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April 18 2014

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The UES Gets a Brand New Set of Moves

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AKT in MotionAnna Kaiser doesn’t just have a body that rivals Kelly Ripa and Sarah Jessica Parker’s ultra-toned figures—she counts them among her clients. And aside from making celebrities sweat, this trainer has a pedigree that includes dancing backup for Shakira, touring internationally with Fame!, performing on Broadway for the fiftieth anniversary of West Side Story, and serving as Tracy Anderson’s chief content officer. Her “technique” (I was quickly corrected when I referred to it as a “method”), AKT in Motion, has garnered a following that spans from the Upper East Side to Soho. Now, Kaiser is finally opening her six-thousand-square-foot flagship on 84th Street between Second and Third Avenues. (For the downtown set that doesn’t dare venture above 14th Street, the 52 Mercer Street studio will remain open).

Her permanent address features a large class studio, two smaller private studios, and a treatment room (for massage therapy and acupuncture). There is also functional diagnostic nutritionist available on site for consultations and a lounge where you can grab a coffee, shoot out a few emails, and catch up with friends after class. “You go to these boutique fitness studios and there’s no place to hang out,” she said. “You’re thrown back out on the street when the next forty people come to class…It’s so important to be able to sit down, have a conversation with a friend, and make fitness a part of your life.” As someone who thoroughly enjoys the “cool-down” portion of most workouts, I could definitely get into this couch/magazine situation. Of course there are changing rooms equipped with showers, and for the more dedicated students, locker rentals that include laundry service so you don’t have to enjoy the free upper-body warm-up you get by lugging a gym bag up and down the subway stairs.

As for the technique, one would think that, since Kaiser comes from a dance background, her classes would involve choreography designed for people with rhythm (note: I am not a member of this coordinated group), but she assures me that beginners can keep up with AKT (the first level that lasts a full hour). “It’s geared more toward calisthenics than plyometrics—[essentially] heightened pedestrian movement,” she explained. “You’re not going to be doing pirouettes and leaps…but really using your body in all planes of motion so that there’s a lateral transfer, allowing you to get the best and most proportional results.” Happy Hour, the intermediate class, does not involve cheap booze as the name suggests, but instead shocks the system by taking the beginner-level movements and incorporating them into a dance sequence. For the advanced, there’s S&M—a ninety-minute interval session that works you from head to toe.

Personal training is also offered by Kaiser’s team, all of whom danced professionally for five years or more and are trained in everything from prenatal yoga to PRX. “This is really important to me because dancers have a different relationship to movement and to their bodies—they’ve been using their body as a tool their entire lives,” she said. She encourages clients to work one-on-one in addition to taking group classes to tailor the technique to their bodies and goals. Semi-privates, or “Team Trains,” are also available with up to five people. You don’t even need to have SJP or Ripa’s deep pockets to get involved: A monthly, unlimited membership is $450 (this includes access to the downtown location, and a trainer is assigned to you to answer any and all questions), while à la carte classes are $35 for sixty minutes and $45 for ninety. But for the first two weeks at the flagship (November 1 through 15), unlimited classes will be $84 per week (a nod to the studio’s address)—making Kaiser’s dance revolution available to the people.

Opening November 1, 244 East 84th Street, New York, (212) 858-0305; www.aktinmotion.com

Photos: Michelle Rose

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