Aria Bendix is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and a former editorial fellow at CityLab. Her work has appeared on Bustle and The Harvard Crimson.
From trampolines to pickleball, these workout classes will help you get fit and get weird, without paying a cent.
For those bored with a daily morning run, boutique fitness classes can offer a fun way to switch up a routine, or get hooked on a new one. Unfortunately, these classes can also skew on the pricey side, which may alienate some people looking to break a sweat. Services such as Soul Cycle and the Bar Method can cost upwards of $30 a class. In a recent article for Racked, one young Manhattanite even claimed she went broke from spending exorbitant amounts of money at yoga and cardio dance studios (around $700 a month, after factoring in the cost of transportation).
Sure, that example seems extreme, but even three classes a week could total $360 per month. Thankfully, there’s still a way to experiment with your fitness routine without going bankrupt.
Many cities offer free exercise classes that tout the same services at no cost. In New York, L.A., and D.C., it’s easy to find a free yoga or Zumba class in public areas like Bryant Park or the Capitol Riverfront. And many fitness centers and Parks and Recreation departments also offer some pretty outlandish—and in some cases, downright kooky—exercise classes that rival your $21 hip hop spin session. Here’s a look at a few of the quirkiest classes that America’s big cities have to offer:
Kangoo Jumps: On select Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30 a.m., L.A. residents can hop like endorphin-crazed marsupials. “Kangoo Jumps” are high-tech shoes that resemble roller blades with a spring, lifting the wearer about 7 inches off the ground. Participants jump, run, and complete interval training, all while wearing Kangoo Jumps. Although the shoes normally retail for around $250, they are provided for free along with the class.
Jumping Fitness (Trampolines): L.A. also offers a class where participants can jump on small, patented trampolines. They bounce around from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on select Fridays at Redondo Beach. “Beginners are burning around 600 [calories] per class,” Jakub Novotny, a Jumping Master Trainer, said in an email. “But as your body is learning our way of exercising, it gets much higher. I burn approximately 1,000 calories in a 55-minute session. As you’re getting used to it more and more, it’s a wild, calorie-burning addiction.”
SUP Yoga: Think of this as a Vinyasa-style yoga class—that happens to take place on a paddle board in the ocean. Although these classes normally retail for around $35, L.A.’s Paddle House has partnered with Free Fitness Weekend to give residents free SUP Yoga classes on select Fridays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Redondo Beach. While it’s not exactly the easiest of skills, it’s certainly a good way to perfect your balance.
Yoga on the Labyrinth: Every Tuesday, hundreds of San Franciscans (and yogis from around the world) file into the city’s Grace Cathedral for a free class known as “Yoga on the Labyrinth.” The class is designed to be a spiritual experience (though all denominations—and atheists—are welcome), but has the added flair of being set to live music. Donations are encouraged, but not required.
Slackline Yoga: This has all the trappings of a normal yoga class—save for the fact that it takes place on a single one-inch piece of tensioned, tightrope-style webbing known as a “slackline.” The class is held on the first Monday of every month at Sports Basement Bryant Street.
Hot Hula Fitness: Every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m., New Yorkers can gather in the Chelsea Recreation Center for a 60-minute hula workout like no other. Hot Hula Fitness fuses traditional Polynesian drum beats and dance moves with reggae and hip hop songs.
Caribbean Cardio: The Dream Center, a non-profit located in Chelsea and Harlem, offers Caribbean Cardio and Body Sculpting dance-based class on Saturdays from 10:30-11:30 a.m. You just need a mat and your dancing shoes.
North Face Mountain Training: The North Face Mountain Training Class is an “on-the-go” training program to prepare you for your next skiing, climbing, or running adventure. Participants will also receive instruction from real trainers from the North Face store. Rain or shine, you can attend the class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in Stanton Park.
Pickleball: Leave it to Miami to come up with perhaps the most random of all free sporting endeavors. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Scott Rakow Youth Center, the Miami Parks and Rec Department offers free games of pickleball—a cross between ping pong and tennis.