How to Work Out for Free for an Entire Month in NYC

How to workout for free in NYC
Chelsea Piers | Scott McDermott
Chelsea Piers | Scott McDermott

There's probably nothing more discouraging than trying to exercise in NYC. It’s the ultimate Catch-22: in order to afford to work out at boutique studios that charge $40 for 45 minutes, you need to work insanely hard, and working insanely hard probably means that you don’t have the time or energy to work out in the first place.

Fortunately, a number of top studios (and gyms with studio-worthy classes) are willing to offer a no-cost glimpse inside. Guest passes, trial offers, and free intro classes are your best chance at experiencing the most talked-about boutique workouts in New York, without committing half of your monthly salary.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite gym and studio introductory offers -- enough to give you an entire month of top-rated workouts -- so that you can see what that very pricey fuss is all about.

Crunch Fitness
Courtesy of Crunch

Days 1-3: Crunch

Crunch gyms are scattered all across the city, from Greenpoint to the Bronx, and just about every major Manhattan neighborhood in between. Crunch is sort of your typical gym -- though some locations have perks, like a 40ft rock wall -- with a heavy emphasis on cardio machines and free weights. But for New Yorkers seeking a boutique class experience for a fraction of the cost, it’s a pretty worthwhile alternative. Class schedules vary wildly with location, but highlights include the BodyWeb with TRX classes, which are fun, extremely challenging, and not easy to come by. Guest passes are available for one to five days, and may even come with a free personal training session.
Free offer: One-, three-, or five-day guest pass
Original cost: ~$50 per month


Day 4: Equinox

If you’re seeking a boutique fitness experience, don’t write off Equinox just because it’s a gym. The classes are just as challenging as boutique studios (if not more so), and even the yoga classes have an athletic, high-energy bent. You only get one day to try out this fitness Eden (though you may be able to sweet-talk a membership advisor into extending it for three days), so make it count. The True Barre and Barre + Band classes are on par with major studios like Pure Barre and The Bar Method (skip EQX Barre Burn, which is a good workout, but probably not what you had in mind when you signed up) or seek out one of their signature classes like The Cut (a cardio kickboxing class with light weights), which debuted this year. Contact your local club to set up a tour and arrange your experience.
Free offer: One Equinox experience (three if you’re really nice to your membership advisor, and/or genuinely considering becoming a member)
Original cost: $50 for a day pass

Pure Yoga
Courtesy of Pure Yoga

Day 5: Pure Yoga

Pure Yoga offers more than 350 classes a week, meaning you have literally zero excuses for not being able to make at least one with your free day pass to Pure Yoga. Check out the Figure 4 barre-style program, which combines dance, light weights, and yoga for serious thigh- and butt-burning. The real draw here is the impressive roster of instructors, including famous yogis who have been known to make special appearances.
Free offer: One day
Original cost: ~ $35 per class, open to members only

Day 6: CKO Kickboxing

Use your free trial at CKO Kickboxing on a day when you have the energy for a serious workout: CKO claims to burn as many as 1,200 calories per class. There are no levels -- all the classes are hour-long kickboxing and bodyweight-training sessions -- so you’ll definitely want to arrive 15-20 minutes early if you’re a martial arts newbie. That way, instructors can walk you through the basic hooks, jabs, and roundhouse kicks. There are three CKO gyms in Manhattan, and an additional seven in Brooklyn and Queens. The first class is free, but you’ll need to borrow or buy gloves prior to arrival.
Free offer: First class free
Original cost: $89.99 per month

Day 7: CLAY Health Club + Spa

Union Square’s best gym/spa mash-up is a bit like fitness heaven, with its white marble, white walls, and gas fireplace crackling in the lobby. Save your complimentary day at CLAY for a Monday or Wednesday evening, when you can take the AXLE class on the rooftop sundeck. It’s a 50-minute, high-intensity conditioning class that makes use of a light, rolling training bar.
Free offer: One-day guest pass
Original cost: $200 per month

