According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index, New Yorkers ran 24th compared to other cities in America on how fit they are. The good news is that New Yorkers score in the high percentage when it comes to how much city land is designated as “park area”, how may of us use public transportation for work, how many of us use bicycles or work to commute and how many dog parks there are. We also spend more than any other city–upwards of $160 a month-on monthly gym memberships. Most importantly, we have options. For the hardcore fit-obsessed to the casual calorie burner, whether looking to spend or splurge, New Yorkers have every type of fitness at their fingertips. Below are some of our favorites.
Splurge on One of The Many Boutique Fitness Crazes in The City – Soul Cycle, Physique 57, CrossFit, New York has been swept by boutique fitness classes beloved by celebrities and promising life-changing body results by highly qualified teachers who offer a lot of personalized attention. While they are more expensive than a gym membership ($30-$38 for 45 to 60 minutes) that usually includes free classes, the upside is that they tend to have strict cancellation policies so you’ll have a hard time hitting the snooze button or blowing one off after work.
ten participating fitness classes throughout the city. You have 30 days to use them and they range from Barry’s Bootcamp to Bikram Yoga NYC. It is a great way to try out boutique classes in the city you otherwise wouldn’t be ready to commit $30 plus to. Beware of cancellation fees and like Groupon, some classes can be hard to reserve during busy times.
Take Advantage of “Make New York Your Gym” – This campaign was launched in 2001 to help New Yorkers get fit. With everything from Running to Yoga and flash mob Zumba you can take advantage of a wide range of free fitness in one of the many New York City Parks. Go to befitnyc.com to search for activities in every borough.
Make New York City Staircases Your Gym – Yet another free and accessible resource, there is no shortage of stairs to climb in NYC. Considered impact friendly for knees and feet compared to running, stair climbing burns calories and works the glutes, quads and calf muscles. Subways and walk-ups are obvious choices for stair climbing, but if you are looking for something a little more strenuous check with your office building for their policy on stair use. According to the New York Department of State there are no uniform state building codes when it comes to stairwell use and individual buildings make their own decisions so you may need to request permission. For those ready to take their stair climbing to the next level, the New York Road Runners organizes Run-Up, a race up the Empire State Building’s 86 floors (that’s 1,576 stairs) 32 years in the making. The event is by invitation only.
Make New York Waterways Your Gym – NYC Swim organizes swim events around the waterways of New York. The events are created to highlight New York’s major landmarks and proceeds go towards supporting charities. According to NYC Swim, the Little Red Lighthouse Swim is the “largest 10k swim in the United States” and a “great way to get started in longer open water distance events.” More competitive events like The Brooklyn Bridge Swim scheduled for July 20, 2014 challenges you to swim across the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and features a Battle of The Bridge team component.
Swim Year Round For Free – If the idea of swimming in the open water is not your thing there are several indoor and outdoor pools offering free swimming lessons and Aquatics Programs year round. Outdoor pools are open from 11:00am to 7:00pm with a cleaning between 3:00pm and 4:00pm. There are also “early bird” and “night owl” swim hours available. Check out their “Know Before You Go” page to ensure you are up to speed on pool regulations. For instance, colored shirts are prohibited on decks (white only) as is magazines, newspapers, food and electronics.
Make New York City Playgrounds Your Gym…If You Have a Child Handy—Playgrounds are a great subcategory of how to Make New York Your Gym but this one is only for parents; or friends of parents who are willing to let them tag along to the playground. Adults are not permitted in playgrounds in city parks without a child. It isn’t clear how strictly this is enforced but better not to risk it. That said, playgrounds are a great place for pull-ups, chin-ups, and leg lifts.
Sign Up For a Yearlong Membership to Citi Bike. For $95 a year gets you unlimited 45 minute rides (15 minutes longer than the standard 30) and a chance to burn extra calories. The bikes are available 24hours a day 365 days of the year. The city also assists with helmet provisions. You can either visit their resources page to view a list of NYC bike shops (annual members get a $10 coupon off one helmet). You can also receive a free helmet and fitting from the Department of Transportation at one of their bicycle helmet events that happen around the city. Call 311 or click HERE for more information.
