharply west towards the state and federal court buildings and Thomas Paine Park.




Princeton, New Jersey

Justly famed for the Ivy League university there, the town of Princeton has much to offer in addition to academics. In downtown Princeton, along Nassau Street and its side streets, are a remarkable array of restaurants and shops, including, for music lovers, the world-renowned Princeton Record Exchange. Princeton has a vital art scene as well, both within the University and the town. For outdoors enthusiasts—walkers, runners, cyclists, even kayakers— the largely dirt and gravel Delaware and Raritan Canal path is a delight in all seasons.

By train, take NJ Transit to Princeton Junction, which is literally adjacent to the campus of Princeton University.


Rhinebeck, New York

An unpretentious and historic jewel of the Hudson Valley, almost equidistant between the city and Albany, Rhinebeck—population 8,000 or so—has much more to offer than great views of the Hudson River and Catskills. Oblong Books is an acclaimed book store that also has a wide music selection; Café con Leche offers Puerto Rican restaurant fare as fine as any in Manhattan; Le Petit Bistro is a decades-old favorite for fine, American and French fare. History buffs must visit—The Beekman Arms Inn, which dates back to the mid-1700s, while the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, is a living museum of vintage airplanes.

By train, take Amtrak to Rhinecliff. From there, a very short taxi ride will bring you to Rhinebeck.


Northport, Long Island

Northport, located on the north shore of western Suffolk County and with a population 7,300, is one of Long Island’s most interesting towns. Originally inhabited by Matinecock Indians, by the mid-19th century, it was an important shipbuilding center, and would remain so early into the next century. Jack Kerouac, seeking refuge from the unexpected celebrity that On The Road (1957) brought him, lived with his mother, Gabrielle, in three different Northport homes from 1958-1964. Later, Aesop Rock (Ian Bavitz), the acclaimed rap artist with an immense vocabulary, grew up here. Attractions today include Cow Harbor Park—and every September, the Great Cow Harbor 10K Run—the Northport Historical Society, Pumpernickel’s Restaurant (German cuisine), and Tim’s Shipwreck Diner. There is also Gunther’s Tap Room, which reopened in 2018 after it was gutted by a fire in 2017. The current owners bought in 2016 after previous owner Pete Gunther passed. They managed to salvage the bar top after the fire to give it the same feel as during the Kerouac era complete with the orange and brown walls.

By train, take the Long Island Rail Road Port Jefferson Branch to Northport.