New York City is a teeming metropolis which is always bustling and busy but the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which has the stewardship of nearly 29000 acres of land which amounts to nearly 14% of New York City’s land mass, ensures that New Yorkers have a place to rest and relax by indulging in sports and recreation programs.

In order to fulfill this endeavor the Parks and Recreation Department operates more than 800 athletic fields, 1000 playgrounds, 550 tennis courts, 66 public pools, 48 recreation centers, 13 golf courses in all the five boroughs of New York City. Apart from the Parks and Recreation Department which offers public access parks and recreation facilities to the many residents of New York City there are several privately run and operated centers that offer sports and recreation facilities to busy New Yorkers as well.

Recreation Centers and Fitness Centers

The Parks Department runs a extensive network of recreation and fitness centers that offer affordable services like indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, dance studios, boxing rings, art studios, game rooms, and libraries. The city recreation centers require you to purchase a membership if you want to use them, but they are quite affordable. (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/recreationcenters)

Private fitness facilities are provided by a whole host of fitness centers in New York like the upscale Equinox Gyms (http://www.equinox.com/), the network of New York Sports Clubs (http://www.mysportsclubs.com/ndefault.htm) and even the centers of the YMCA network (http://www.ymcanyc.org) which are found all over New York City. Most gyms charge an initiation fee which ranges between $100-$200 before you become a member. Once you are a member you can expect to pay approximately $100 a month as member ship fees. These gyms offer a wide range of classes like spinning, yoga, dance, circuit training, personal training, racquet sports and much more. All gyms are equipped with fitness centers which are equipped with treadmills, elliptical trainers, bikes and weight stations.

The 92nd Street Y (http://www.92y.org/) which is an important cultural and sport center that has two locations in Manhattan also offers several fitness facilities as does the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex which is located on the extreme west side of Manhattan (http://www.chelseapiers.com).

Golf

The Parks and Recreation Department ((http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/golf) operates 13 golf courses which can be found in all the five boroughs. You can play golf at the NYC resident rate at one of these courses if you have a valid NYC golf resident permit. A New York resident can obtain a permit at any of the public golf courses in NYC by showing a photo ID and a proof of residency which can be a utility bill. Permits currently cost $6 for adults and $2 for juniors and seniors. If you provide your own photograph with your ID then the permit is issued free of charge. However additional fees have to be paid for the use of these courses.

The multi-sport and entertainment complex of Chelsea Piers (see website above) has a driving range and facility for indoor golf as well.

Tennis

New York City is the host city of the U.S. Open which is a tournament that is counted towards the tennis grand slam and accordingly the sport is exceedingly popular among the many residents of New York City. In order to play at one of the many courts run by the city at various locations you need to have a tennis permit or single play ticket.

The application for a tennis permit can be downloaded from the website of the Parks and Recreation Department ((http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/tennis) and has to be submitted at the tennis court where you intend to play. These tennis courts are mainly hard surface outdoor courts but the city also operates a few indoor courts. The details of the type of courts can be found the website of the Parks department.

Along with the application form you have to submit a passport sized photograph and proof of age which can be a passport/birth certificate/valid driver license. Fees have to be paid by check or a money order payable to “N.Y.C. Parks & Recreation” and you also have to include a self addressed envelope.

Apart from these public courts New York City is equipped with many private tennis clubs like the network of New York Health and Racquet clubs (http://nyhrc.com/) and the New York Tennis Club (http://www.newyorktennisclub.com/) which also offer tennis facilities.

Swimming Pools

The Parks and Recreation Department (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/pools) operates 54 outdoor pools all over the city. These pools traditionally open on Memorial Day (the last weekend in May) and close on Labor Day though the indoor pools that are operated by the Parks Department are open all year round. The pools are usually open from 11a to 3p and from 4p to 7p but these timings vary with individual pools. In order to use an indoor pool though you have to have a recreation center membership, this can be obtained by a New York City resident at a recreation center itself. You need to show two forms of photo ID to obtain this membership. If you would rather swim at a private facility you have to join a gym like New York Sports Club(http://www.mysportsclubs.com/default.htm) which is equipped with a pool at some of its locations or you could join a multi- sport facility like Chelsea Piers (see website above) or a swimming center like Asphalt Green which is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (http://www.asphaltgreen.org/). Several apartment buildings in the city are also equipped with their own pools.

Yoga

Yoga studios are found all over New York City and they tend to offer various different styles of yoga like Bikram yoga and power yoga. Many yoga studios offer free trial classes and coupons for free classes periodically. Some popular yoga schools that operate in the city include centers like Jivamukti Yoga (http://www.jivamuktiyoga.com/), Yogaworks which also offers teacher training courses (http://www.yogaworks.com/), Bikram Yoga of New York (http://www.bikramyoganyc.com/) which specializes in yoga asanas that are preformed in a heated room and power yoga at centers like (http://www.bigapplepoweryoga.com/).

Baseball and Basketball

The Parks and Recreation department also has numerous ball fields which are used for the popular American sport baseball (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/baseball).

The department also has indoor court facilities for basketball (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/basketball) at most of its recreation centers. Additionally some of these courts are also disabled friendly. Chelsea Piers (see website above) also offers indoor basketball and volleyball courts at its facility on the West Side of Manhattan.

Soccer

The sport of soccer is usually played at school level at many US schools though private sports facilities. Both Chelsea Piers and Asphalt Green offer facilities for soccer.

Other Sports

The Parks and Recreation department also operates fields that are used for sports like cricket which are not too popular in the US (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/cricket), offers boating and kayaking facilities on New York’s many waterways (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/boating) and it additionally maintains many bikeways and trails all over the city. Details of these bike paths can be found at (http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/bikeways).

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