10 Quirky Local Exercise Options for Women: Tap Dancing, Double Dutch, and More

Every Wednesday night at Dance Dynamics in Jackson Heights, a half dozen moms show up to shuffle-ball-change their stress away in a tap dancing class. Led by instructor Kerry Neel, the group learns new steps and routines, gets an hour of exercise, and bonds over the trials of motherhood and life in general. “We have a sparkle cane,” Neel says, “and whoever had the worst day gets to use it in class.”

Sounds better than hitting the gym alone, right? To get your hands on that sparkle cane, check out Dance Dynamics’ Wednesday class for intermediate tappers or ask about its new beginner’s class.

If tapping’s not for you, consider some of these other nontraditional exercise options in Queens and Brooklyn.

Channel your inner Katniss Everdeen at Hidden Gems Archery in Brooklyn or Pro Line Archery Lanes in Ozone Park.

Arm Wrestling
Did you know the main practice location of the New York Arm Wrestling Association is located in Queens Village? Join and a $30 one-year membership gets you a free T-shirt and free weekly practice.

Double Dutch
Learn how to jump rope with style from a double-dutch world champion with classes from Double Dutch Aerobics at Fort Greene Park and in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Challenge your body and mind with foil or saber classes at the Brooklyn Fencing Center.

Figure Skating
World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park and the Brooklyn Park Ice Arena both offer adult classes to learn to skate at all levels.

A combination of running, orienteering, and partying, hashing involves a band of runners—the Harriers and Harriettes—following the trail of chalk marks made by the “Hare” to find the party at the end for beer and food. Just show up at a regularly scheduled hash organized by a Brooklyn or Manhattan chapter of the House Hash Harriers to join this “drinking club with a running problem.”

Hoop Dancing
Using a larger, heavier, and easier to manipulate hoop than the childhood “hula” kind, hooping involves dancing and tricks as well as the usual hip gyrations. Nationally renowned, certified HoopDance teacher Bex Burton runs weekly group classes at her Sense of Motion studio in Williamsburg.

Brooklyn Beast offers mixed and women-only classes in this urban obstacle course-inspired activity where you run, jump, vault, and climb to find the best way of getting from point A to point B with ease. (While you’re there, you can also check out its break-dancing, capoeira, aerial silks, and trampoline classes.)

Roller Derby
The super-tough ladies of Gotham Girls Roller Derby offer a 10-week basic training course for beginners at their facility in East Williamsburg.

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer working, parenting, and living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.