Be body positive without going cash negative: Free summer workouts you can do today

We don't have a muscle beach in NYC, but any beach can be a muscle beach with these workout tips.

Maybe your New Year’s resolution didn’t work out as planned. Maybe the mild winter didn’t mean you exercised more. And maybe last year’s swimsuit is looking like one of those strings people wrap around ham before roasting it.

If running to catch the G is no longer cutting it and you’ve exhausted the city’s free gym trials, never fear; we’ve put together a guide to quintessential workouts for the busy brokester that’ll help quickly you get your beach body (whatever that means for you; we’re body positive here, and also free-stuff positive!) with still plenty of time to enjoy the summer. And if our all-day workout is just too rigorous for you, scroll on down to the bottom for suggested free activities to get in shape.

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AM Ab workout

Direct your morning commute rage away from the mariachi band and harness it for an early workout. Practice one-legged balance when standing on the train (make sure there’s a stranger nearby you can crash into if you fall), or do some simple reps of leg lifts and abdominal circles if you score an early morning seat.

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Lunchtime lunges

Why walk like a normal person when you can look like a complete weirdo? Lunge across the office, to the printer, on your lunchbreak. For that extra smack of crazy, add in some arm circles with each lunge. Your biceps, triceps, and thighs will thank you.

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Evening exercises

It’s hard to find time to squeeze in workouts between outdoor summer flicks and day trips to the beach. Still instead of sending your laundry off to be washed for you, head on over to Sunshine Laundromat for pinball and some light lifting.

Apart from lugging the (let’s face it) overstuffed Santa sack of stink to your laundromat, you can use your laundry bag instead of an exercise ball! Knock out side squats, tricep dips, shoulder curls and even plank pose for a full-body workout before moving clothes from the washer to the dryer. Then bring your newly washed clothing home on your sweat-soaked back.

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Nighttime Cardio

Necessity is the mother of all weight loss. Whether you got off at the wrong subway stop, took a wrong turn in a new neighborhood, or relied too heavily on Google maps on your now dead phone, getting lost is a great excuse to work on your interval training. You’ll find you’ve never run so fast than in an unfamiliar neighborhood after last call. When you finally do make it home, keep the momentum going by doing stair runs until you collapse.


True, this daily workout routine is rigorous. For those of you who can’t commit, there are plenty of other options to get in shape for free, without making a workout feel like work.

Volunteering is a great way to get outside and get fit. Give back to your city and look good doing it. You can even get paid to teach kiddos to bike.

Plus, North Brooklyn Boat Club is one of many organizations that offers free kayaking on weekends. Just get there early to secure your spot.

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And If all else fails, you can even join the alliance of New York Jedi to be as ripped as that dancing red sith.

Don’t let yourself become Jabba the Hut. Do the Brokelyn workout and pinch pennies between your rippling muscles instead. Summer’s calling.


Originally Posted on 6/22 in Brokelyn Magazine.

Be body positive without going cash negative: Free summer workouts you can do today

DUMBO on a Dime: A Brokester’s Guide to Hosting Tourists for a Day in Brooklyn

How to show out-of-towners a good time (for cheap) in Dumbo

Yeah, okay, okay, it's really pretty. dumbonyc / Flickr

The start of summer comes with an influx of pests: mosquitos, pantsplainers, street harassers… and of course tourists, some of whom happen to be your friends and family. As quaint as it can be to show them around and do a few touristy things, it can also be exhausting. There’s no doubt you’ll feel a financial strain within minutes of your first meal out, and a mental strain as try you explain to your beloved out-of-towners that he Rainbow Bagel isn’t worth the hype. But the next time your regularly-scheduled programming is interrupted by someone’s first trip to New York City, and Brooklyn at that, you won’t need to flounder for options, because you can simply take them on our Broketown Tours (TM) journey through DUMBO.

First an underutilized waterfront, then a refuge for artists, Dumbo has shifted from an area with one of the highest rents in the city over the course of just a few decades. So bring it back to its roots and still take in everything it has to offer without being an overcharged dumbo! We’ve put together a roundup of neighborhoods spots and sights that cater to tourists and locals alike in both their hype factors and their price points. Pace yourself and split food, and you can probably do most everything on this list for $20. After all, your tourist friends may only be here for a few days, but you live here, and you’ve still got a ways to go before you can afford your next vacation.


