3 High-Intensity Workout Classes
to Try

Whether you’re a fitness junkie or just getting started, you’re likely familiar with the concept of high-intensity workouts. Based on the principles of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves sets of exercises completed at near maximum effort, these classes seem to inspire love, fear and loathing—depending on who you ask. With all the options out there, it can be hard to figure out where to begin. So we did the dirty work and visited three of NYC’s most grueling, notorious and beloved group fitness classes. Read on to find out which one is right for you and what to expect when you get there.


The Rundown: Barry’s Bootcamp claims to be the original high-intensity workout—and is certainly among the best-known. A standard class combines 25 minutes of treadmill work with 25 minutes of strength training. Both are broken down into smaller intervals, so you move back and forth several times during each class. Different classes also often focus on different muscle groups. (Options include chest, back and abs; arms and abs; butt and legs; just abs; and full body.)

The Verdict: If you’re new to group fitness, this is a good place to start. Not because the workouts aren’t challenging—they are. For the most part, however, you can work through them at your own pace. Classes are also consistently large and full, so you have the comforting sense that everyone is too focused on their own workout to pay much attention to what you’re doing. And unlike many similar classes, this one doesn’t involve partner work or splitting into small groups. They also have a helpful how-to for first timers on their website.


The Rundown: In terms of both structure and exercises, Fhitting Room falls somewhere in between CrossFit and Barry’s Bootcamp on the group fitness spectrum. Classes combine high-intensity intervals, cardio and strength-training for a truly heart-pounding, sweat-inducing workout. Activities include everything from kettlebell swings to burpees to spins on the Assault bike. (For those unacquainted, the Assault Bike is essentially your standard-issue spin bike’s scary, intense cousin. It’s virtually guaranteed to send your heart rate skyrocketing in a few seconds flat.) If you want to see for yourself, you can even visit their First Timers page to watch a class in action.

The Verdict: The Fhitting Room hits what we suspect is an exercise sweet spot for the moderate-to-highly active. You leave sweaty, wake up sore and think “I might not make it through this” just the right number of times.  We also love that each class is staffed with two cheerful instructors, both of whom keep a watchful eye on your form. One of our favorite personal touches? Free, on-brand grey and lime green hair ties at the front desk.


The Rundown: Built around the concept of training like an athlete, Tone House offers a 60-minute high-intensity workout that is not for the faint of heart. Classes start with a “team huddle”, followed by a warmup that will almost definitely feel harder than most things you’ve done in your life. You then move through a series of team-oriented activities that, in the words of the Tone House website, include “consistent transitions from explosive to non-explosive exercises”. In our experience, this includes everything from squats and burpees to pushing a sled topped with your teammate.

The Verdict: This one is for only the most ambitious of beginners. Consider working your way up to it—and be prepared to have an entire class watch (and cheer you on!) as you perform a series of increasingly Herculean feats. We’re willing to take a stance and say this is the hardest class in New York City. It’s also incredibly fun and, unlike many other classes, facilitates conversation with your fellow athletes.