Some time in the last three years, New Orleans joined the rest of our mid-sized-city-brethren and caught the fitness bug. In a city better known for bars rather than barbells, NOLA (perhaps surprisingly) has some great fitness options. New fitness centers and group exercise classes are popping up all over town, and health-conscious LGBT traveler will be delighted to know that before they bop around on Bourbon or funk down on Frenchmen, they can get their sweat on in a number of innovative, fun, and challenging fitness classes here in town.
I spent a week kicking my own butt and finding some of the most fun and gay-friendly fitness fads around town. Take a look:
LGBT Fitness Classes in New Orleans
Pretty accurate name here: one hour, and it’s a blast. This class is composed of two zones: your cardio zone on the treadmill and your TRX zone on the floor. We alternated back and forth a few times- it’s set up such that you get your heart rate up on the treadmills and then bring it back down a bit while blasting it out on the TXR bands. I was fully engaged throughout the whole class, thanks in large part to my killer instructor, who kept her instructions clear and motivational. The studio has a smaller, boutique feel to it that almost felt like a less intimidating version of Orange Theory.
- Challenge Level: 9
- LGBT Factor: 8 My instructor was Queer and this felt like a super comfortable, safe space
- Number of Espressos I had at Mammoth Espresso, right next door, when I was done: 1 (Although, 2 if you’re counting it as a double.)
Someone once told me that RIDE had the most handsome spin instructors in town. (I suppose now would be a good time to disclose that I am, in fact, an instructor at Romney RIDE.) With indoor cycling studios opening up all over NOLA, Romney RIDE remains the original and gold standard.
Romney RIDE is a 45-minute full body class, nay, experience, that focuses on beat-driven choreography on a stationary bike. What gay man doesn’t love to dance — and given the option to do it on a bike, why not? The classes are a high-energy cardio party. Specialty spin shoes and towels are provided.
- Challenge Level: 9
- LGBT Factor: 10 (There’s a very high probability that your male instructor here is gay, and the class has a real dance party feel to it. If you’re lucky, you may even catch one of the PrideRides, held frequently in June — New Orleans Pride is June 9-11!)
- Times a disco ball lights up in a typical class: 3-4
Higher Power Downtown
The downtown location is the expansion of NOLA fitness guru Mark Berger’s mid city location. The downtown location is sleek, sexy and has got some really dope mood lighting in the studios. I dropped in for a morning yoga class and later an afternoon spin class. The studio is state-of-the-art and I loved both classes I took. The yoga studio doubles as a TRX class as well, so technically you’ve got three studios in one. HP Downtown is located in the very up-and-coming South Market District of the CBD, so there is plenty to eat/see/shop after you are done with class.
- Challenge Level: 9
- LGBT Factor: 10 (Owner Mark Berger is one of the best allies in the city, and there are few studios in town that are more gay-friendly than Higher Power.)
- Times my yoga instructor said “yaaas,” the true sign of a great gay workout: 4
Big Easy Bootcamp
If heading outside for your daily workout fix is more your bag, head to Audubon Park for Big Easy Bootcamp, a popular group exercise class. Largely recognized as the gayest bootcamp in town, Big Easy Bootcamp clients are often members or allies in the LGBT community. Classes are different every day of the week and provide a fun and challenging way to get your sweat on with a group of like-minded individuals. The classes are traditional bootcamp style, with a focus on core strength and cardio endurance. Classes can easily be modified for beginning or advanced boot-campers.
- Challenge Level: 7
- LGBT Factor: 11 (It doesn’t get much gayer than this)
- Burpies per class: At least 200
Megaformer at Romney Pilates Center
Megaformers are known in the Pilates world as the highest of the high-end for machines. Romney is the only studio home in New Orleans to these high-tech torture devices workout platforms.
As an in-shape guy myself, I was not expecting this class — filled mostly with cute, young women — to be as hard as it was. It was possibly the most challenging one hour workout I have ever experienced. From legs, to core, to arms, the Megaformer class works it all. Your body will feel like JELL-O for a full week after.
- Challenge Level: 11
- LGBT Factor: 8 (Romney is one of the premier fitness centers in NOLA with a great relationship with the LGBT community)
- Times I tried to quit mid-class: 3
I’ve done yoga all over the country, and there are few studios that offer the balance of tranquility and beauty with a challenging full body yoga practice. Reyn has got to be one of the most beautiful workout spaces in New Orleans; its huge windows provide sweeping views of the city for you to soak in as you Chaturanga.
Reyn has a long history of working with the LGBT community, and classes are often populated by members of this group. Reyn’s classes run from beginner to the most advanced, R3. Wanna get really gay with it? Check out Make it Reyn –– a fusion movement class with a real dance vibe to it.
• Challenge Level: 7-10 (Depends on the class)
- LGBT Factor: 9 (Where gays and yoga become one)
- Minutes I fell asleep after cold eucalyptus towel was placed on forehead after class: 6
There you have it! The benefit for all six of these classes is that they offer drop-in rates and single-class passes for travelers visiting New Orleans for just a few days. So whether you want to create a bike, surf, or yoga break during your next visit to town, we have you covered.
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