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There are a few truths about living in San Francisco: you always need to wear layers, you’re never far from a good burrito — oh, and we have some of the sweatiest workouts in the country (in a good way!).
There’s a lot boutique fitness chains that have outposts in the city and they’re complimented by homegrown studios for Pilates, circuit training, CrossFit, and more. However you like to get your sweat on, you can expect there to be an innovative, challenging, and, above all—FUN—workout at on of these awesome San Francisco fitness studios.
If you’ve ever walked past a SoulCycle post class, then you know this is a sweaty workout — in all the best ways. Just when you think you can’t push the pedals another revolution, you’ll pick up the weights and go through an upper-body strength series for a full-body muscle burn. With locations in SoMa, Union St., the Castro, PLUS East Bay, South Bay, and Marin, you’re never far from a high-intensity, cardio session in the saddle.
The calming vibes at this beautiful Pilates studio in SoMa will almost make you forget about that muscle fatigue… almost. Here, you’ll focus on small, sculpting movements on their Reformer machines, and sit back and relax with a free Nespresso afterward. Think you won’t sweat? Their instructors push you until your muscles are shaking — you’ll thank them later.
Did you recently watch Million Dollar Baby and decide you too want to take up boxing? (It can’t just be us.) Anyway, one of the quickest ways to get a sweaty, exhausting workout in is to slip on some gloves for Hit Fit SF’s boxing classes in the Mission or in Nob Hill. But don’t worry, they’re made for all levels, so you don’t have to feel intimidated if you don’t know your left hook from your jab.
Keep your eyes open at Orangetheory. During your sweat sesh, your performance stats will be displayed on a board in front of the entire class, so you can hold yourself accountable and push yourself to the next level — that’s why we love working out at OTF. You’ll bring your heart rate up on their treadmills, rowers, and with TRX and free weight circuits in their one-hour workout of epic proportions. And while they also have a location in Mission Bay, their FiDi location is perfect for those who work downtown and want to sneak in a lunchtime workout or blow off steam after a long day at the office.
Barry’s prides themselves on using science to craft the most effective workout possible, and after you go to class just once, you’ll be a believer, too. They’ve got four locations in the city—FiDi, SoMa, the Castro, and the Marina—and each class includes an interval circuit on the treadmill and a strength-training circuit on the floor. If you’re able to walk after a Barry’s Bootcamp, treat yourself to the Malin + Goetz products in the locker rooms and a post-class smoothie. You’ve earned it.
If SoulCycle and yoga had a baby, it would be Ritual Yoga (and she’s beautiful). Flow to the beat of the music in their dimly-lit studios in both SoMa and FIDI (oh, and they’ve expanded to Chicago now, too). No need to worry about hanging up your sweaty mat or Yogitoes afterward — it’s all included in your class fee!
Some people have kindly described CORE40 as “Pilates on overdrive”, but CORE40 is not just Pilates — it’s a fusion of traditional Pilates, circuit training, strength training, AND cardio. Simply put, if you attend one of their classes—CORE40 Full Body, CORECYCLE, or CORECOMBO—good luck getting out of bed the next day. And with seven studios around the city, you no longer have and excuse to not get to class.
Crunched for time? Basecamp Fitness get it and raises you one sweaty, 35-minute, adrenaline-boosting workout. Each minute, you’ll switch between the Assault AirBike and the mat, leaving your heart pounding and the sweat dripping. The Russian Hill studio also offers amenities like showers with toiletries, towel service, and planned happy hours, so you can get to know the Basecamp community.
When you walk into Epic Interval Training in SoMa or Hayes Valley, you might think to yourself, “Wow, what’s the big fuss about?”. Then the workout gets started and the room turns into eight workout stations — and you’ll hit each and every one of them during 45 minutes of straight-up sweat-dripping fun. You’ll spend 30-60 seconds on each station, which could be anything, really: sandbags, TRX, box jumps, rings, or kettlebells — it all depends on the day, so make sure you’re prepared for anything.
BodyROK’s Megaformer classes will fly because you’ll be focused on working your legs, core, and arms. And don’t worry—you’ll leave their studio feeling like you got in a solid workout—not just a good stretch. Want to switch things up a bit? They also offer cycling and yoga classes. And all their classes are kept small, so you get the attention your workout deserves. Check out one of their six studios around the city (and outposts nearby in Berkeley, Oakland, and Petaluma) and get ready to rock that body.
Throwin’ down the Presidio, San Francisco CrossFit is the box you need to check out in the city. This hardcore gym has some of the best coaches in the country, including their founder Kelly Starrett. And there’s not such thing as a workout routine here — each WOD changes the moves and intensity to make sure you don’t get bored—or injured—with repetitive movements. Still getting used to this whole CrossFit thing? They’ll talk through modifications for each level, so you won’t feel intimidated by any exercise during class.
CorePower Yoga has made quick work of expanding from Mission Bay to FiDi to Nob Hill to the Marina — and they even have locations now open in Duboce and Hayes Valley. Wondering what all the fuss is about? Two words: yoga plus light-weight training. No wonder we’re in love. Their Yoga Sculpt classes are heated and will leave you sweaty, but their locker rooms have showers and toiletries to help you clean up after class.
Don’t let the beauty of SALT SF fool you — you’ll definitely get those muscles working at this studio in the Haight. They offer both 60- and 45-minute class options from Barre Fight (a barre-meets-kickboxing class) to 7X7 circuit training and mash-ups of the two. Looking to turn up the intensity? Try out their Hella Salty workout — a HIIT class that will give you one hell of a workout.
Love group fitness but want a little more one-on-one attention? You’ll want to check out The Boombox in The Castro. This studio only allows six students per class and your “box” (aka station) will be set-up for your personal fitness level once you arrive. They integrate a mix of bands, kettlebells, jump-ropes, TRX—and just about every other fitness tool available—so no workout will ever be a repeat. Though, you will always sweat.
If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that this workout is not like the others. Here, you'll train like a champ in a 45-minute, boxing-inspired sweat session. With the lights down low and the music cranked way up, you'll alternate between punching it out on their water-filled, tear drop-style heavy bags and torching your muscles with a series of strength training and bodyweight exercises. See for yourself what the Rumble experience is all about at their studio in FiDi.
**Updated April 2019.