Travel duration: 7 days
Visited: Beginning of September, 2017
The Big Apple – New York City – is one of the most iconic, I could say, places in the word. That skyline. Those yellow cabs. That park in the middle of it all.
As cities go, it’s insanely busy, impressively expensive and has a great variety of activities to offer. How do you stay in shape in New York? Well, unsurprisingly, New York has plenty of memorable experiences to offer. See below for a summary of my fit fun discoveries in this memorable city.
Fit Fun in Manhattan:
- Cycle in the Central Park
Cycling is something that you can do for free (or at a very cheap rate) in most countries. This activity is great for so many reasons – burns calories, builds muscle, improves your well-being and boosts brain activity. In the New York City, Central Park is a place you want to cycle in. It is so huge that you can easily spend an entire day trying to explore it or make several trips to it, especially if you’re staying nearby.
If you want to ride a bike in the Central Park, it’s most convenient to rent it out outside the park as there are people from bike rental stores standing with big “Rent a bike” signs pretty much on every corner (at least on the South side where I came from). We managed to negotiate the price down, so ended up paying for 1 hour of rental, but having the bike for 3 hours in total. The competition is so big around there that you most certainly will get at least one hour for free.
There are plenty of other activities in the park too: you can run, cycle, chill in the meadow, row a little boat in the late, have a meal in few cafes that are in the park or visit Belvedere Castle that is right in the middle of the park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is in the Park if you fancy to explore some art after cycling. Take your time and enjoy!
Callisthenics (bodyweight based gymnastic exercises) is something I’ve became increasingly interested in since 2016. This form of exercising has grown in popularity over the last few years worldwide as it does not require one to have a gym membership. It is also not bound to a specific location – you can do callisthenics anywhere, anytime. It is also equipment free which makes it a great way to stay Fit On Trip.
In a new country I always try to find either a park that has some callisthenics equipment (i.e. pullup bars) or a callisthenics class I could attend. Whilst in New York, I tried a Callisthenics class with Mr Calisthenics (2 coaches, Mark & Rick) in Tompkins Square Park which was really good.
The class is suitable for people of any level as each exercise or exercise sequence has progressions and regressions for those who would like to take it easier or, on the contrary, make it harder. Overall, the coaches were great, the vibe in the class was seriously awesome and the exercises were challenging but yet fun. Definitely worth to try if you are nearby!
Gym membership is generally expensive in Manhattan. For example Equinox, which is a well-known gym brand in US, has a monthly membership that costs $235, in addition to membership initiation fee that is $500. Quite a big expense if you are around just for few days.
Most gyms in NYC have the “membership initiation” fee and contracts for a certain duration. However, there are few less expensive options that you could check out on your NYC trip:
- Planet Fitness: monthly membership is $10-21, depending on the membership type you select.
- Crunch: one of the rare gyms in Manhattan that has a free 1-day trial!
- Blink: another gym with a free trial option. Enjoy!
- Orange Theory: this studio does high intensity group personal training workouts. First session is free.
- Synergy Fitness: a 24/7 gym that offers (at least at the time of this blog) 4 free day passes for you and your friend.
The other gyms I looked at either did not have a free pass, a 1 visit option or were simply too expensive. If you know any other good options, let me know, as I will need more suitable options for my next stay in Manhattan!
- Equipment-based Pilates Class
Quite often Hollywood movies feature a scene where ladies are chatting in their pilates class while laying on some weirdly shaped exercise “beds”. I always wanted to find such a class to try and what better place to try this than New York?
Hence once I was in Manhattan, I went to check out a Wundabar workout in Soho area of Manhattan (yes, Wundaworkout for Wundabody, you got that right). It is an equipment-based pilates class targeting the entire body. What can I say: it was really good!
It is definitely harder than it looks. The equipment allows everyone to adjust the resistance you are working with whilst the constant flow of various exercises makes it really interesting. Overall the 45 minutes on that futuristic machine were pretty intense and I felt pleasantly tired after the class. Go, Wundabar!
- Other Fit Fun Stuff:
As I mentioned earlier, NYC is great for variety of different things one could do there. During my week-long trip in NYC I tried to squeeze in as much fit fun activities as I could, however a few unexplored places are still left on my “to try” list. These include:
- The Muse: Brooklyn, yes! If you are, like me, a fan of acrobatics, The Muse (a kind of Circus School) will be perfect for you. They have variety of classes for adults and kids: Acrobalance, various aerial classes, Chinese Pole and even a German Wheel! That will be my first stop next time I’m in NYC.
- Aqua-cycling class: these classes are now quite popular in other countries as well – it is essentially a spin class in the swimming pool. Good cardio with some added resistance – why not try?
- Kendo & Longsword classes: for those who are looking for a bit more adventure!
- Hip Hop Yoga. That’s right, yoga class to a hip-hop beat. If you are just like me (not a huge lovers of the standard yoga music), this might be something for you.
- CrossFit NYC: various level CrossFit classes. They also have a “first class for free” policy.
Big city with lots of activities for everyone’s taste. Go, explore and enjoy the Big Apple Fit Fun!
- Where to stay in Manhattan?
For those wandering where to stay, I would suggest the area marked below:
There are lovely areas within this particular area in general with a proper NYC vibe (and less tourists than in Times Square). There are plenty of activities happening around, lots of coffee shops and cafes with healthy food options, and lots of the “New York style” houses that you see in movies. You can also walk to quite a lot of places from here or use a Subway that’s conveniently located all around this area.
If you are looking for cheaper places to stay, try Brooklyn or Williamsburg. They are both just across the bridge from Manhattan and provide easy access to the City.
- How to get from the Airport (JFK) to Manhattan?
Take the Airtrain (Terminal 1) from JFK to Howard Beach (17 mins/ 8 stops), then the subway (we took A Line towards Inwood, 207 St. (41 mins/25 stops to Canal Street where we got off) to whatever subway station is closest to the place you’re staying. You pay for the Airtrain once you get off, so don’t worry about tickets in advance. You can pay for the Airtrain as well as buy your MetroCard (a card to put some credit on and use as a Subway ticket) from a ticket machine in the Howard Beach station.
What’s the weather like beginning of September?
The weather during our stay was fantastic: around 25-27C and sunny with infrequent rain – it got us only once throughout the entire week. We were told by locals that we got really lucky with the weather as apparently it was raining a week before, so I suggest taking an umbrella with you.
Overall verdict: New York is great if you are a lover of the busy city buzz. There are so many things that such a big metropolitan city has to offer: food, fitness, newest trends and constant action. Enjoy its vibe and all fit fun that New York City has to offer!