The Most Affordable Gyms + Workout Classes In NYC

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Living in a city where boutique fitness classes can set you back $35 a pop, where is the average New Yorker supposed to find the motivation or money to keep up?! Don’t worry. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite ways to work out in NYC that won’t put a dent in your budget, but also feel like more of a social event than just running the stairs of your fifth floor walkup to stay in shape. 

Park and Recreation Centers

One of the best deals in town, it’s a shocker to me that more people don’t seem to know about this. A year long gym membership to a fitness center with an indoor pool will set you back only $150 for the entire year, PLUS you’ll have access to 15 gym locations around NYC. You would think such a steal would have these venues overflowing with people, but I’ve never had to wait in line for a machine, plus there’s an indoor track at the location I frequent which is great for shoddy weather, and loads of classes! Bonus: if you are between the ages of 18-24 or 55 and up, a yearly membership is only $25. Wrap your head around that!

Community Classes at Yoga Studios

While the typical yoga class lingers at around $25, almost all studios offer what they call “community classes”. These classes are offered at either a very reduced rate, for free, or for whatever donation you feel like giving. It’s a great way for the yoga studios to test out new teachers, as well as introduce new members to their community, and it’s a superb way for you to get your downward dog on for cheap. Studios typically offer these classes once a week, so check the website of the spot you’re interested in, or just give them a call.

Scottish Country Dance Classes

Why not infuse a little culture in your workout? For a $12 drop-in fee, you can experience Scottish Country Dancing, which includes the dance lesson, a tea break, and then social dancing, every week in Midtown.

Budget Friendly Gyms

If you don’t live particularly close to one of the Park and Recreation Centers, but you have either a Planet Fitness, Blink Fitness, or New York Sports Club nearby, you’re in luck. Monthly memberships are very affordable at these three gyms, currently starting at $10 a month at Planet Fitness, $15 a month at Blink Fitness, and $20 a month at certain New York Sports Club locations. It pays to pop in and chat with a membership coordinator, as they can often hook you up with deals even if there’s not a publicized special happening.

Fitness Hacking

Another way to get lots of workout time in for free is something I like to call Fitness Hacking. Here’s what you do: find out if the gym you’re interested in has a free trial period (some offer a day, some a week), sign up, and use the hell out of it. After the trial is over, sign up for another at a different gym. Granted, you may have to dodge the phone calls of the membership coordinator for a few days, but cell phones make it easy peasy to screen calls, so no big deal, right? Over my 12 years of living in NYC, I’ve done this at Crunch Fitness, New York Sports Club, Equinox, Planet Fitness, Lucille Roberts, and New York Health and Racquet Club.

This is especially helpful if you have a specific event coming up you want to train extra hard for during a short period of time (say, a wedding, trip to Miami, or a 5K charity run), but don’t want to commit to a year-long contract at a gym, or the pricey month-to-month memberships. Combine all the free offers happening at any one time in NYC, and you have a solid month’s worth of free workouts at nice gyms!

Would love to know…how do you work out for free or cheap in NYC? Share below!

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