Every year around this time, I start plotting my trip out to New York City to cover the marathon. In my first few years going out there, anything outside of my work schedule seemed to involve drinks, late-night shows, and decadent restaurant eats. It's a lot different these days. The only way I can stay healthy and sane during my annual trip is by throwing in a nice dose of workouts and healthy eats. And that's what's great about NYC: for every cocktail bar pushing its latest artisanal concoction, there's a new boutique fitness studio opening down the block. If you're heading there for the marathon or just have a trip in the works, let this be your guide on moderation while there.
- Who to fly: When it comes to flying to NYC, JetBlue is hard to beat. Its headquartered in New York, so it's no surprise that there are a lot of flights coming in and out of the area from the airline. JetBlue has flights to and from all major airports (JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia) around NYC, with service between the NYC area and almost 100 US cities and close to 200 flights each day.
Besides the sheer number of flights, passengers will appreciate that JetBlue has the most legroom in coach out of any airline, as well as free snack stations located throughout the plane. Runners: carbo load to your heart's desire! And because running the NYC Marathon is no easy feat, treat yourself on the way home to JetBlue's Mint Class. It's the most affordable first-class option that you'll ever come across and has flat-lie beds, allowing you to lie back and take care of that body that just ran 26.2 miles.
- Where to stay: There are a lot of great hotels in New York, but when it comes to marathon weekend, I am partial to Kimpton's Ink48. It's a short walk to the Marathon Expo at the Javits Center, and the hotel has free bike rentals, which will help keep your feet fresh for the race. During marathon weekend, there's lots of fitness-oriented amenities for guests to partake in: iPod Shuffles preloaded with playlists for your run, gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free snacks for your minibar, and running guides who will take you through sightseeing tours.
Perhaps what I love most about the Ink48 is its location; since it's on the west side of the city and just below the park, getting back from the marathon finish line is much easier compared to staying in other areas of Manhattan.
Where to Work Out
The sheer amount of workout studios in NYC is overwhelming. Because of this, I try to focus on trying new studios that don't have locations outside of NYC. If you don't come from a city with a lot of studios, definitely hit up these classic workouts who have their roots in New York: SoulCycle, Barry's Bootcamp, and Flywheel Sports. If those have been checked off of your list, make sure to give one — or all — of these a try.
- 305 Fitness: My all-time favorite workout in the city is by far 305 Fitness; I never visit without doing one of its infectious dance-cardio classes. A mix of pick-up dance cardio, high-intensity intervals, and strength training, 305 trumps other dance workouts because of its fun, party-like environment. The soundtrack is provided by live DJs and most of the class is done under a blacklight.
- SLT: In recent years, there's been an uptick in Pilates classes that verge on the border of being called Pilates bootcamp classes. To get a true NYC experience, I recommend trying SLT (strengthen, lengthen, tone). The boutique studio is wildly popular, and for good reason: the workouts are tough and truly measurable when it comes to results. Unlike other Pilates classes, you can probably expect to sweat a little, too; it's a good mix of strength training, cardio, and classic Pilates. You'll come out stronger and most likely be feeling your midsection for days.
- IMAXShift: It's kind of crazy how many indoor cycling studios are in New York. Peloton Cycle, SoulCycle, and Flywheel Sports are all good bets, but for something truly unique, give IMAXShift a try. Students ride together in a dark room with a giant IMAX screen taking them through insane visuals that will have them riding through neon-lit tunnels, city landscapes, and even space.
- Y7 Studio: What's not to love about doing yoga at Y7 Studio? At 60 minutes, the class is considerably shorter than most yoga classes, but it definitely makes up for it in intensity. The heated class takes place against ambient candlelight and the moves are paced against a soundtrack. I'm especially fond of its Wednesday and Sunday hip-hop Vinyasa classes.
- CityRow: There is so much to love about rowing; namely, it's a total-body cardio and strength-training workout that is easy on the joints. But the sad truth is that it remains a neglected piece of gym equipment. For a serious butt-kicking workout, head to CityRow for a class that combines rowing intervals with strength training. You'll burn serious calories and find a new love for that oft-neglected machine.
Where to Eat
When it comes to dinner in NYC, I tend to indulge, but these are some great fast-casual spots for healthy lunches during the day.
- Hu Kitchen: If you consider yourself Paleo, dairy-free, or gluten-free, Hu Kitchen is a must. From its Bulletproof coffee to wild salmon cakes and cauliflower rice, it's a dream come true when you follow a restrictive diet. The food is prepared ahead of time, so the ordering experience is much like being at a school cafeteria, except that everything tastes amazing.
- Liquiteria: Traveling can do a number on the immune system and energy levels, which is why I always make a stop at Liquiteria whenever I am in town. One of the first cold-press juice shops to open in the city, the menu has expanded to smoothies, both acai and oatmeal bowls, and baked goods
- by CHLOE: While it's true that not everything on the menu at by CHLOE is 100-percent healthy in the traditional sense, having the option of vegan fast food is a beautiful thing. The entire menu is plant-based with such offerings as baked sweet potato fries, veggie guac burgers, and kale caesar salads. Want to indulge? Go for the mac 'n' cheese or the roasted banana bourbon ice cream.
- Wisefish Poké: Having grown up in Hawaii, I am pretty excited that the rest of the country is discovering what I've known my whole life: poké is a gift from food gods. When done right, it's incredibly fresh, healthy, and stacked with protein. I love the build-your-own bowl process at Wisefish Poké, and that the seafood is responsibly sourced.