A visit to Dumbo wouldn’t be complete without visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park. From either the High St. (A/C) or York St. (F) stops, you can walk the park in its entirety, including stops at all the traditional attractions. As you stroll under the bridges or picnic at the tables set up by Jane’s Carousel ($2, free for ages 3 and under), kick back and enjoy the recently expanded Green Necklace making its way around the borough.

FREE highlights of the park include the public art, frequent events (hello, free summer movies), pickup basketball games and the new environmental education center. For a small fee, the piers also have roller skating ($6) and an all-new climbing wall ($9). All the while, there’s a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

While an entire day could be spent walking up and down the park, five minutes away you’ll find the Dorje Ling Buddhist Center (98 Gold St.), free to enter, where prayer flags are woven in between barbed wire fencing and Instagramming tourists are far less frequent. A quiet respite from walking under the deafening N/Q, this Tibetan center was established in 1991 and has since offered free access to activities, events, and practices for holidays.


Indulge your inner (and outer) feminist at A.I.R. via Facebook


The best part about shopping with tourists is that you don’t actually have to buy anything to experience it alongside them. And for a neighborhood so small, Dumbo offers a surprising number of one-of-a-kind boutiques and shops, including two incredible independent bookstores. Powerhouse Arena (37 Main St.) hosts book launches, readings, and signings from authors such as Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, and T.C. Boyle. Great for finding a quick souvenir or a break from the heat, plus a wealth of New York-based artists and authors available to browse. Around the corner is P.S. Bookshop, a secondhand and rare bookstore with reading chairs scattered throughout the musty shelves. While your friends fawn over Jonathan Franzen, you can leaf through that gently used copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you’ve been meaning to read, or just buy it for under $10.

On the first Thursday of each month, dozens of galleries participate in Dumbo’s Gallery Walk (free). But if you happen to visit Dumbo one of the other 30 days of the month, you’ll still trip over galleries almost as much as the cobblestones. Bring the folks to Masters PRJ (91 Water St.) for international contemporary art, get abstract at Minus Space (16 Main St..), or check out feminist gallery A.I.R. (155 Plymouth St.). Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Dumbo’s colorful street art along York street and under the bridges!

Craving some action? The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet (29 Jay St.) is a great alternative to the ballet at Lincoln Center, and tickets are way cheaper at $25-$35. Pro tip: if you can charm the staff members, you can even peek in on daytime rehearsals for free.


Sure, it's a little touristy. But who doesn't love the Shack?


You won’t be alone if you just want to brown-bag it in the park or under the bridge. But don’t force a grocery store lunch on your out-of-towners: a first-timer’s visit to New York wouldn’t be complete without trying the food.

Caffeine lovers can head over to Brooklyn Roasting Co. (25 Jay St.) at their historic roasting headquarters for a seriously good cappuccino. If you’d rather save money for your meal while your tourist friends try the coffee, though, you can just watch and smell the beans being roasted, chat up the knowledgeable staff, or walk through the bookshop that shares a door with the roasters.

Food trucks are everywhere in this increasingly commercial area, but for a cheaper option, split a pie at Grimaldi’s (1 Front St.), voted one of Brooklyn’s best coal-oven pizzerias. Pies start at $12. Alternatively, show your insider knowledge by heading to Juliana’s (19 Old Fulton St.), opened by Grimaldi’s founder, and located just next door. Pies start at $16.

If you’d rather do something without table service (splitting the bill has been known to end many a friendship) or those famished from a day of sightseeing, Shake Shack (1 Old Fulton St.) is great for picking up a to-go bag and doing a parkside picnic. Sip on one of their signature Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie-infused concrete shakes while taking the East River ferry ($4) for a cheap and ‘gram-worthy route to Manhattan or Greenpoint. (For anyone not blessed with a Shake Shack in their home state, this really can be a truly religious experience.)

On a hot day, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (Pier 11, Fulton Landing) is irresistible. Cones are around $5. But if the lineup is long or you’d rather indulge for cheaper, you can always take shelter in the air-conditioned and less expensive Jacques Torres Chocolate (66 Water St.), where chocolates run about $1.80 per piece.


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Good job, champ. Now go get Dumbo drunk.


