New Kid on the Block: ExerBlast

When you enter ExerBlast, the new family-fitness facility on Reade Street, you’re journeying to the planet Botania, where the local plant people (Xri, pronounced shree) need your help: Their xi (kai) energy is waning, and to restore it, you have to run, jump, dance, climb, and do all sorts of other stuff. An iPod pedometer app—you wear the device on a belt—keeps track of your steps. “Rather than controlling Mario, you are Mario,” says FiDi resident Kate Gyllenhaal, co-founder and chief fun officer. (“If you’re not having fun, it’s my fault.”)

Gyllenhaal (above) and a good friend, Susan Jennings, came up with the concept five years ago. They were collaborating on a dance project when Jennings said they should do something for kids. They considered a TV show, but that was too complicated. What they really wanted was a place where they could go to have fun (and get exercise) with their kids. Susan suggested they meet with Don Sunderland, now the CEO, and a business was born.

The first ExerBlast opened last week in the 6,400-square-foot space that was most recently home to Grimshaw Architects. Blue lines on the floor lead you along the circuit. The two levels are a mix of real-world apparatuses (a jungle-gym-like sphere, a room of big rubber balls, climbing walls that rotate as you ascend) and the virtual (you receive an animated welcome, and some of the other nine zones feature projections that move when you do). “The beauty of it is that the programming can change over time,” explains chief financial officer Tom Currier, who lives in Tribeca. Ultimately, participants will be able to redeem the points they collect for a free birthday party (it should go without saying that there’s a party room), fitness-related products, and even the chance to help create content. During the school day, ExerBlast plans to use the space for parenting classes, cooking classes, and senior fitness.

“The idea was initially for kids 5 to 12,” says Gyllenhaal, “but now we’re thinking 5 on up.” Siblings younger than five are welcome, as long as parents understand that those kids are not likely to get as much from the experience. While parents and caregivers are definitely encouraged to participate, children may also be dropped off.

Everybody gets one free trial blast, and charter memberships are available until September 1. For more on what that entails—and pricing in general—stop by. (Today, what with the heat and the school holiday, ExerBlast will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Reservations are accepted.

ExerBlast is at 100 Reade (bet. W. Broadway and Church), 888-898-9797; exerblast.com.

UPDATE: I have to turn off the comments because the spammers are bombarding this post. Email any comments to tribecacitizen@gmail.com and I’ll add them here.

P.S. My camera couldn’t handle the party room (above); it’s not really lit blue.

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8 Comments

  1. I had my sonš 6th birthday party at Exerblast this past Sunday and without being self-serving, I have to say that was one of the best kids’ parties I’ve ever been to. I say not self serving because I really didn’t have to do that much – The trainers/instructors completely took control and had the kids going through all the circuits, dancing, hopping, climbing, running, bouncing etc – not one kid (out of 26) wanted to stop at the end, they loved it. The parents were invited to participate or relax as they wished. At the end, people left thanking me with a lot of gratitude. Itš a really fun place, and the staff are super, really good with kids.

    Highly recommended for families and anyone else who wants great exercise in a really interesting environment.

  2. Can teens go there too?

  3. @Liat: Definitely. Not sure whether they’ll get as much of a kick out of it as the younger set (but then I didn’t do it–just toured). Report back!

  4. @Liat: absolutely! Exerblast IS FOR EVERYONE OVER FIVE. For teen blasters–for any blasters–we’ll modify the adventure to maximize fun and health benefits. Exerblast is committed to a flexible program that meets individual needs. Our fitness equipment is designed to address the needs of a spectrum of body types, and our adventures are just fun, period. But don’t take my word for it–come see for yourself. We’ll even get you set up with a free first blast! email: reservation@exerblast.com

  5. Looks like a great idea. Wish we had one in Falmouth. Perhaps you should franchise??? xoxo o

  6. how ’bout adults? can you handle middle aged adults (wink)? LOOKS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I still lived in NYC!

  7. I really need one of these in the LA area today! I hope you expand. Great article about an AMAZING IDEA! The space looks so inviting, intriguing I can see even the adults want to participate. I’ve always wanted a place where both kids and adults could “play” (“play” = exercise while having fun). THANKS ExerBlast! I can’t wait to go.

  8. This sounds like a great idea and place. Wished we lived closer so we could visit it. I forsee a real developing , far reaching bussiness. It’s just what the nation needs.