By Tyffanie Ammeter
As someone new to living in New York City, I have been happily surprised by the number of free fitness occasions offered. I am the type of person who likes to workout in groups instead of phoning it in on the elliptical. Of course, machines like the treadmill and elliptical offer an excellent opportunity for indoor exercise, but if I have the chance, I will always pick a fitness class over such machines. So in the past few months, I have been taking advantage of the multitude of complimentary exercise classes offered all over the city, whether it is Zumba, yoga or even tai chi.
One such event was the full-afternoon event called City Salutations held on Sunday, September 8 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was put on by Flavorpill and sponsored by EmblemHealth. We lucked out with gorgeous weather that day—the sky was cerulean, the sun was out and the air was clean, setting the perfect scenario for beginners and advanced practitioners alike to come together and celebrate wellness and health.
The day kicked off with a tai chi class given by Thomas Droge and DJ’d by Natasha Blank. I found it to be a great way to center myself and get into my body (instead of my mind) as well as take in the beauty of the park and harbor. It also included a bit of free-style dance, which is always welcome to help pump up the energy!
Next up was an African dance class with Djoniba Mouflet from Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre. With the live drummers and Djoniba’s high energy, it was nearly impossible not to participate! He took us through a quick warm-up and then taught us some “choreography”. I use that term loosely because while there were specific moves we learned and in a specific order, there were no counts associated with each move. Instead, as is traditional in African dance, the drummers gave us the cue for when we should go on to the next move. After getting down and practicing the choreography several times, Djoniba ended the class by gathering everyone in a circle and giving people the chance to in the middle to dance however they wished. By the end of the 45 minute class, everyone was out of breath and sweating, but also smiling from ear to ear.
The day wound down with a 1.5 hour yoga class given by Seane Corn. DJ Drez spun the perfect beats to match our practice—whether smooth and soft while we were taking a moment to set an intention standing in tadasana with anjali mudra (often referred to as “prayer pose”), or upbeat with a lot of bass while building heat in Warrior 2. Seane gave us multiple opportunities to send out love to the universe while also working out our bodies.
Flavorpill and EmblemHealth passed out free yoga mats and snacks for everyone to relax, refuel and hydrate after a full day of physical activity!
So how can you get in on the FREE fitness action? Here are a few resources:
Teachers College Fitness Classes. No need to sign up, just show up 10-15 minutes before classes (held in Whittier Café) and enjoy!
Flavorpill NYC (http://beta.flavorpill.com/newyork) – New events are added all of the time. Flavorpill lists a multitude of events from yoga and fitness to dance parties, book fairs and concerts.
NYC Parks & Recreation (http://www.nycgovparks.org/)
Subpages BeFitNYC (http://www.nycgovparks.org/befitnyc) and Shape Up NYC (http://www.nycgovparks.org/programs/recreation/shape-up-nyc) for more information.
Also check Meetup.com, and stores like Lululemon that offer free events like in-store yoga and running clubs.