Art of Wellness – The Museum Workout, at the Metropolitan Museum New York

 Metropolitan Museum or Art New York, The Museum Workout,

If you love New York City, classical art & architecture and feeling fit, here’s something that will intrigue you. It intrigues me! All of these are thing close to my heart and here’s a fascinating new event that combines all of them in my absolute favourite place in all New York – The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

So spill already! What is this unique new event?

It’s a private workout class held inside the museum. Whoa!

 Metropolitan Museum or Art New York, The Museum Workout,

Why this does excite me so much? The ties that bind me to The Met, as it’s fondly called by New Yorkers, run deep.

I can’t count the hours I’ve spent in this building, throughout my years living in the city. In my student days at Columbia, I majored in Art History and this museum was my go-to place for research and inspiration. It was the place to see blockbuster art exhibitions from around the world, and a refuge of warmth and comfort when I felt lost or down and needed some extra energy to boost me back up.

The Met’s gorgeous lobby. I always feel right at home as soon as I walk in here. Despite its haute grandeur, the energy in here always feels alive and welcoming.

Whenever I’m in New York, I can easily spend a whole day alone in the museum, roaming the vast range of galleries, and watching the amazing array of art and archeology films and documentaries in the in-house theatre. And attending a charity ball at the magical Temple of Dendur wearing a slinky black designer gown was an ultimate New York glamour experience that was so exciting at the time.

View of the museum from East 82nd Street off Fifth Avenue

When I lived in New York in my college days, both my best friend from Thailand (whose father was ambassador to the United Nations at the time) and my best friend from college lived next door to each other on East 82nd street which was directly across the museum off Fifth Avenue.   And my next door neighbor in the college dorm also lived on the same street in the townhouse opposite them.  By lived there, I mean their parents’ houses were on this street. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but in retrospect, what a strange coincidence it was, because none of them knew each other even though they all lived on the same street. But I knew each of them separately, from different segments of my life.   Anyway, I spent a lot of time either in The Met museum or hanging around that neighbourhood at my friend’s house back in those days.

The Museum Workout is a private workout class held inside The Metropolitan Museum and takes the participants on an exercise routine through the museum galleries. Fascinating! Who thinks up such things? This event was conceived the contemporary American dance company Monica Bill Barnes & Company, and writer/illustrator, Maira Kalman, who are said to be the art scene’s most daring artists and innovators.

 Metropolitan Museum or Art New York, The Museum Workout,

The Museum Workout is not a gimmicky shmimmicky trendy new fitness class. It’s ART! It’s live art!

It’s actually a live performance art piece commissioned by the museum’s MetLiveArts program. It’s a multi-disciplinary work that takes a small group of audience-participants on a physical, interactive journey through the museum in the early morning before it opens to the public.

 Metropolitan Museum or Art New York, The Museum Workout,

In the session, choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and dance partner Anna lead the participants Museum-tour-cum-fitness class. I love the way the dancers lead the class wearing sequined party dresses (with their sneakers), which lends that extra sense of fabulosity to match the elegance of the surroundings. And remember, they are professional dancers, not gym instructors.


The rest of the class can show up dressed as sloppy as they like, as if they just woke up and jumped out of bed and into their ordinary, dtab grey and black, well-worn workout clothes, dressing for we’re-just-normal-folks-comfort rather than fitness fashion. I wonder if this will change as the sessions progress and more participants might be inspired to elevate their workout wardrobe with more dramatic garb to heighten the sense of occasion. I’m thinking feather boas, billowing chiffon scarves and sequined sneakers type of accents, not your run-of-the-mill fluorescent yoga leggings.

 Metropolitan Museum or Art New York, The Museum Workout,

The class is meant to get people to connect with the art in a new way by activating the person’s own body and mind while perusing the galleries.


The gallery tour itinerary is selected by Maira Kalman, and the group moves along to a soundtrack mixed with her recorded voice along with peppy disco and Motown music. When I hear these terms, I can hear my internal record player start bopping out, “Gettt down, boooogie-ooggie-ooggie- I got the Boooogie Feeever…” Have you noticed they used the word boogie a lot in the disco genre?


After passing through the sculpture galleries, medieval galleries, and European paintings, the workout tour ends in the American wing with the class lying in rest in Shavasana, or corpse pose under the golden statue of Diana the Huntress.  There’s even a post-workout breakfast spread included in the session.

Diana the Huntress, viewed from below in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

Sounds slightly wacky and very amazing doesn’t it? I wanted to try it the moment I heard about it. However, so does everyone else in New York. The program is already completely sold out in advance of its February – March schedule. There’s no news yet on whether it will be extended or if more Museum Workouts will happen in future, but I (and other art and wellness fans like me) can only hope.

How does the Museum Workout sound to you? Would you do it?







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