Staying Fit Indoors

A guide to indoor exercises and fitness centers in Manhattan



The bouldering area of Central Rock Gym on West End. There are plenty of creative ways to work out indoors, whether at a gym or at home.


After months of lockdowns and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are struggling with the physical and mental health issues associated with being home-bound and isolated. It’s at times like these when physical exercise and working out are more important than ever. 

The physical and mental benefits of exercise have been well-documented by science. For millions across the globe who were forced to stay inside and limit physical activity since March, exercise and physical activity can not only help get you back into shape — it will also better your mental state.

While the falling temperatures may be worrisome for those yearning to exercise outdoors, there are plenty of indoor gyms, recreational centers and more surrounding Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) and in New York in general.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

There are a plethora of gyms and fitness centers to choose from around FLC. Gyms and fitness centers were only allowed to reopen on Sept. 2. Gyms must follow state guidelines on social distancing and cleaning workout equipment, such as maintaining a 33% maximum capacity and shutting off all water fountains. 

Among the many gyms immediately surrounding FLC, an Equinox fitness center located in the Shops at Columbus Circle, an EVF Performance CrossFit on 59th and 11th, and Frequency Fitness on 62nd and Amsterdam are student favorites. All of these gyms require memberships or require patrons to schedule sessions to enter. 

Exercise and physical activity are proven to be among the healthiest things you can do for your body, as they are linked to decreased stress and improved immune response in the body.

Likewise, the Ram Fit Center at Rose Hill reopened on Oct. 23. Students can enter the Ram Fit Center via reservation, although they will still need to follow a number of guidelines including wearing a mask and limiting gym goers to hour long sessions between cleanings. 

While gyms and fitness centers aren’t mandated to enforce mask-wearing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly encourages that patrons and staff wear some form of facial covering when possible. 

Any surfaces that are commonly touched, such as doorknobs, weightlifting bars or weights themselves, should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly with disinfectant. The same report also encourages the frequent use of sanitary wipes and paper towels and requires that businesses provide patrons with wipes and paper towels to clean both their hands and their equipment before, during and after use.

With all of these guidelines in place, preventing the spread of COVID-19 ultimately requires individuals to follow them. Keep you and everyone else healthy by wearing a mask and wiping down any and all equipment you come into contact with. While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread directly through drinking water, people are nonetheless encouraged to bring their own water bottles and to avoid using water fountains. 

Creative Indoor Workouts

For those looking to do more than just lift weights or run on treadmills, there are also a variety of indoor climbing gyms located in the Big Apple. Like other gyms and fitness centers, climbing gyms were forced to close when New York went into lockdown on March 20. Their reopening is contingent upon enforcing the same state guidelines and social distancing procedures as regular gyms.

The closest climbing gym to Lincoln Center is Central Rock Gym on 60th Street and 11th Avenue. Central Rock offers mostly bouldering — climbing on shorter walls without a harness — but it also has a taller wall for top rope, or harnessed climbing with a rope. Following state guidelines directed at gyms and fitness centers, climbing gyms like Central Rock require mask wearing. The climbing gym also offers liquid climbing chalk mixed with disinfectant to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 on climbing holds.

Across the East River in Long Island City lies the Cliffs at LIC, the largest climbing gym that the Empire City has to offer. With a vast selection of both bouldering and top rope problems to choose from, the Cliffs at LIC is well worth the trek to Queens. Like Central Rock Gym, the Cliffs at LIC require climbers to wear a mask and provides climbers with liquid chalk mixed with disinfectant.

Exercise and physical activity are proven to be among the healthiest things you can do for your body, as they are linked to decreased stress and improved immune response in the body. What constitutes adequate exercise ultimately comes down to the individual, so don’t feel pressured to start hitting the gym right away — work at your own pace.

At-Home Workouts 

Staying active doesn’t necessarily require that you leave your home. Indeed, there are many different ways in which you can exercise within the confines of your home. No weights? No problem! Among the various exercises you can do within your room with only your bodyweight are pushups, squats, lunges and planks. How many of each you do and how often you do them is entirely up to you, although the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day for five days. An Observer guide to online exercises and workouts can be found here.

Yoga is another activity that can improve your physical and mental wellbeing by reducing stress while also improving reflexes and breathing. There are plenty of different poses to choose from, but feel free to start with whichever ones are easiest for you. With time and practice, you’ll find it easier to perform more complicated poses. 

Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is not only good for you, but it also will improve your workout. There are many other benefits associated with staying hydrated, such as improved immune response, increased flexibility, enhanced muscular strength and improved cardio.