AsOne Effect
Courtesy of AsOne Effect

Day 8: As One Effect

Exposed brick and red walls are your first hint as to how intense this interval training class will be. Start with the signature As One Effect class, which is a boot camp-inspired workout. You’ll make use of cardio equipment, experience all the joys of planks, and do too many burpees to count before the hour is up. Sweating (a lot) is inevitable, but the locker rooms are well-stocked with amenities ranging from blow dryers and hair spray to Q-tips and cotton balls.
Free offer: First class free
Original cost: $40 per class

Day 9: Sacred Brooklyn

Sacred’s intro offer is great ($20 for two weeks of unlimited classes), but it’s not free. Fortunately, you can check out the studio any Saturday at noon for a complimentary community class. It’s an hour-long warm yoga class, which concludes with 30 minutes of peaceful meditation. Because it’s first-come, first-served, you’ll want to get there early to reserve your space. The studio is spacious (about 1,100sqft) though quite minimal in design and decor.
Free offer: Complimentary Saturday yoga
Original cost: $20 per class

Solace CrossFit
Courtesy of Solace CrossFit

Day 10: CrossFit Solace

Even if you’ve never been into the idea of tossing tires and snatching kettlebells, you’ll want to take advantage of Solace’s introductory (and complimentary) CrossFit class. You’re in for a lot chatting -- nutrition, methodology, and a rundown of basic exercises. But the short workout will be intense. More importantly, this is a premium, high-design version of CrossFit, more akin to a boutique fitness club with its dark wood walls and Gilchrist & Soames bath products than a traditional Box.
Free offer: Free Intro to CrossFit class
Original cost: $35 per class

Courtesy of TMPL Gym

Day 11: TMPL Gym

There aren’t many gyms out there that will give you a true studio experience, but TMPL (basically, a temple to hip fitness trends that for whatever reason lacks vowels) is certainly one of them. New clients can make the most of their one-day guest pass by swimming laps in the saltwater pool and trying out THE TRIP, a 40-minute spin class featuring a 30ft video wall for immersive projections. Cycling across glaciers or through futuristic cityscapes, anyone?
Free offer: One-day guest pass
Original cost: $160 per month 

Ice CrossFit NYC
Gustav Liliequist

Day 12: CrossFit Below Zero at ICE

If you want to get in shape, try working out with the so-called “fittest woman on Earth.” Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, a CrossFit champ, is the Director of Programming at ICE, and she’s helped to create a unique, multi-tiered system to address the various skill levels of all members. Unlike more basic CrossFit gyms, this one explores the genre broadly, and features other disciplines like MELT Yoga and Arctic Row: all keeping with the wintry theme.
Free offer: Free Intro to CrossFit Class
Original cost: $37 per class

Days 13-19: YogaWorks

With five studios across New York City, including one in Westchester, it’s easy to make full use of the company’s one-week unlimited yoga trial. The studios -- especially the sun-filled SoHo location -- feel approachable, and offer creature comforts you’d be hard-pressed to find at a tiny boutique (showers and a tea room). If you’re not yet a yogi, you’ll still be able to fit right in at a namesake YogaWorks level 1 class, or Yoga 101. If you have a regular practice, challenge yourself with a fast-paced vinyasa class or Power Yoga.
Free offer: One week unlimited
Original cost: $196 for seven drop-in classes

Day 20: BRICK NY

Whether you’re at the Grand Central location or at BRICK in Chelsea, the instructors of this club (CrossFit meets boot camp, with an occasional yoga class thrown in for literal balance) will not waste a single second of your time. Your complimentary intro class includes a coaching session to map out goals and nutrition. After a short, standard CrossFit-esque workout, you’ll be able to take one of the many classes on offer. Try the B|Fit -- a strength training class that may or may not involve gymnastic rings.
Free offer: Complimentary one-on-one session and a free class
Original cost: $35 per class

