How ordinary people can fulfill exercise goals this year It's the same old story-New Year's rolls around and New Yorkers everywhere march proudly to the gym, armed with shiny new sports gear and a can-do attitude. "This year's going to be different," they think. By mid-January, spirits are waning. By February, most have fallen off the wagon. By March, only the staunchest holdouts remain, much like a win-a-car competition where you must be physically touching the prize car for days to win. If this story sounds familiar and you don't want to feel like you've let yourself down this year, pay attention. We've located some of the best opportunities in the city to get you motivated to stay fit without breaking your budget and with the necessary safeguards to keep you going back week after week. If it's the pressure of all the burly athletes around you that keeps you away from the gym, but you love to socialize while getting fit, New York City Social Sports Club is your best bet. Amy Short, president and founder of NYC Social, says the organization was established nine years ago to provide community building as well as fitness opportunities. "The sports are all really accessible," she said. "They're playground sports, things you played since childhood. With something like inner tube water polo no one's automatically really good, so it levels the playing field and people feel comfortable." You don't have to be a big-time athlete to participate in the club's leagues; in fact, you're encouraged not to be, and the friends you make on the court will hold you accountable for showing up to weekly games. "We really cater to free agents," Short said. "People can sign up on their own and we're happy to place them on a team or large groups. "We also work really hard to keep prices reasonable," she added. Just be careful about indulging at the bar afterward-that's where you risk undoing all your hard work. If you're worried once- or twice-a-week games won't help you stay in shape, many teams get together for a casual practice session throughout the week, and build a foundation for lasting athletic companionship well after the season has ended. Despite the "playground games," Short said the club is not just for kids either. "We recently added Gen X divisions," she explains. "Typically clients are in their twenties or thirties. We know there are folks who are older who would like to do something fun and active and make friends, so we've started our Gen X divisions which cater to that demographic." According to Short, the club's sports are so fun you may not even feel like you're getting exercise (but, unless you join the trivia team, you probably are). The new season starts in the middle of January, and those leagues run for 10 weeks. If you're not necessarily the club-oriented type, we've taken you into consideration too. Yoga to the People's motto is "Yoga is meant to help strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one!" YTTP makes the practice of yoga accessible to everyone, whether they're 5 years old or 80, meaning you have absolutely no excuse not to show up to their classes. The St. Marks YTTP studio offers a complete schedule of donation-based classes and $2 mat rentals. Finally, Shape Up NYC is a local government program that continually provides free classes throughout the city with the goal of getting-and keeping-New Yorkers fit. Meghan Lalor of Shape Up says: "With the help of trained professionals, [people who participate in Shape Up] will be able to meet achievable goals of losing weight and staying in shape." Shape Up offers regular classes-from African dance to self-defense-all year long throughout the downtown area, with the accessibility and eclectic options to keep you going back well after the New Year's honeymoon period.
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