The benefits of physical activity are well-established, but managing expenses can be a tightrope walk in itself. The solution: Fitness freebies. Join these groups and let your wallet breathe a little easier.
Upgrade your walk in the park to a full-on workout. Image courtesy of the City of Chicago.
Look closely, and the city’s incorporation seal has a Latin phrase meaning “City in a Garden.” There’s no better place to experience the vision of Chi-Town’s founding fathers than on the Great Lawn of Millennium Park. Enjoy a free workout every Tuesday and Thursday morning June through August. On Saturday, spend up to four hours feeling the burn with pilates at 7 AM and yoga, strength training, and Zumba on the hour thereafter. This green space where the Windy City meets Lake Michigan is the perfect place to feel energized.
In downtown Seattle, Friday isn’t just the end of the work week—it’s the start of free fitness. Kickstart your weekend with Crossfit in the morning and a Seattle Fitness class at noon in Occidental Square. Save some strength for Saturday to get your sweat on at SAM. The Seattle Art Museum hosts two free yoga classes and Zumba in Olympic Sculpture Park along the waterfront. Perhaps the presence of Eagle, a bright red abstract sculpture by Alexander Calder, will take your fitness to new heights.
There’s a running party in San Diego and everyone’s invited! Image courtesy of Milestone Running.
Known for nice temps and ocean breezes, San Diego is a runner’s paradise year-round. But stepping out doesn’t have to be solitary. Socialize your workout with the Hump Day Run Club Wednesday evenings, which attracts fleet feet from stroller-pushers to five-milers. Specialty retailer Milestone Running in North Park organizes the weekly activity and dishes out refreshments and prizes afterwards. Routes often tread through Balboa Park. Return for extra stretching on Sundays, with yoga for runners hosted at the store.
New York City
Looking to perfect your plank, tree, or burpee? Midtown office workers unwind in Bryant Park with pilates, yoga, and boot camp. Mats are included for the early birds. A range of other activities from tai chi to novice fencing lessons is reason to return.
Soak up downtown skyscraper views on Pier 2 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Workouts on the waterfront include Broadway dance, double Dutch, and sunrise yoga to keep muscles toned all summer long.
For free classes closer to your block, check out Shape Up NYC. Walk-ins are welcome at parks and recreation centers throughout the five boroughs.
Develop your muscles as Atlanta develops its property. Image courtesy of the Atlanta Beltline.
While more affordable than other large metros, Atlanta isn’t staying that way. Rent is spiking at rates faster than in San Francisco. One of the reasons: Development of a 22-mile recreational ring. The BeltLine is the ATL equivalent of beachfront property. It’s also a conduit for free fitness with aerobics, beginner flow yoga, beginner skateboarding, and even sunrise and sunset hiking. On Wednesdays, try boot camp with body-weight exercises and a holistic approach to wellness. On Thursdays, groove to the beat of Caribbean Workout, a full-body class set to tropical tunes.
Turn lunchtime—or anytime, really—into crunchtime, with free fitness classes in your locale.
Freebies are a great way to get customers in the door. Apparel brands like Athleta, Lululemon, Nike, The North Face, Reebok, and REI often sponsor or host classes at retail locations.
For a community-led group, try the November Project. Joining this “fitness tribe” is as simple as showing up. Inclusive of age and athletic ability, these scalable group workouts combine weekly consistency with new friends.
In smaller cities without big name stores or November Project chapters, look to parks—especially those privately managed—that fund free programming. For example, five days a week Guthrie Green in Tulsa hosts bootcamp, yoga, Zumba, and martial arts cardio. Get looking, and then get moving!