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Hate the Gym? Get Fit for Cheap Without It

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I have an issue with the gym. Every time I walk into its dry, conditioned air, and see all the people running on their hamster tracks, all I can think is “THIS IS SO FUCKING UNNATURAL. Why are people doing this?” Well, except when I used to go to my old gym in the UK, that is. There, the cross-trainers were lined up perfectly in front of the rowing machines. Motivation for those having their asses watched, motivation for those watching asses… That place made sense.

But anyway, I still like to keep fit. Not like “there are no creases when I bend forward” fit, but like “oh, your apartment’s on the seventh floor and the lift is broken? No worries” fit. And the reason I tell you this isn’t just to alleviate my gym-avoidance guilt—it’s to set up the context in which I went hunting for gym alternatives that wouldn’t break the bank or bore me to tears.



I turned up to a free Capoeira taster class and instantly felt out of place. There was certainly no one else with a blonde ponytail, and I wanted to kick myself for wearing the yoga pants with my sorority letters across the bum. (Seriously, why do I still own those?) But we started the warm up, and by the time there was moisture on my forehead, I had decided now was not the time for girlie inhibitions. I was just going to suck it up and let out my inner fighter.

The learning the moves part was a seriously intense hour-and-a-half work out that destroyed my feet and left me stiff for days. But precious little me, who’s normally quite attached to her comfort zone, got pushed outside of it and actually had a bloody good time. So much so that when it came to the playing bit, with the drumming and the kicks and flips and scary stuff, I didn’t just hover around the edge of the circle. I actually “bought in” multiple times, and tried out my clumsy new moves on intense muscular fighting men. Any lonely girls out there who find themselves attracted to primal males, I’m talking to you when I say: Go to Capoeira.

I went to: Omulu Capoeira, FREE taster class.

Shape Up NYC


How the fuck does everyone not know about Shape Up NYC? I am totally mystified. Because these exercise classes, arranged in (admittedly bizarre) locations all over the city, are FREE. Not like free trial, free. F-R-E-E. The one I went to was on a Wednesday afternoon in the conference room on the fifth floor of the Wyckoff Medical Center. (Weird locations, like I said…) And it was brilliant. Only two other people showed up, and they were both ladies with enough voluptuousness to require the low intensity alternative work out, so I basically got an hour long personal training session with a wonderfully sweet, and impossibly tough fitness instructor. I will definitely be going back.

I went to: Shape Up NYC, FREE cardio sculpt class.



Ever since a nutty meditation retreat in Sri Lanka, I’ve been a bit iffy about yoga. It just seems like a whole lot of jargon, and even more patting yourselves on the back (quite literally, in some cases). But, hey, I live in Brooklyn. Avoiding yoga here is like avoiding baguettes in Paris (which, actually, I did for nearly eight months, but I’ve grown up since then and given up some of the deliberate contrariness). So I bit my tongue and found a studio that offers $8 classes and promises minimal yoga bullshit.

Was it wishy-washy and self-indulgent? A little. Can I count it as a workout? Probably not. Did I fall asleep in the relaxation portion of the class? Yeah, that snoring was me…

But did my body feel better afterwards? It did indeed. And will I be going back for their “hangover yoga” session, which includes a FREE Bloody Mary? Now that sounds like my kind of exercise…

I went to: The Cobra Club, $8 community yoga class.

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Daisy Rawcliffe - Vafrous Vagabond

Daisy Rawcliffe - Vafrous Vagabond

Daisy grew up in the English countryside, where money grew on apple trees and blackberry bushes. But for her 13th birthday, she got a backpack, which she instantly dragged across the Sinai Desert, and has been hauling around ever since. It has now explored four continents, and collected her the information she uses to convince people to go on holiday, which pays her the pittance she lives off. After too much time in a tent, she's currently trying to adjust to the norms of civilised society, which, fortunately, seem fairly lax in Brooklyn.

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