Last year, I moved from my luxury, doorman, elevator building in the Financial District to a walkup in Chelsea. I love my new apartment, and I love my new neighborhood.
I love my new commute, my new favorite dive bar across the street and my new late-night-pizza spot around the corner. I love almost everything about Chelsea.
There is just one problem: My old building had a gym on the 19th floor that tenants were allowed to use for free. My new one does not. As such, I found myself looking for exercise alternatives that could meet my needs (read: wants). They included the following:
1. I needed something to keep myself motivated to leave not only my bed and apartment, but also my building. I considered both ClassPass and FitReserve, but these options were too expensive.
2. As I'm in my mid-20s, I'd rather spend any (hypothetical) extra cash I have at a bar or on a vacation. So, I needed something affordable.
This is when I came up with what I like to call “CYOC:” Create Your Own ClassPass. The theory is simple: Take advantage of as many gym promotions and first-time free offers as you can, in an attempt to work out for free for as long as possible until you finally have to give in and join a gym.
I've been doing “CYOC” for several months now, and have been working out several times a week. (This also includes running outside, which is always free.) I have yet to pay for a single class. Here are some tips for you to do the same, so that you can put that extra $199 to better use:
1. Sign up for mailing lists.
I hate junk mail as much as the next girl, but studios have promotions all the time. These can be hard to find sometimes, but signing up for mailing lists allows you to be the first to hear about Barry's Bootcamp's or Mile High Run Club's first-class-free offering.
Sign up for your favorite studios' mailing lists, and then actually read the emails they send out. You'll be surprised how many free opportunities come a-knocking.
2. Don't settle for the typical three-day free gym passes.
Most gyms offer three-day free trial passes. These can be great ways to get in free sweat sessions here and there.
Several (I'm looking at you, Crunch and NYSC) offer harder-to-find seven-day passes as well. Do a little digging before you settle for a shorter-term pass. It's all about getting the most bang for your buck (or lack thereof, in this case).
3. Several studios let you take classes for free with their newer instructors.
For example, SoulCycle offers free “community rides,” and Shadowbox offers “undercard series” with its new instructors, in order to let them get some real-life experience.
4. Check out all the studios that have first-time-free offers.
Don't be afraid to get outside your comfort zone and try new workouts you would normally avoid. You might as well if they're free.
Here are some studios to check out: Bikram Yoga, Flywheel, AsOne Fitness, BFX, OrangeTheory, Krav Maga and Physique 57, just to name a few. Do some research, and you'll find that the city is full of free fitness classes that are just waiting to become yours for the taking.
5. As the weather gets warmer, check out the Shape Up NYC program by the NYC Parks department.
It has tons of free fitness classes around the city.
6. There are a number of athletic apparel stores that have studios around NYC.
All of them offer their classes for free every time, just to get you through the door. Check out their websites and sign up a week in advance to secure spots for free classes at Athleta Flatiron or Sweaty Betty.
Working out for free “the whole time, every time” – my mom's favorite condom euphemism – doesn't come without its downfalls. Sometimes, excessive schmoozing, minimal lying or inconvenient travel time makes me feel like it's not worth it.
But then, I remember the $200 a month I'm saving. I think of all the Pinot Grigio and late-night pizza I can buy, and I power on.