You made it! You got through a whole day of sights, nosh and cultural experiences in Dumbo with tourists in tow, and you didn’t break the bank (we hope). Here at Brokelyn, we believe that deserves a drink. A cheap drink, of course. So here’s a list of great happy hours to enjoy with friends or family after a day well-spent:

Before heading home for the day, take advantage of these great happy hour specials:

From 2-7pm, 68 Jay Street Bar has $2 Yuengling bottles, $3 drafts and $4 glasses of wine.

From 4-7pm, Superfine (126 Front St.) features $3.50 well drinks, $3 draft beers, and free pool tables.

From 4-7pm, Olympia Wine Bar (54 Jay St.) touts $5 glasses of wine, plus a $12 cheese plate.

The quintessential “Brooklyn” experience? Following Rebecca on Twitter: @viewfromthest


Originally published on 5/16 in Brokelyn.

DUMBO on a Dime: A Brokester’s Guide to Hosting Tourists for a Day in Brooklyn

JUS by Julie’s Call for Artists: Mural for the Wall Outside the Nassau G

Originally posted on 2/9/16 on

JUS by Julie Entrance
JUS by Julie, opening at 629 Manhattan Ave by mid-February. Photo by Rebecca Stevens.

“I get excited every time I drive in – I love it here, and I’m excited to build relationships here,” Danny Laniado, retail project manager at JUS by Julie, commented as he surveyed his shop’s construction.

At the corner of Nassau and Manhattan, JUS by Julie is building its fourth Brooklyn location. “All this was supposed to be a Starbucks,” Laniado continues. “[but] I woke up one morning and I said, ‘this might be something.’ Next stop: Greenpoint.” 

JUS by Julie, opening in about a week, touts 100% vegan, certified kosher, GMO-free, and gluten-free soups, juices, cleanses, and salads made with ingredients from local farms and blended in their central Brooklyn warehouse. “The benefit that we have as a company is that we don’t blend on site, so there’s no noises…we can communicate with customers, and give them a place to relax and enjoy,” Laniado said.

Unlike Greenpoint’s assortment of competing juice bars, JUS by Julie is promoting a blended alternative to cold-press juices with more nutrients staying intact, and a knowledgeable staff that includes a certified nutritionist onsite for consultations. (Psst…they’re also looking to hire more.) “There’s no designated juice bar that can help people understand the health benefits…all our employees have to study [our products] forwards and backwards,” said Laniado.

JUS by Julie Mural Wall
This 16’x21′ Wall outside of the Nassau G stop, will soon be home to Greenpoint’s newest mural. Photo by Rebecca Stevens.

On the building’s exterior, a 16’x21’ wall lines the corner of the intersection, right above the northwest entrance to the G. “I know this is such an artistic community, and I want to be able to give them something…this is your wall,” said Laniado. JUS by Julie makes a point to personalize each store for their individual locations to best reflect the community, both in interior and, now exterior design.

To that end, Laniado and JUS by Julie want to enlist Greenpoint’s artists for a mural. The design is open-ended and the artist is being selected from the community of readers. Interested parties should contact Danny Laniado, retail project manager, at with pitches, sketches, and past work with “Greenpoint mural” in the subject line.

JUS by Julie will be opening their fourth store at 629 Manhattan ave. before mid-February, with an exclusive 3-day cleanse (18 juice) promotion for Greenpoint patrons.

JUS by Julie’s Call for Artists: Mural for the Wall Outside the Nassau G

Feminists Gone Wild: Going Topless for National Equality Day

This past weekend, I delighted in taking part in the annual Go Topless parade, in which dozens of women and men gathered to commemorate and celebrate NYC’s anniversary of topless equality, while advocating for the same privilege to be available on a national scale.

This was an incredible tee up to Women’s Equality Day, which happens to fall on the same day as, and get far less attention than, National Dog Day. Huh.

Which would you pick? The anniversary of the right to vote, or pictures of dogs in pajamas?


If that didn’t hurt to realize, hold onto your topless titties, ladies:

Despite the fact that nearly ten million more women comprised voter turnout in the last election, women make up just over 20% of office-holders, and just 14% of executive positions. That’s right: 95 years after gaining the right to vote, women still severely lag behind in leadership roles spanning from the political representation to leadership roles in the workforce.


When I arrived at the parade on Saturday, the reporters and smartphone-wielding oglers, pervs, and tourists easily outnumbered those marching. The very thing we were out there to de-stigmatize was being captured on camera as somehow being news-worthy, despite far more pressing issues at hand.

