It’s tough to work out and avoid feeling like your face will melt off, thanks to the stifling heat wave that’s currently hitting the East Coast.

For folks without a gym membership (and access to sweet, sweet A/C) there’s a solution: All New York Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, Washington Sports Club, and Philadelphia Sports Club gyms will be opening their doors for free whenever the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Simply say the words “heat wave promotion” at any location’s front desk and you’re in.

The deal, lasting from July 18 until August 31, is kind of ambitious. It’s also kind of amazing. Town Sports International (TSI), which owns these sports clubs, is trying to help people get fit without risk of heat stroke or collapse. Intentionally hot workouts can be a good way to push your limits, but working out in the heat can also be dangerous if done without proper prep.

The heat wave promotion is meant to keep folks safe while also introducing them to the facilities and benefits of joining one of TSI’s gyms. In that sense, it’s a win-win deal: The public gets to cool off and get in shape for free, while TSI gets some great PR and access to potential customers.

Despite the financial benefit, TSI seems to legitimately care about the safety of its local communties. The fitness company has done this kind of thing before. A similar heat wave promotiontook place in 2011, and, following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, TSI’s New York branch opened its doors to downtown residents stranded without clean water, showers, or a place to charge their phones.

The 2013 Heat Wave promotion appeals to fitness enthusiasts. A representative for the clubs said she understood some people may just want to hang out and enjoy the free A/C, but those situations will be handled by each individual gym.

What about the fine print? The only catch is that the promotion is good for all hours except Monday to Thursday from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, which are peak hours for the clubs’ regular members. TSI and its subsidiaries control 159 fitness clubs, including three in Switzerland, so I suppose that’s also gute nachrichten.

If individual gyms start kicking out non-members during heat spikes, the whole idea could go up in flames with a surge of bad PR. That said, if done properly — with the same spirit of openness and community as TSI’s Hurricane Sandy outreach — the heat wave promotion could be a big, cold win for everyone involved.

Is there such a thing as a “free workout”? Let us know if you’d go to a local gym to escape the heat in the comments below, or find the author on Twitter at @zsniderman.

Photo: dolanh