in eclectic curiosity

9 Free or Low-Cost Ways to Increase Your Physical Activity in NYC

I never cease to be amazed and amused by how much people complain about NYC: it’s too dirty, there are too many people, too many lights, too many potholes, too many homeless, too many tourists, too expensive, blah, blah, blah. Well, if it’s too much for you, then why are you still here? Get the fuck outta here already and move to someplace else! And then it will be less complaining about all of that stuff because you and your like (and your stuff) will be gone.

Yes, I’m a native Brooklynite.

What all those complainers miss are the lovely things about living here: Free Tuesdays at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, pay-what-you-wish admission to several of the city’s cultural institutions like the Met and the Brooklyn Museum, free concerts, the parks, the beaches, the waterfronts, the fitness activities.

The fitness activities?

Yes, the fitness activities.

In the past year, I have learned to swim and kayak for free, taken yoga classes where I paid $5, rode my bike all over Brooklyn, hosted a walking challenge, and supported my friends as they participated in group walks and runs.

These aren’t underground fitness collectives with secret handshakes or know-someone-who-knows-someone by invitation-only opportunities. Instead, all of them are open to everyone willing to do a little footwork, and most importantly, show up.

Here are the ones I like:


Shape Up NYC
Shape Up NYC is a FREE program. You do not need to be a member of a recreation center in order to attend a class, though you must bring a lock for classes held at recreation centers.

Walk NYC
Walk NYC is a FREE program that encourages New Yorkers of all ages to get fit while enjoying the outdoors. With funding provided by Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Parks will staff locations throughout the city with trained walking instructors to lead one-hour walks (unless otherwise noted).

Visit the websites of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse (Brooklyn), the Long Island City Boathouse (Queens), the Downtown Boathouse (Manhattan) and the Sebago Canoe Club (Canarsie) for walkup kayaking dates/times. They provide vests, kayaks, and paddles. But act fast, you only have about another month to get on the water.

Black Girls Run!
Several thousand women under Black Girls Run! have successfully shattered the myth that black women are not physically active.

NIKETOWN Run Club meets on Tuesdays and Thursday evening and Saturday mornings.

Healthy Families on the Move is a neighborhood initiative of Bedford-Stuyvesant. They meet Wednesdays in good weather at 6pm for warmups and 7pm for walk/runs/rides across from Applebee’s at Restoration Plaza.


Notice how there are more free options than ones you have to pay for. Notice.

Donation-based Yoga Classes
Almost all yoga studios offer a community class, but many of them are offered during the day. I like Brooklyn Yoga School, as all of their classes are donation-based. Cash and walk-in only.

Yoga, Pilates, and Fitness Passbooks are the best thing ever for the commitment-phobes or those looking to test out studios and gyms before making a commitment. Each book has at least 50 passes good for free classes throughout the five boroughs.They also offer them in Chicago, LA, and Houston. Tell your friends.

Also, Sacred Studio in Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill is offering a full week of pay-what-you-desire during their fall open house. In addition to their regular new member special and class packs.

These are just a fraction of what is available to help you meet your fitness goals, 24-hours a day.

So stop making excuses and get your butt into gear.

Where do you go to get exercise without breaking the bank in NYC?



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