Cheap Exercise in New York City

By Caroline Thirkill

Every year on Thanksgiving, I think to myself, “I’m not going to eat as much as last year. I was so sick the next day, I have to slow down!” Then I catch sight of that delicious turkey and I stop thinking about anything but trying to consume the largest meal possible! As a result, my day after is painful (again!), and I don’t think my stomach has gotten over it yet. Here are some fun ideas about how to lose that Thanksgiving weight on a student budget around the city. These are four really cool and cheap things to do in the city during this time of year that will hopefully burn calories too!

Free Yoga

Grab your skates, sisterand work those buns!

There is a fabulous place downtown called Yoga to the People, where they offer all sorts of free yoga lessons. While they encourage you to donate $10, and it does cost money to rent a mat, this is one of the cheapest ways to work out in New York. There are five different locations that offer both traditional-style Yoga, and “hot” Yoga. For anyone who has never done “hot Yoga” before, trust me, try the regular yoga first. Doing yoga for an hour in a steaming hot room with several other sweaty people is definitely a hardcore work-out. There are classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced—the only thing they ask is that you try your hardest. The only real downside to Yoga to the People is that it is almost always very crowded. Check out their website to find the location and type that best works for you.

Skating at Citi Pond
I am personally very, very bad at ice skating. I can never get through a few laps without falling flat on my butt! Despite this, I do enjoy it, and often subject myself to the indignity. One of the best places to do this is at Citi Pond at Bryant Park. It can get kind of pricy if you don’t own your own skates, at $14 for skate rental, but if you already have a pair, getting on the ice is completely free! Skating is a fun way to pretend you aren’t working out when you actually really are. To lose even more weight, pile on layers of clothes and sweat it out! People will just think you get cold weirdly easily.

Alternatively, you could just look
at pictures of Yoga Cats.

Free Classes at the JCC
Even though it is the Jewish Community Center, you don’t actually have to be Jewish to go there. They offer free classes in everything from Zumba to Ballet, Yoga to Gyrokinesis, and even a dance style called Silk Moves, where they teach you how to dance with a ribbon of silk fabric. They also offer free classes on eating healthy and meditation. Since I’ve never gone myself, I’m not sure whether or not you need a membership, but they are are reasonably priced with discounts for those under 25 and in college. A membership also gives you access to the pool, basketball courts, and a whole bunch of gym stuff that’s in much better condition than anything Dodge or the Barnard Gym can offer. Best of all, they are located at Amsterdam and 76th St. so only a quick walk and subway ride away!

The Department of Parks and Recreation offers a whole bunch of free activities throughout the year to help you get in shape through their BeFit program. They offer free classes in everything from Belly Dancing to Kickboxing – they are all listed on their website. Sometimes the classes are a bit hard to find, since they are hosted in recreation centers throughout the city, but getting these experiences for free is more than worth the subway fare to get there!

Give any of these a try, but also look online and keep an eye out for other opportunities. You never know when free calorie-burning fun might come your way.

Caroline is a sophomore at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Photos courtesy of Office Links and Funny Cat Pictures.


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