Day 21: Zend Avesta Pilates

Trek to Astoria for a personal consultation and a free, 30-minute reformer class. You’ll learn the basics of working with the apparatus, which is designed to add resistance to your exercises and streamline your movements. The studio is very zen, with dark green walls, wood floors, and floor-to-ceiling mirrors to help you keep an eye on your form.  
Free offer: Complimentary 30-minute session
Original cost: $30 per class

Day 22: Harbor Fitness

From Bay Ridge to Park Slope, this Brooklyn-based gym has all the extras you’d expect from a boutique studio: chilled eucalyptus towels, hammered tin ceilings, an in-house juice bar, and popular fitness classes. Here, you can take barre, Zumba with certified instructors, and an unusual offering called POUND -- a cardio session with light resistance and simulated drumming (it’s not as weird as it sounds).
Free offer: One-day guest pass
Original cost: $20 for a day pass

Chelsea Piers
Scott McDermott

Day 23: The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers

Be prepared to spend an entire day exploring (yes, really) this expansive gym, which is a grown-up version of a playground, and has everything from a dedicated barre studio to a sand volleyball court, track, and 6,000sqft of dedicated cardio space. If you’re really after the boutique class experience, you’ll want to make time for one of the many daily group fitness classes -- most of which have been cherry-picked from niche fitness studios like SURFSET.  
Free offer: One-day guest pass
Original cost: $50 for a day pass; $30 for a single barre class

Days 24-26: Body Reserve

On the corner of Union and Fifth Ave is the oldest standing gym in Park Slope -- and it just happens to be inside a prewar bank. This isn’t the most luxurious gym on the list -- you won’t find any frills like saunas or hairspray in the locker room. But Body Reserve still keeps up with the most popular boutique classes. For three days, you can try everything from spinning to barre, hatha yoga, and a bootcamp-style group session. Skip the Zumba class though; it’s not the strongest offering.
Free offer: Three-day trial
Original cost: $45 for three classes, or $60 for three full-day passes

Day 27: Sage Studios

Don’t let the name fool you: there’s nothing relaxing happening inside this Astoria fitness studio. No more than 10 clients are allowed in the 45-minute group fitness classes, which specialize in TRX, kettlebell routines, and military-style boot camps. Sage Studios is small, clean, and painted (albeit obviously) in a cool sage green.
Free offer: One free training session
Original cost: $27 per class

Day 28: Bikram Yoga NYC

If you just don’t feel like you’ve had a decent workout without being drenched in sweat, Bikram Yoga is for you. There are four studios spread across Manhattan, three of which boast new Flotex flooring: a carpet-like, waterproof, anti-microbial option perfect for 90 minutes spent in a 105-degree room with 40% humidity. For first-timers, note that Bikram is absolutely nothing like vinyasa. Every class works through the same 26 postures, in the same order. Fortunately, all studios are equipped with showers and lavender-mint shampoo and conditioner.
Free offer: First class free
Original cost: $25 per class

Day 29: Retro Fitness

The big draw here is the gym itself: colorful equipment and cardio machines give this place a vintage, ‘80s vibe. You’ll even find a so-called Cardio Theater, where popular movies play on a large-screen TV while you kill time on an elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill. But if you’re here for the fitness classes, you’ll find 21st-century offerings like spin, yoga, and boot camp. Check out the Justspin class for cycling intervals.
Free offer: One-day trial
Original cost: $21 for a day pass

Day 30: Haute Heart BK

You don’t have to splurge at SoulCycle or FlyWheel to experience the spin phenomenon (an apt workout choice for your last free day of the month). A petite cycling studio -- Haute Heart -- has opened in Bushwick, and has the kind of welcoming atmosphere you usually only find with an independently owned business (children are even invited to wait in the lobby while parents go for a spin). Look out for complimentary class days, when new clients can register for class free of charge. Can’t wait for the next one? New students can also enjoy an unlimited week of classes for only $25 (that’s less than $4 per class).
Free offer: Free class days for new clients
Original cost: $20

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Shelby Tanner fled the suburbs to live in NYC. She’s not ashamed by how much Splenda she dumps into her coffee.