Create Your Own Walking Tour Based On Classic New York City Foods. For the sweat adverse looking to play tourist, check out www.walkoffthebigapple.com for calorie counts of your favorite New York Foods and where you need to walk to in order to burn them off. A slice of New York pizza (350) is a walk from the Morgan Library & Museum (Madison Avenue & 36th Street) to Cooper-Hewitt Museum (5th Avenue & E. 91st Street) while one slice of New York City Cheesecake (580 calories) will have you walking from Battery Park to the Plaza Hotel (59th & 5th Avenue).
Tap Into Your Inner Circus Girl/Guy. It’s not too late to join the circus—for an afternoon. The New York Trapeze School invites you to “forget fear” and “worry about the addiction” by offering trapeze classes at all levels. Other offerings from the school include Silks “two long pieces of soft fabric that hang from a single point”, Lyra a “metal hoop that is suspended from a single point” and the more complicated Spanish Web, an “aerial apparatus consisting of a rope with a loop attached” to it that requires a “flyer” and a “setter”. For something a little more tame, check out the free juggling classes in Bryant Park.
Join a League or Get Your Office To – Intramural Sports Leagues are a great way to get fit and meet people in New York. Zog Sports is a co-ed sports club that combines athletics with charitable causes. They have leagues in everything from softball and soccer to bowling and dodgeball. Each team picks a charity to play for and if the team wins, Zog Sports donates to their cause. NYC Social Sports Club is a co-ed league that has all of the sports leagues plus trivia, card games and scavenger hunts. Each league also has a “sponsor” bar where players meet for drinks. Other top leagues: New York Urban Professional Athletic League, NoPro Sports, UnitedSportsLeague.com. Different fees apply.
Take Advantage of Manhattan’s Island Status – New York City Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking at four locations throughout the city: Pier 40, Pier 96, West 72nd Street and Governors Island. You have to sign a waiver and are required to wear a life jacket to set off in a designated area for 20 minutes. Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse between Piers 1 and 2, Furman Street and Old Fulton Street, provides free kayaking also for 20 minutes out on the East River.
Make a Day of Getting Fit at Chelsea Piers – Defined as a 28-acre waterfront sports village, The Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex has everything a fitness seeking New Yorker could want: including golf, skating, batting cages, bowling, boxing, dance, gymnastics, rock climbing—just to name a few. A variety of Drop-In Programs are available and fees vary.
Save on Free Yoga – In addition to the free yoga offered through befitnyc.com, free and inexpensive yoga classes are offered throughout the city. Lululemon holds Sunday Salutations, a complimentary yoga class on Sunday mornings throughout the city. Perhaps the most popular, is Yoga To The People created for people that were getting priced out of yoga. They have 5 locations throughout the city that range from Power Vinyasa Flow to traditional hot yoga depending on the location. They have a suggested donation of $8 to $10 and no reservations are required.
Walk or Run Free of New York City Traffic – The city might be a lot of hustle and bustle but there are plenty of places to get out of traffic and go for a run or walk. The East River Esplanade goes from 60th Street all the way to the Triboro Bridge with views of the East River. You’ll have to contend with FDR noise during rush hour but off peak, it’s generally quiet. The Hudson River Park is 550-acre riverside park stretching from Battery Park to West 59th Street. The esplanade is designed for pedestrians and there is a bikeway a few feet away for bicyclists, rollerbladers and motorized scooters. The High Line, a 1.5 mile linear park built on a former elevated freight rail line is one of New York’s coolest escapes. There are several entrances, starting at Gansevoort Street and stretching up to 30th Street. The third and final section of the High Line will run up to 34th Street. Bicylces, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades are not permitted.
What are your favorite ways to stay fit in NYC? Leave a comment below.