Let’s get fiscal: A gym-hopping tour of free fitness trials

Let's get physical. Fiscally physical.

Let’s get physical. Fiscally physical.

I’ve been getting around — with fitness centers in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, that is. In two months I have been with six different gyms. While I was with some for as long as a month, others were completely shameless one-day stands.

On New Year’s Day I received an e-mail from New York Sports Club, which, like an ex-boyfriend, was begging to have me back, and offering a deal as incentive: Thirty days for $30. Was I willing to get back with an ex for a dollar a day? You bet I was. The trick would be avoiding a commitment to this relationship, which would cost $70 a month if I joined after the trial. On day 30, an employee asked if I was interested in joining. I shrugged and told her I couldn’t afford it. What can I say, NYSC? It’s not you, it’s me.

Plus, this is New York, a city of opportunity. There must be promotions and free trials at every gym, and no-one would ever know if I took advantage of every one. With an impudent grin, I got on my MacBook and started googling.Here is my guide to promiscuous free gym trials in and around Brooklyn.

Harbor Fitness beach body boot camp, via FB.

Harbor Fitness beach body boot camp, via FB.

1.Harbor Fitness, Park Slope/Bay Ridge/Mill Basin – 7-DAY FREE TRIAL

I appreciate convenience in a relationship, so I headed to Harbor Fitness in Park Slope, just a few blocks from where I work. My seven days with this gym were magical. It was a handsome gym, with romantic lighting (not a fluorescent bulb in sight) and soft paint. It was hygienic, spacious, and overall lovely to be with. I’ll even admit I let it see me naked in the locker room. That might have seemed promising, but when day seven approached I packed up my locker and left, unabashed.

GYM CREDENTIALS: Harbor had a large cardio area with a variety of state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical and bikes. It had two and a half floors of weights and two group fitness studios with classes from Zumba to Boot Camp and yoga. Large as the studios were, at peak hours they were so packed people were spilling out the doors in Downward Dog. The locker room was large with clean facilities and amenities including towels and blow dryers.

VIBE: The crowd at Harbor reflected South Slope’s mixed vibe– from the young and new to the older and hispanic, from bodybuilders to yogis. I got to stretch next to a chick with purple hair and an “om” tattoo then bake in the sauna beside puerto rican women discussing their dinner plans in spanish.


I got a great workout at Harbor. The busy, high-energy atmosphere was motivating and the large layout and abundant machines kept my workouts interesting. Seven days was plenty of time to feel the burn. It was definitely worth it to use the free trial.

Gold's Gym BK Heights, via FB.

Gold’s Gym BK Heights, via FB.

2.Gold’s Gym, Brooklyn Heights – 7 DAY FREE PASS

Next I headed to Gold’s Gym in Brooklyn Heights to redeem my seven day free pass, advertised on its website. On our first date, I realized I had downgraded. Gold’s Gym wasn’t as big or attractive as Harbor, and it didn’t have as much variety in machines.

After a few days of getting to know each other I was surprised to find I actually adored Gold’s simplicity. I liked that everything was on one floor and was never as crowded as Harbor. I enjoyed my time spent with Gold’s and was just beginning to feel attached when my free pass expired.

GYM CREDENTIALS: Gold’s had a moderately sized selection of cardio machines, many of which were somewhat outdated, specifically the ellipticals. It had two nicely sized group fitness studios with staples like Boot Camp and Yoga but also some more eccentric ones like Belly Dance and something called Clobbering Time. The locker room was modestly sized and mostly clean, but I’ll just say the showers didn’t make me feel like I was in an Herbal Essences advertisement.

VIBE: Gold’s crowd appeared to be mainly composed of old, white money from Brooklyn Heights, the after-work crowd from Downtown Brooklyn’s business district, and some older African-American women who spent a lot of time socializing in the locker rooms. The gym was close to empty even at peak times, with the largest crowds in the group classes.


I had a decent week of working out at Gold’s. A small crowd meant I always got on the machines I wanted, but also a lack of motivating energy. I didn’t find opportunity to secretly race with the guy on the treadmill next to me, considering he was in his eighties. Jokes aside, I got satisfactory burn value with my seven days at Gold’s.

Zumba time at the Prospect Park YMCA

Zumba time at the Prospect Park YMCA

3.The Prospect Park YMCA, Park Slope – GUEST PASS – One day only, through existing member

To my disdain, many gyms in my area didn’t offer the generous gift of seven days like Harbor and Gold’s did. The Prospect Park YMCA in Park Slope didn’t even offer a one-day pass. Luckily, I knew that they are generous with guest passes for members, and I happened to be friends with one.

The gym at the Y was modestly sized, hygienic, good-looking, and had a good personality. We got along great. We even did yoga together. I think it liked me. I felt sorry, knowing it would probably never hear from me again.