More encouraging was the wide range of feminists who turned out. I found myself walking beside a bare-chested, retired lawyer who was facilitating conversations between those marching and those watching about the right to choose. Later, I walked with a taste-of-your-own-medicine vigilante snapping pictures of photographers, in a radical, albeit conversation-halting act.

I also spoke with two reporters, one male and one female, both topless while conducting interviews. And a bullhorn-touting parade leader shouting “Put the ‘tit’ back in constitutional,” as women with chests covered in glitter took pictures with tourists and high-fived the police officers standing by.

It was incredible to see so many people gathered for the same cause, although our reasons were as varied as our bra sizes.

Personally, I marched to honor the women who fought for my right to vote, my right to choose, and my right to feel the breeze on my chest. And for the women still fighting for equal pay, equal rights, and the truly news-worthy, noteworthy, and inspiring rather than the simply provoking, shocking, and titillating.

**Originally published on on August 26, 2015**

Feminists Gone Wild: Going Topless for National Equality Day

Armory Arts Week in Review

The first weekend in March rang in the seventeenth year of the Armory Show, and brought critics, artists, (and wannabe-critics who are majoring in art history) out into the last of the cold days to gawk, sneer, admirer, and posture.

Piers 94 and 92 were packed with art from different countries, of different mediums, and with varying messages. The idea of the Armory Show is not only to celebrate New York’s distinctive artistic communities, but to have a wide scope of art in concert, to bring together artist on an international scale, and deepen the conversation that so often falls victim to the nepotism of artistry in the city.

Although the main event took place on Piers 94 and 92 for $45, the broke and art-curious are able to head to galleries throughout the five boroughs offering free shows. Armory Arts Week, a step-child of the Army Show, takes advantage of this influx of art enthusiasts every year to showcase the diverse selections of New York’s own artists.

Unlike the Armory show, Armory Arts Week allows lesser-known artists to submit their work: work that often doesn’t quite “fit” with other installations, or with a gallery’s carefully tailored vibe. It’s a time to see artists’ pet projects, half-baked concept art, and the kind of pieces that are done more for fun than to generate income or professionalization.

During Arts Week, you can see (and I did) a massive installation made of thousands of balloons, set as the archway of a certain Hell’s Kitchen gallery, a performance piece in which a man on a ladder inspects some Rocco-style art, and a small closet filled with moss that looks freshly pulled from Fern Gully. At the (Un)scene Arts show, patrons are rewarded with a painted sign reading “Free Ice Cream!” Baffled, the masses waited for someone to make the bold move to see if the Ben and Jerry’s miniatures are really there as snacks, or as art.

But the best part (and ideal illustration) of the surreal and difficult but delightful exhibit is the final room, dimly lit and filled with various photos. Only when the room was full did I realize that the attendant keeping watch had a second task: to close the doors, and turn a giant lever. The room (which we all then realized at that point was an elevator) takes you up a few more floors for the final segment of the installation.

From there, head to Chelsea for the Moving Image event, held in the brilliantly bright waterfront New York Tunnel event space. Tunnel events take place year round, and the space is perfect for drifting from one screen to the next. The people-watching is almost more entertaining that the many multimedia displays, although both the people and the artwork are incredibly wired.

If museum fatigue is starting to sink in, take a cue for the wired art show and make quick pit stop at Blue Bottle around the corner for a cup of siphoned coffee that’s so delicious, you won’t feel like too much of an art and coffee snob. Or at least you won’t care. Re-energized, head to the Clio Art Fair for a bright and invigorating mishmash of work. Here, the artists circulate and chat with you about their methodologies, inspirations, and future projects. At once the most down to earth and bizarre collection, Clio is the perfect spot to end your day.

Although there are almost too many galleries to fit even in all of Armory Arts Week, take advantage of this event, watch some performance art, and get inspired by the city in time for spring and sidewalk chalk.

**Originally published on on March 13, 2015**

Armory Arts Week in Review

My New Crush

It’s ten days until Valentine’s day, and the city is bleeding pink.

For the first time in years, I find myself not working in the service industry: Finally, a Valentine’s Day that isn’t all about making sure that every other couple has the perfect evening. However, this is complicated by the fact that for the first time in years, I’m also single.

