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These Gyms Let You Work Out for Free In August

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It's tough to get motivated for a run during the dregs of winter, but summer's sweltering temperatures aren't exactly motivating, either. And now that we've reached the dog days of August, some gyms have come up with a wonderful promotion to keep people safe—and give you a free gym membership.

Town Sports International, the company behind New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs, and Philadelphia Sports Clubs, will allow anyone to work out in their gyms when the temperature goes above 90 degrees in the month of August. That's right—their doors are open to non-members until August 31. All you have to do is mention the "heat-wave promotion" at the front desk. (Learn more about How to Save Money on Your Gym Membership.)

"The great thing about summer is you can take your workouts outside. But when it gets to 90 degrees or above, that becomes dangerous," says Anne Bonney, the senior director of group exercise for Town Sports International. "We want people to have the opportunity to work out, even if they can't afford or don't have a membership."

As you know, sweating is the body's way to bring its core temperature down to a safe level. "But when the external temperature is higher than your internal temperature, then sweat isn't cooling your body down anymore," Bonney explains. "Your core temperature is actually rising, and sweating is then making you dehydrated." It all adds up to major strain on your body, and can lead to illnesses like heat exhaustion, heat rash, or heat stroke, which can be deadly. (And that's not all. Check out these 11 Heat-Related Workout Inflictions to Watch Out For.)

Dedicated runners and fitness fanatics may be even more at risk, Bonney says. The reason? You're used to going hard, so you might not recognize the signs of heat illness, as they mirror the effects of a tough workout: pounding heart, excessive sweat, feeling thirsty, and feeling tired. "If you do have to stay outside to work out, keep the intensity low," she says. "This is not the time for a bootcamp class in the park." She recommends swimming (which can help lower your body temperature, as long as you're not in a hot tub) or just walking (preferably in the shade).

Of course, your heat tolerance is very subjective. Your level of fitness, hydration, workout, and whether you happened to have a few cocktails days ago—all of these things play into your risk. So it's better to just be safe and stay inside for your workout, whether at your gym or at a Sports Club.

If you're attached to your daily run through the park, remember: "A heat wave is just a couple of days," Bonney says. "You can still go hard, just go inside." If there isn't a Sports Club franchise near you—they're concentrated on the east coast—consider asking your local gym to run a similar promotion. It's a completely free way to recruit new members—and contribute to the community to boot—so they might just go for it!

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