GYM CREDENTIALS: The fitness center at the Prospect Park Y is one floor. Their machines are impressively up-to-date, especially the treadmills which have individualized built-in screens with cable TV and video games. They have one small group fitness studio. I liked their yoga teacher. Unlike most fitness centers, the Y also has a large running track and swimming pool. Their locker rooms have both a sauna and steam room.

VIBE: The vibe of the Prospect Park Y held true to the family-oriented atmosphere you would expect at a community center. The crowd ranged in age from teenagers to grandparents and in type from athletic to, well, not athletic. I went after work and it was considerably empty. They probably get most of their action during the day from Park Slope artist-soccer moms.


A one-day guest pass wasn’t long enough to feel much of a burn at the Y. The yoga was great in a gentle, soothing way, but I didn’t break much of a sweat. The fancy treadmill would have been awesome if I hadn’t eaten greasy Chinese food beforehand.

Blink's Noho location, via FB.

Blink’s Noho location, via FB.

4.Blink Fitness, NoHo/Harlem/Flatbush Ave/Nostrand Ave/More– ONE DAY FREE PASS

That weekend, I found myself in SoHo with an hour to kill before meeting a friend. I had my gym gear in my backpack and figured I could Yelp a nearby gym for a quickie. Blink Fitness on E. 4th Street had a one-day free trial pass. Its name was fitting. I’d be in and out of there in a blink.

My only complaint of Blink Fitness is that the staff didn’t provide towels. I arrived planning to shower there, my towel miles away in an entirely different borough. But gym sluts can’t be beggars. Seeing no other option, I showered, shook dry, and bravely walked through the locker room exposed. I hadn’t planned to go this far on a first (and last) date. I felt a bit taken advantage of.

GYM CREDENTIALS: Blink was large, clean and organized. It had one large floor of machines. Its cardio devices were mostly treadmills and a few outdated ellipticals and bikes. They had a large, basic stretch area and a weight section with a variety of new machines. Their locker room was tiny and claustrophobic. The showers were clean, probably because nobody uses them since there are no saunas or towels.

VIBE: Being a Brooklyn girl, I felt a bit nervous to sweat amongst flashy SoHo slickers. When I arrived at Blink, I realized it was a budget gym and that their target audience was more likely NYU students gone bankrupt from pricey liberal arts degrees. On a weekday afternoon the place was packed and the crowd was mostly that of young, female PR majors with ponytails and gay guys in neon.


The busy, high energy of Blink was motivating and considering I was only there for an hour, I felt a decent burn during my one-day freebie. It’s definitely worth it to to try Blink out if you’re ever in the neighborhood with time to kill– just remember to bring your own towel.

Eastern Athletics.

Eastern Athletics.

5Eastern Athletics – TriBeCa/Brooklyn Heights – GUEST PASS, through a friend only

Word was getting around about what a gym slut I was, and friends started offering me guest passes left and right. I went with one friend to Eastern Athletics in TriBeCa, a gym way too arrogant to invite you in unless you knew someone. I will, however, commend them for offering discounted memberships to students and recent graduates (without which my friend would not be a member).

I must voice one complaint about the disposition of Eastern’s members. One woman blatantly cursed out my friend for gently removing her Louis Vuitton bag from the vacant machine beside her. I should have known better than to date in TriBeCa.

GYM CREDENTIALS: Eastern Athletics was three floors of large, elegant loft space. Cardio, weights, and locker rooms each had their own massive floor. All of the machines were cutting edge. The locker room had a sauna and a steam room. I curiously inspected a bathroom stall and was surprised to not find a bidet.

VIBE: I went to Eastern early in the morning and the place was nearly empty but for a few members who probably represent the crowd well enough: one skinny, rich white dude, one beefy, rich white dude, and one aforementioned temperamental, skinny, rich white woman.


Despite the vibe-slaughter by the bitchy member, I had a decent free workout at Eastern Athletics. The machines kicked ass, and it’s hard not to feel good when pretending to be rich.


Gym hopping is good fun and I recommend it to New Yorkers with a tight budget and low shame factor.  Being a gym slut has its virtues. I saved a lot of money and kept my workouts and life interesting with different environments. Meanwhile, I compromised a lot, namely the predictability of what gym I’d come home to at the end of the day. At times I felt deceitful, showing up at these gyms and leading them to believe I wanted to commit when really I had no intention to join. Sometimes I do long to settle down with one gym for a while, and as soon as I can afford it I may just take the plunge.

2 Comment

  • You forgot the best workout: the free first class at CKO kickboxing! Silly!

  • I went to OTOM Gym on Calyer Street – I found it on http://www.fitdaypass.com and the pass was $10. I tried Retro Fitness in Prospect Park but it was jam packed and it took 5 minutes just to sign in. I’d probably use fit day pass again if i lived in BK