Don’t let the cost of living in Vancouver get in the way of getting fit. There are lots of great options to get a solid workout in and around the city.
No, I don’t mean, hit up YouTube for free workouts (although that is always an option). Here are some ideas to get your sweat on for free.
You can try to set a 5K PB (personal best) every weekend, thanks to Richmond Olympic Park Run. It is the local chapter of a global movement that holds timed weekly volunteer-led 5K races. Meet other Parkrunners every Saturday at 9 AM along the dyke near Cambie Street and River Road. Whether you are walking or running, nobody is left behind and everyone is celebrated. You can volunteer or run or do both. You just need to register first. After the run, enjoy some post-race coffee with the group at the nearby Tim Hortons.
The early bird gets an awesome workout with November Project. NP is a free fitness movement started in Boston, which spread to 48 cities worldwide. They will pump you up with their bounces, catchy chants, hugs, burpees, and so many high fives.
Co-leaders Richard Hortness (2-time Canadian Olympic swimmer) and Melissa Garner (ultra fierce NP devotee) will lead you through a heart-pounding bootcamp-style workout that’s pretty much a wildcard every week. They love to have fun but take fitness seriously, calling themselves “weatherproof.” Rain or shine, the sweat will be dripping. So bring your positive attitude and #justshowup every Wednesday at 6:29 AM at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park. Everybody is so nice, you will always find someone to hoistie with.
I am a strong proponent for track workouts if you want to be a faster runner. Join the Fraser Street Run Club on Track Tuesdays at 6:30 PM for a free structured speed workout. All levels and abilities are welcome.
Lace up and knock off some 400 metre repeats, pyramid workouts, or whatever else they have planned to help light a fire under your feet. You’ll find them at the Eric Hamber running track from April to September and the Memorial South track from October to March.
Preview various fitness studios
If you’re not a member at any studio, now’s a good time to try them out as some establishments give free classes to start off. Here are some well-known places that offer free introductory passes:
- Orange Theory – Your first workout is free (local residents only, certain restrictions apply)
- Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness – Free 3-day pass for new registrations
- Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club – Free 7-day pass for new registrations
- Anytime Fitness – Free 7-day pass for new registrations
- GoodLife Fitness – Free 3-visit pass for new registrations
- Cyklus – Free Intro Spin Class with FTP assessment (see schedule)
- Ride Cycle Club – Free First Ride at their Kitsilano and North Vancouver locations
Be one with nature
We have a vast network of trails all over the city and beyond. From the North Shore to the Fraser Valley, people can find a beautiful spot to go to for a hike or trail run. Some of my favourite spots include Stanley Park, Capilano River Regional Park, the West Dyke Recreational Trail in Richmond, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Buntzen Lake, Golden Ears Provincial Park, and Mud Bay Park.
When it’s open, the Grouse Grind is always a good time and you can head back down via the BCMC trail to keep the cost free (otherwise it’s a $15 Skyride down). Descending the BCMC trail is steep and potentially dangerous. Attempt this only if you are confident you can make it down. It’s never a dull outing when you’re immersed in the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest. Just make sure you leave a trip plan with someone and bring the 10 essentials if you are going out for a longer adventure. Trust me, you don’t want to make the news.
Outdoor yoga allows you to become one with your surroundings. As the weather gets nicer, a non-profit organization called Mat Collective will start holding free yoga sessions at various Vancouver locations. These classes will be held rain or shine from June 1st until August 30th. No mat? No problem! Mat Collective rents out mats which only requires a damage deposit. Once the mat is returned on time, you’ll get it back. Another neat thing they do is recycle old mats. Feel free to drop yours off at their HQ on E. 32nd Street.
The Dude Chilling Park Yoga Collective is once again planning to offer free daily outdoor yoga classes during the summer. This group of volunteer certified instructors is eliminating the cost factor because they believe that everyone has a right to experience a safe yoga practice. The classes are open to everyone, regardless of skill level, and occur weeknights at 6 PM and weekends at 10 AM. What better way to end a stressful work day than by practicing Hatha in nature and being one with your body and mind? Keep an eye out for finalized updates on their classes which they hope to run from June until August. Donations are graciously accepted.
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Lululemon events are, without a doubt, highly anticipated and that includes their summer yoga series. This year they will hit up two locations in July and August to lead weekly yoga practice for free. Join them for Nooner Yoga at Jack Poole Plaza on Wednesdays at noon and Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM at the Burrard Dry Docks in the North Shore. The very popular and picturesque Sunset Yoga at Kitsilano will happen on August 9th as part of Kits Fest. Their last event is the Sunset Festival Yoga at Stanley Park, which is part of the Seawheeze Half Marathon.
Normally, you have to buy a ticket, but if you volunteer for Seawheeze, you get a ticket to the Sunset Festival for free (which includes yoga and a concert). Nothing wrong with giving back to the community and helping fellow runners out in exchange for a good time.
Hope you found your next great workout. Remember it’s as easy as slipping on your workout gear, getting out the door and being active. Enjoy the (free) endorphins.