If you’re like me, you’ve probably been looking for any excuse to pack your bags and abandon Sheepshead Bay’s Bally Total Fitness (1720 Sheepshead Bay Road). You’re tired of dumbbells that sit in a pile on the floor rather than on their respective shelves. You’re tired of never being able to get a decent workout between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. due to the post-work crowd. And do I even need to go into detail about the swimming pool filled with an amalgamation of water, human sweat and dead skin cells? I’m sure I’m not alone – just take a look at their (sometimes hilarious) Yelp reviews.
For years, Bally was just about the only game in town. But a spate of gym openings in the past year (and more to open soon) brings new options to the neighborhood, as well as helped shine a light on some old ones that may have gone under the radar. Whether you’re a Bally member looking to flee, or a newbie looking for a gym, here are five solid alternatives around Sheepshead Bay.
One of the fastest growing fitness chains, Retro Fitness, has further expanded its borders, giving birth to a brand new home in nearby Gravesend. The facility sports a unique red and yellow interior, giving it a warm, vintage look that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back into the 80s. On top of that, there’s an in-house smoothie bar, cardio machines equipped with their own mini-television screens (with all the ESPN you could imagine), and an assortment of weights and dumbbells all placed properly in their respective racks. Take that Bally. But what really makes Retro Fitness stand out from the rest is their cardio theater, where you could watch a new movie every day (when I visited they were showing Skyfall) instead of focusing on how many calories you still have to burn before you could finally get off the damn treadmill. 325 Ave Y.
If you want to one day give GSP a run for his money, then the UFC Gym located on the Brighton Beach – Sheepshead Bay border is a good place to start. With courses, all taught by experts, ranging from kickboxing to jiujutsu, you can learn to kick some MMA butt. One of the highlights of the UFC Gym is their workout, conveniently called “The Workout,” where you’re guaranteed to burn between 800 and 1000 calories in just one hour-long session. Pack your boxing gloves and bring your mental toughness; you’re going to need it. 16 Brighton 11th Street.
Poised to be the crème de la crème of fitness centers, the $20 million complex replaces the old Brooklyn Racquet Club that shuttered in 2011. This staggering 120,000 square foot complex has everything you could imagine in terms of exercise activities: a junior Olympic pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a gymnastics arena, nine tennis courts, a full indoor spa, and a whole lot more to list. Feeling hungry after a workout? MatchPoint has a tasty restaurant overlooking the tennis courts with tons of fresh and healthy food options, including all the post-workout smoothies your body could handle. If you’re looking for the full package with enough activities for the whole family, then MatchPoint is the way to go. 2781 Shell Road
Looking to get into shape while learning something new and supporting a local independent operation? Then Challenge Fitness is the gym to sign up for. Challenge has actually been in the neighborhood for some time, but moved into a larger facility a few short years ago. With unique fitness classes offered, such as “Kettle bell lunacy” (a full workout done with only Kettle bells), Zumba, karate, yoga, kickboxing and more, you’ll find yourself shredding calories and having fun. 2209 Avenue X.
Blink Fitness, already popular across Manhattan, just recently opened its doors to the people of Sheepshead Bay, located where the old Pathmark used to be on Nostrand Avenue and Avenue Y. Blink’s angle is affordability, cleanliness, and friendliness, so it’s basically the anti-Bally. With over 150 pieces of cardio and strength equipment and a $15/month price tag, Blink Fitness is the no-frills option for those looking for a workout and not a scene. There’s also motivational quotes posted around the gym to keep those reluctant legs on the treadmill. 3779 Nostrand Avenue.
— Daniel Gokstein
Do you have a favorite local gym we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!