For anyone who is so upset about SoulCycle and Equinox owner Stephen Ross turning out to be an old friend (horrifying) of President Trump and throwing a fundraiser for his reelection campaign, I have some good news for you. You can just join the YMCA. It’s easy. It’s probably (definitely!) cheaper. It’s probably also more fun, as you don’t have to worrying about how you look on the treadmill next to someone who is sucking down a green juice on the StairMaster.
The thing about the YMCA—call it the Y if you’re nasty— is that its less-than-pristine history is already well-known: When gyms owned by the Young Men’s Christian Association first opened in the U.S. in the late 19th century, it was largely a place for white, Bible-studying men to meet and socialize (and later, body-build) while all around them, women gained more rights and immigrants entered the workforce.
But since then, the Y has transformed into a place of belonging, a kind of everyman and everywoman’s gym, a no-judgement zone not unlike Planet Fitness but without the obnoxious branding. I can attest to this, because even I once took a hip-hop dance class at my neighborhood YMCA, and despite being two to three steps behind every one else at every turn, I was welcomed back the next day.
The Y may have gotten a bad rep lately, mainly because the most unpopular politician in all of New York state Bill de Blasio, who lives on the Upper East Side, makes it a point to work out at the Park Slope YMCA almost every day. He does this even though he doesn’t even do that much during his workouts. And even he is allowed back in every day, despite bring nothing but shame to our community and probably the tri-state area.
What Equinox and SoulCycle have are lots of people in trendy leggings and admittedly nice-smelling soaps in the locker rooms (I assume, I have never set foot inside an Equinox, although I have often walked back the people in all black drinking smoothies outside of one in downtown Manhattan). The Y was never trendy, and so it is paradise if you want to work out in peace. Although membership prices vary by location, joining is, in all likelihood, more affordable than joining Equinox or SoulCycle. (One class at SoulCycle costs $36, without the shoes. A month at the Flatbush Y costs roughly $50, according to its website.)
Join me—just do not talk to me if you see me in cardio kickboxing.