And while February thirteenth is Galentine’s Day, and February fifteenth is Buy All The Discounted Chocolate You Can Carry Day, February fourteenth is a bouquet-lined minefield for those of us who are single. While I don’t align myself with those raging against the Hallmark Holiday, I also must admit that the last thing I want is to find myself fighting for a seat at a restaurant only to endure some couple sucking face while I try to eat.

So it seems appropriate to arm myself and those other twenty-something singles out there with some Saturday night options that don’t involve being a bitter third wheel, a despairing barfly, or a wallowing shut-in. The following is a list of things that will make you forget about Valentine’s Day altogether and have a blast.

  1. Check out “The Gathering,” an annual music and arts festival hosted by juggalos, and conveniently located right off the L. Nothing will make you feel less romantic and more voyeuristic than ICP’s unique brand of “SeXxplosive live music.” And believe it or not, it’s free. How can you say no?
  2. Okay. This one I’m actually excited about. Head out to The Bell House for their annual Smiths and Morrissey Valentine’s Day celebration, where NYC’s best tribute bands serenade you, surrounded by plush velvet curtains, craft beer taps, and titanic chandeliers. Here’s hoping they play I am Hated for Loving as we all sing along: I still don’t belong to anyone-I am mine.
  3. While the Guggenheim museum boasts free admission every Saturday, don’t forget to stop into their theater to catch a free showing of The Morning Time Disappeared as an afternoon respite. Influenced by Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and set in modern-day China, this film will make you so depressed, you’ll forget you were supposed to be depressed.
  4. And if all else fails, you can always spend the day at Spa Castle’s Aqua Bar (that’s right) in between lavender facials and steam rooms, before taking a quick break from all that relaxing by using one of their rooftop hot tubs.

Think back to your hometown, where (if it’s anything like mine) even as part of a couple, your only Valentine’s options were either dinner and a movie, or a movie then dinner. Oh, NYC. I think I’ve fallen for you. Be mine?

**Originally published on on February 4, 2015**

My New Crush

Birthdays: A Piece of Cake

The morning after my twenty-sixth birthday, I woke up with a massive hangover, and an even more massive awareness of my fleeting mortality. While I am aware of how melodramatic it is to wake up and throw my head back in despair about making the transition to my late twenties, I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly overnight changes I felt as thirty continues to loom nearer and nearer.

For the first time, I had spent my birthday at work, because that’s what grown-ups do. I didn’t request off or make a big fuss, because as has already been explained by thosefar wiser than I, at a certain age your birthday stops being noteworthy. (I don’t want to brag or anything, but one of my skype contacts at work did send me an e-card. No big deal.) And after work, since my birthday fell on a weekday, I just wanted a nice, relaxing dinner, maybe some wine, and an early bedtime to catch up on my beauty sleep. Because adulthood.

This both did and did not happen. The evening started with Italian food, book-ended by rose and Chianti, but ended many hours later with a dance party in my kitchen. That night, I found myself trying to straddle the recklessness of previous years, while tempering it with the heightened sense of my own fragility as a person subject to the randomness of the universe. On one hand, I’m a person who can substitute Redbull for sleep, considers wine lips a passable substitution for lipstick, and wakes up most morning feeling invincible. But on the other, I find myself talking to and with others about ailments more and more, and get excited about trips to The Container Store in search of the perfect shower caddy.

The next day was all about damage control. There’s nothing like spending eight hours in a florescent-lit office to make you reevaluate living like Bacchus. As I got home that night and began complaining to my sister about my various aches and pains, I was suddenly aware of how alive I felt in that moment. While the night before had been about making memories and living it up to feel alive, the next day and its painful hangover made me feel alive in an wholly different way. In every way possible, my body was screaming at me: Feel this? You’re alive (but maybe not for long).

Ever since I read about the accident, I can’t help thinking about that man who fell through the cellar grate mere blocks from my apartment. Forgive me if I sound glib, but along with sewer alligators and evil empires built under the subway lines where I am taken captive, the idea of falling through those cellar doors is one of my daily anxieties. Every time I feel that bit of extra give, I have fantasies where I plummet down and shoot miles below the earth, until I’m trapped in some Labyrinth-stylechute toward certain death.

As a twenty-something trying to figure things out, I’m haunted by those words of inflated confidence Sarah says, working her way through the maze, right before being blindsided and falling to her doom down the labyrinth’s trapdoor, “I figured it out….This is a piece of cake!”

**Originally published on TwentysomethingNYC on January 25, 2015**

Birthdays: A Piece of Cake