ClassPass's recent price hike from $125 to $190 (a 100% price increase from its original $99 rate) generated about as much discussion as Beyoncé's Lemonade. Whether or not you think it was justified (their reasoning was that NYC studio drop-in rates have grown so high), we can all agree on one thing: working out in New York City is expensive. With fitness studios charging upwards of $35 for a single class, you have to wonder if part of their game plan is to drain your funds completely so you have nothing left to buy food.
The good news? There are plenty of free fitness options out there, if you know where to look. We did the hard work and put them all together for you -- here are eight free fitness options to try out this summer.
Got another free fitness recommendation in NYC? Let us know in the comments!
If you need a swift kick in the butt to start up a fitness regime, pay a visit to November Project's New York City chapter. The free fitness movement relies on accountability and intensity to motivate and encourage individuals to get out of bed and move on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Tribe vibes are strong, so you might get some serious FOMO if you end up sleeping through your alarm. In fact, the extremity of some members' allegiance is a little hard to understand (some members, including group leaders, travel over an hour to arrive at the 5:30am start time), but once you show up, we imagine you’ll be drinking the Kool-Aid and wearing branded buffs 24/7 like the rest of the clan. Check out November Project NYC on Facebook.
If the only thing that gets you to the gym is the promise of treats post-workout, pay a visit to NYC Fun Run's weekly event, Run & Chug. Every Wednesday at 7pm, the drinking club with a running problem meets at a bar for a casual jog that ends back inside the watering hole for some well-earned libations. All running levels are welcome, so don’t be discouraged if you’re new to the sport. After all, the point is to make it back to the bar, not beat the other runners (unless it's in a chugging contest). Find NYC Fun Run on Meetup.
Runners can be intimidating, especially because the length of their shorts reveals just enough thigh to make everyone uncomfortable. Luckily, The Most Informal Running Club, NYC was formed specifically to foster a judgement-free family of runners who really just want to hang out -- though they run, eat, and drink together quite a bit. Join the group on Saturday mornings for casually paced bRUNches, Monday nights for a more vigorous track workout, or Thursday nights for a speedy and social tempo run. And rest assured, most members’ shorts are an appropriate length. ‘Like’ The Most Informal Running Club, NYC on Facebook for future events.
The cost of training with nationally recognized sports medicine physician, best-selling author, and fitness instructor Jordan Metzl is worth at least four martinis (and we’re not talking happy hour prices). So the fact that you can train with him for free several times a month is quite literally a steal. Designed to include functional strength training for injury prevention and performance enhancement for athletes of all ages and abilities, Ironstrength Workouts are no walk in the park (though they’re usually held there -- typically Central Park). But least you won't be suffering alone! Metzl's cult-like following ensures you’ll be in good company. Check out the Ironstrength calendar here.
This no-frills, all-inclusive fitness group has free workouts every weekday morning, hitting every borough along the way. Each day of the week has a different focus, from high-intensity interval training, to boot camp bodyweight circuits, to yoga, to running hills up the Williamsburg Bridge -- so you can find the workout and day of the week that accommodates your preferences and schedule. The only catch? You have to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn to get there on time (workouts begin at 6:30am and end promptly at 7am). But since photos are posted on Facebook after every workout, soon enough you’ll have a badass new profile picture to show off. Because, ‘Pics or it didn’t happen,’ right? ‘Like’ ‘The Rise NYC’ on Facebook for future event invites.
If you hate commitment, Shape Up NYC's drop-in fitness program is the urban jungle’s Tinder of fitness options. For one thing, there’s no class registration -- just show up for whatever aerobics, yoga, Pilates, or cardio class you choose. While you shouldn't expect the fancy amenities that come with boutique fitness classes (meaning, bring your own yoga mat, locks, hair ties, and water bottles), you also won’t be shocked at your bank account balance the next day.
All summer long, The Meatpacking Business Improvement District and Samsung are bringing totally free 45-minute workout classes to Hudson River Park (on 10th Avenue between 14th and 15th streets). You can expect classes like yoga, bootcamp, and dance sessions on almost every Tuesday night throughout the season.
With all of these workout options, don't neglect your body’s need to stretch. Stop by Bryant Park and join a Tuesday morning or Thursday evening yoga session between May 19th and September 22nd. Presented by Athleta, these complementary outdoor classes are the perfect way to prepare your mind for a big day, or wind down after a stressful one. As a bonus, Athleta also provides yoga mats for you, so you don’t have to drag yours around all day or (shudder) bring it on the subway. Learn more here.
If you can't trust yourself to walk in and out of a store without buying something, we highly recommend exercising all caution when visiting Studio B at Bandier. But if you can walk past a pair of the most beautiful spandex you've ever seen and shrug, then Bandier's newly opened, spacious workout studio could, and should, soon be graced with your sweat. The studio, located in Bandier’s flagship Flatiron store, can fit up to 75 class-goers, and invites fitness instructors to host their own classes in the space. Most workouts will cost you, but the studio has also become a popular hotspot for free popup fitness classes -- so keep your eyes peeled for freebies, because you'll want to RSVP fast. Book at class at Studio B here.
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Erin Kelly is a writer, runner, and triathlete living in New York City. Her least favorite free workout is running to the 1 train. Follow her on Twitter at @erinkellysays.