Increasing your exercise and decreasing your waistline can mean getting skinny in another place: your wallet. The average gym membership can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 a month, plus initiation fees and add-ons for premium times and classes, and even hitting a single class will cost you around $20.
But don’t despair. There are many affordable ways to get your fitness fix. Here are some top picks for the best free workouts in Atlanta.
The athletic clothing industry has recently developed a marketing technique that is really beneficial for those looking to actually use those irresistible $100 yoga pants: free fitness classes. There are several Atlanta-area stores that offer awesome FREE workouts:
- Athleta hosts fitness events and classes, including in-store Zumba and yoga classes. The Lenox Square store is particularly active, with free classes ranging from yoga to barre to bootcamp on the weekends and select weeknights. The midtown Athleta in Atlantic Station also hosts classes like Zumba, HIIT and meditation on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Lululemon, which has several Atlanta locations, often has community events like free yoga classes or running clubs. Check their online calendars for more details and to sign up in advance.
- Fleet Feet Sports, a sporting goods store with three Atlanta locations in Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, and Johns Creek, as well as home grown brand Big Peach Running Co. hold group runs at all their locations throughout the week.
Donation-Based Yoga Classes
Yoga is a powerhouse workout of strength, flexibility and mental focus, but unfortunately classes can add up quickly. However, part of the spirit of yoga is giving back to the community, so many studios offer donation-based or “community” classes once or twice a week. Take advantage of the free classes, which are often taught by the same instructors as the classes you would have to pay for, at these popular Atlanta studios.
- Sacred Thread Yoga- With locations in both the Old Fourth Ward and East Atlanta, Sacred Thread has a donation-based devotional flow class aimed at all levels of yogis. Funds go towards Operation P.E.A.C.E., an after-school and summer program for at-risk youth.
- Onlyoga- One of the more challenging yoga studios in the area, this midtown studio offers a Vinyasa (flow) Open Community class about once a week (usually Sundays at 4 p.m.). Check the schedule for weekly times.
- AvalOM: Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. from March to October, Avalon hosts free fitness classes, typically barre or yoga, with instructors from Exhale, Flywheel Sports, Lululemon and more.
- BONUS: King of Pops Yoga in the Park: Local popsicle favorite King of Pops offers a free outdoor yoga class along the Beltline in the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park on Sundays at 7 p.m. in the spring and summer, weather permitting. Follow your practice with an equally-blissful frozen treat, but be warned—this popular summer activity never fails to draw a huge crowd.
If you love running but also like the sense of camaraderie (and accountability!) that comes from being part of a group, consider joining one of the many free running clubs in Atlanta. And as an additional money-saving perk, joining a running club can also lead to discounts on races, which can be a large expense in themselves.
Find a comprehensive list of local run clubs here. Another great resource is Meetup.com, where there are over a dozen Atlanta-based running clubs. A great club to start with for the beginner racer is the West Midtown Run Club. They meet every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on the Westside to lace up their sneakers for a 3-5 mile run, followed up with a drink at a local bar. Cheers to that.
Perhaps the most unique free fitness activity in Atlanta, the iconic BeltLine holds free fitness classes throughout the week and at a variety of locations along the trail. Some of our favorite FREE fitness options:
- Aerobics- this hour-long cardio workout can be modified for all ages and experience levels, from those who want a more heart-pumping workout to low-impact exercisers. Usually held from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday evenings at the Historic Fourth Ward Park, this class has unlimited space.
- Bike tour- this three-hour guided ride takes bikers along the Beltline with several stops to point out interesting features, natural phenomena, and public artwork. Note: The bike tour requires registration beforehand.
- Arboretum walking tour- although the Beltline actually hosts several different walking tours on multiple sections, the Arboretum Tour is a really unique experience. This relaxing 90-minute tour is led by a Trees Atlanta tree docent through the Beltline Arboretum natural habitat. Tour groups meet Fridays and Saturdays behind Parish Restaurant in Inman Park on the Eastside Trail, departing at either 10 a.m. in the winter or 9 a.m. in the summer months. Reservations are required.
- Trail yoga- an hour-long combination of hiking, jogging, and outdoor yoga, this is the perfect full-body workout for the warmer months. Led by outdoor instructors from the REI Outdoor School, trail yoga classes meet different weekday evening nights (check the Beltline schedule) usually from Tanyard Creek Park on the Northside Trail.
- FitWit-This local gym offers bootcamp style classes on Saturday mornings at both Old Fourth Ward Park and D.H. Stanton Park.
You can find the full schedule of these classes and many more fitness options on the Beltline online.
Looking for accountability, fun and a boot camp style workout with the drill sergeant style instructor? Try this grassroots fitness group, which meets every Wednesday and Friday at 6:27 a.m. for running stairs, push-ups and planks, partner work and a whole lot of fun. Check the Facebook page for the latest schedule and meet-up spot, which varies weekly.