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10 Free and Cheap Ways To Stay Active In NYC

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc

In NYC, boutique fitness studios can charge upwards of $30 per workout class. Luxury gyms can charge $175/month and up in membership fees! While maintaining a fitness routine in NYC can be extraordinarily expensive, there are also many free and cheap ways to stay active, especially in the warmer months.

1. Shape Up NYC

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc dancing

Shape Up NYC is a “drop-in fitness program” that is 100% free with multiple locations across the five boroughs. All you have to do is go to the Shape Up website and select a fitness class near you. Shape Up even offers outdoor classes during the warmer months!

Some of the most popular fitness classes Shape Up offers include:

  • Zumba
  • Aerobic and Dance Aerobics
  • Yoga Boot Camp
  • Cardio Kickboxing
  • Dance to Great Abs

2. Go For a Run in Central Park 

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc central park

There is no better time to go for a run in Central Park than now! As of January 27, 2018, cars are no longer allowed in Central Park so the roads are now the property of runners, bikers, and walkers!

Going for a run or walk in Central Park is a great way to stay active in New York City. With a variety of terrain and beautiful scenery, Central Park provides runners with the ultimate running experience. Some of the most famous “running loops” in Central Park include:

  • A 6.1 mile loop (a full loop of central park)
  • Two 5 mile loops through the lower and upper sections of the park
  • 7 mile loop just south of the Tavern on the Green
  • 5 mile loop around the Reservoir
  • 5 Full Bridle Path loop 

3. Ride a Citi Bike 

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc citi bike

With over 12,000 bikes and 750 stations, biking in New York City has never been more accessible thanks to Citi Bike. A day pass on a Citi Bike costs $12. You can also purchase a $3 ride for 30 minutes and ride your Citi Bike to work. Download the Citi Bike app and find a bike rack near you!

4. Visit Top NYC Museums

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc museum

Visiting NYC’s museums is a great way to stay active while also appreciating world class art. Indoor museums are also a great option when it’s just too hot out. While many museums can be quite costly, there are opportunities to see many of them for free.

Check out this site which lists out all the museums you can visit for free. While some museums are always free or Pay What You Wish, some museums only offer discounted entry during certain days/hours. Here’s just a few world-renowned museums that offer discounted/free entry!

  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Cloisters
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • S.1 MoMa
  • Neue Gallery
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum
  • Brooklyn Botanical Garden
  • Bronx Zoo
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Frick Collection

5. Cross The Brooklyn Bridge

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc brooklyn bridge

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is an awesome way to stay active while appreciating a phenomenal view of the Manhattan skyline. First opened to the public in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States. The walk across the bridge is around 1.1 miles so budget around 30 minutes for the walk.

In addition, you can ride your bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. However, because of the sheer number of pedestrians, the bike lanes aren’t always clear.

6. New York City Yoga

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc yoga

One awesome way to relax and exercise in New York City is through yoga. Yoga has been proven to help with anything from anxiety disorders to IBS! With 100’s of yoga studios located throughout the five boroughs, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

However, boutique yoga studios can get quite expensive so be sure to check out some of the donation-based studios in the city. Many, like Yoga To The People, do have suggested donations – usually around $10 per class. Because these studios are so high in-demand and first come first serve, be sure to arrive early to grab a spot.

Don’t have a donation-based studio near you? Some yoga studios offer one or a few donation-based class per week, so do some research on yoga studios near you.

7. Who Needs Elevators? Take the Stairs!

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc steps

While taking the stairs may not always be pleasant, research has shown that there are numerous health benefits when you regularly take the stairs.

  • Did you know that climbing eight flight of stairs a day lowers the average early mortality risk by 33%?
  • Did you know that seven minutes of stair climbing a day can halve the risk of a heart attack over 10 years?

Challenge yourself to take the stairs in your apartment building, office, and subway commute. You can track how many flights you climb using your iPhone!

8. Rent a Boat or a Kayak 

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc central park rowing

One of the most picturesque ways to spend a weekend afternoon is by renting a boat at Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. Renting is only $15 an hour and is also first come first serve.

You can also rent free kayaks at a number of locations including the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse, Hudson River Park, and Kayak Staten Island. Be sure to check locations before you go since many have limited windows of operation and/or short time-limits to take the kayaks out.

9. Rock Climbing in NYC

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc bouldering

Check out DUMBO Boulders, one of the few outdoor rock climbing facilities in New York City.

Not only is it affordable ($10 for a day pass), it’s also located in Brooklyn Bridge Park right under the Manhattan Bridge. Because the walls are short enough, there is no need to climb with a harness. Even if you fall, there is a very soft rubber cushion that will break your fall.

10. Walk The High Line

free and cheap ways to stay active in nyc skyline

The High Line is 1.45 mile elevated walkway park repurposed from an abandoned railway on the west side of Manhattan. The park begins in the Meatpacking district, running through Chelsea, to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th street.

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer months (except for the Interim Walkway west of 11th Avenue, which is open until dusk). The walkway is decorated with beautiful landscaping and has sweeping views of the city and the Hudson River.

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