Free fitness classes in New York City

Staying fit on a student budget doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you live in NYC.


Lauren Simon

Free health classes are available in Washington Square Park.

Natalia Barr, Staff Writer

Since late-night food deliveries, free pizza and Netflix binge sessions have become nearly inevitable aspects of the college experience, many students have found it necessary to exercise to avoid the Freshman 15. However, many students also find working out with a budget constricting despite having access to Palladium and Coles, which may sometimes feel limiting. Thankfully, free and fun fitness activities are offered all over Manhattan for students to partake in. Whether it’s seeking out for the energy and motivation that can only be found in a class, or just wanting to try out a new environment for regular workouts, these locations offer exciting exercise opportunities that will get anyone moving at no cost.

NYC Parks

Location: Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, Riverside Park South

Time: Various

Parks around Manhattan, as well as in other boroughs, offer fitness classes all summer long, some of which last through the fall. Go straight from class to Washington Square Park for Tai Chi, yoga or dance classes. Take the short trip to Bryant Park for their FitClub Boot Camp, or learn from the experts from barre3 at a free Barre class. Head a little further uptown and take advantage of the remaining classes of NYC Parks’ “Summer on the Hudson” festival. The program offers Zumba, sunset yoga and other classes — all with a waterfront view.

Yoga to the People

Location: 12 Saint Mark’s Place

Time: Various

Yoga to the People prides itself in encapsulating what it consider to be the true principle of yoga — to be available to everyone. The donation-based studio writes on its website, “Yoga is meant to help strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one!” There are five YTTP studios in Manhattan, the closest to campus being the Saint Mark’s location, which offers power vinyasa flow classes every day. The studio accepts yogis at all levels and provides mat rentals for a budget-friendly $2.

The November Project

Location: Gracie Mansion Groto at 86th Street and East River

Time: Every Wednesday at 5:28, 6:28 a.m.

These weekly workout classes do not require any form of registration or payment. The November Project tells all of its current or prospective members, “Just show up.” Anyone willing to get out of bed and make it to Gracie Mansion early Wednesday mornings will experience an intense workout that involves community building just as much as it does exercising.  

Nike+ NYC

Location: Nike Running Flatiron at 156 5th Ave.

Time: Various

Nike+NYC is a program within the global Nike community that provides its members with city-wide services and events, all free of charge. These include the free Nike + Running and Nike + Training sessions, lead by Nike coaches, trainers and pacers. Becoming a member also gives you free shipping on Nike purchases, as well as access to events like athlete appearances and private shopping events.

Jack Rabbit

Location: 42 West 14th St.  

Time: Various

This running and triathlon specialty store also holds free weekly group runs. Runners have the chance to pick a group run based on the distance covered, location, or even theme. Join the Social Run to explore NYC and meet new people, or partake in the Pizza Run, where after running a few miles, partakers can reward themselves with a slice or two.

Email Natalia Barr at [email protected]