No Catch, Just a Release: Free Fitness Classes in NYC

Free yoga Brooklyn Bridge Park

Looking for a little incentive to get outdoors and exercise? Thanks to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and local fitness enthusiasts, there are plenty of opportunities across the five boroughs for all fitness levels and ages to enjoy the greenery while getting in some relaxing, healthy movement. Here are some of our favorite free fitness classes in NYC.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy invites you to bring a mat, towel, and water to Pier 6 for their summer of Waterfront Workouts. From Morning Yoga to Sunset Pilates get ready to sweat and merge mind, body, soul, and skyline.

Part contemporary art garden, part al fresco gym, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City is one of New York’s hidden gems, hosting free aerobics classes on Saturdays and Sundays into October. Whether you want to work on your breathing, strengthen your core, or learn self-defense, Socrates Sculpture Park offers everything from yoga to Capoeira to pilates to Tai Chi and even kayaking.

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation’s Shape Up NYC program offers free classes every week taught by qualified instructors. You may find an African Dance class at St. Mary’s Recreation Center in the Bronx. Yogis may gather on Saturday mornings at Rockaway Beach and the A.R.R.O.W. Field House in Queens. A more elderly crowd congregates for a Senior Fitness Class on Monday and Thursday mornings at Independence Towers Senior/Community Center in Brooklyn. Staten Islanders can choose between a Body Conditioning or more dynamic Zumba class at the Greenbelt Recreation Center.

The Rise NYC courtesy of OutdoorFest

Those who love burpees, sprints and high fives should join one of the free daily workouts offered by The Rise NYC or weekly workouts by the local chapter of the November Project.

If you’re ready to go to the beach but are missing one key element—swimming skills—NYC’s parks are offering free swimming lessons to all New Yorkers regardless of age. There is Open Lap Swimming for the more water-adept, Adapted Aquatics lessons for mentally and physically challenged persons, and Senior Splash sessions, which include light water exercises. Those under 18 can enjoy free access to city recreation centers.

With so many (free) options, there is no excuse to sit around. Best of all, you’ll likely find an activity close enough to home that you can even walk, run or bike to it.

Photo: Etienne Frossard