Exercise on the Cheap in Austin

Lisa Barden, Ringmaster of FRESH Friday. Photo credit: Laura Cisneros

Editor’s note: This list was compiled in 2014. Click the links below for current schedules.

I’m still grappling with the fact that it’s October and we haven’t even gotten our Halloween decorations down from the attic. I’m not even going to count the days until Thanksgiving. If there is one thing that says fall, at least to me, it’s pumpkin pie, turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce…the list goes on.

I digress, but the point is that I’m going to need to get lots of exercise options to keep up with the impending wave of holiday indulging. The great news is that the weather outside is slowly, but surely getting nicer, and there is a surprising number of low-cost exercise options in Austin.

One easy place to start is FRESH Friday. Once you register on the site, you can sign up for one free class per facility. The idea is to get Austinites to try out new gyms and classes and help our city become the fittest in America. You can choose from over 40 classes, from yoga to spinning to dance to boot camp. Although most classes are for adults, there are a few classes for kids, too. You can read more about FRESH Friday in last month’s Austin Woman.

Here are some of the other free and low-cost fitness options around town:

Austin Runners Club partners with Ready to Run in Northwest Hills for a group run on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. Various paces are welcome, and the distance is between four and five miles. It is a hilly course; bring your water.

3616 Far West Blvd.
Austin, TX 78731

On Saturdays, the Austin Runners meet at 7:00 a.m. for varying routes, ranging from 6.5 to 10 miles. Newcomers are welcome. Paces typically range from 8:00 to 9:30 minutes per mile and will adjust based on the group needs. Some runners meet at 6:00 a.m. to get in a few miles before the group meets at 7:00 p.m.

11900 Ranch Road 620 North
Austin, TX 78750

Austin Runners Meetup is a free running group for runners of all levels. The group organizes a series of runs each week to enjoy, as well as monthly gatherings.

Bike Austin is a non-profit focused on bicycling advocacy, education, outreach and events. The organization offers rides to recreational cyclists of all levels. Properly fitted, approved bicycle helmets must be worn at all times. Carry identification and a full water bottle. Monthly membership is $10 or more a month.

The Blanton Museum hosts Yoga in the Galleries during Third Thursdays. Third Thursdays are free, monthly themed events that featured extended hours and special programming. Yoga takes place at noon.

Capital of Texas Team Survivor (CTTS, or sometimes just Team Survivor) offers free educational exercise programs for women of all fitness levels in every stage of cancer treatment and recovery. Among the offerings are yoga, cycling, dance, swimming, rowing, pilates, conditioning and Zumba. Check the online calendar for the latest schedule and register to attend the classes.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse offers free yoga at 8 a.m., Monday to Friday.

1400 East 38th 1/2 Street
Austin,TX 78722

CrossFit Central offers free community workouts at both its locations which are designed for newcomers with no previous CrossFit experience. Online registration is required, and each class is capped at 30 participants.

Register for the Burnet Road location Free Community Workout here.

6205-A Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78757

Register for the downtown Free Community Workout or Women’s Only Workout here.

702 E. 3rd Street
Austin, TX 78701

CrossFit Rep offers free community workouts on Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. RSVP by emailing info@crossfitrep.com.

10603 Metric Blvd., #142
Austin, TX 78758

Dane’s Body Shop offers their Total Body Fusion workout for free the first and third Sundays of the month at 9:00 a.m. at Picnik. Please arrive at least 10 minutes early, as space is limited.

1700 South Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

Esquina Tango offers several dance and fitness classes either free or by donation only. The organization also offers a work-trade program so no one is discouraged from participating because of costs. Right now, Esquina Tango offers Tango Night (or “Milonga Loca”) at several locations. No experience or partner needed. Milonga Loca takes place:

Second Mondays of the month at Takoba. The Intro Tango class goes from 8:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and the Milonga begins at 9:00 p.m. and lasts until midnight.

1411 E. 7th Street
Austin, TX 78702

Third Mondays of the month at The Butterfly Bar. The Intro Tango class goes from 8:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and the Milonga begins at 9:00 p.m. and lasts until 11:45 p.m.

2307 Manor Road
Austin, TX 78722

Fourth Mondays of the month at Opa Coffee & Wine. The Intro Tango class goes from 8:15 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and the Milonga begins at 9:00 p.m. and runs until midnight.

2048 S. Lamar
Austin, TX 78704

FIT Systems hosts a free community workout the final Saturday of the month from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. for all levels. Arrive 10-15 minutes early to foam roll, stretch and warm up.

12800 Hill Country Blvd., Suite G-111
Austin, TX 78738

Free First Fridays is offered by Fitness 360 in the Triangle. In exchange for two food items for the Capital Area Food Bank (or $5 donation, per class), members and non-members can choose from classes taking place the first Friday of the month, and receive a gift bag. Register online for free.

4601 North Lamar Blvd., #508
Austin, TX 78751

Full Moon Yoga and Meditation Classes take place at a scenic overlook once a month and are open to anyone, regardless of age or experience (even well-behaved pets). Bring a blanket or something to sit on. Classes meet regardless of weather and include Hatha Yoga, a 20-minute meditation and time to watch the sunset and moonrise. Times are included on the website, and at the moment there are no future dates in 2014, but that may change.

Jack & Adam’s offers a host of opportunities to get out and get fit. Workouts are subject to change throughout the year, so please check the store’s website for updates or call for the latest information. The current free offerings are:

Run workouts of 5, 7 or 10 mile routes through a partnership with the Austin Runner’s Club and Al’s Ship of Fools. Meet on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:20 a.m. at the rock on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail (at the Mopac Pedestrian Bridge).

Core/calisthenics one-hour workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the store at 300 South Lamar.

Track workshops through a partnership with the Austin Runner’s Club and Al’s Ship of Fools at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesdays at O. Henry Middle School, which is located at 2610 West 10th Street. Tempo workouts take place at 5:55 p.m. on Thursdays.

Trainer workouts on the deck at the store at 300 South Lamar at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays through a partnership with Go Mitch Go Foundation. You can bring your own trainer or use one of the store’s.

Long runs from the 0 mile marker on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail at 7:00 a.m. on Saturdays with the Austin Runner’s Club and Al’s Ship of Fools.

Long ride from the store at 300 South Lamar, followed by tacos. Meet at 8:15 a.m. every Sunday and leave at 8:30 a.m. Ride is mostly flat with some rolling hills and regrouping points. The ride is 20-50 miles at a steady intermediate pace of 17-20 plus miles, and lasts about three hours.

Kundalini Yoga Mueller with Grace Wilson takes place at the Sustainable Food Center on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. Pay what you can afford. You can even pay online in advance.

2921 E. 17th Street
Austin, TX 78702

Luke’s Locker hosts several different regular training opportunities, including:

Tuesday Taco Runs every Tuesday, followed by Tacodeli tacos. Meet at the store at 6:00 a.m. for either a 4.5-mile run or a 7-mile fun run.

Quality Workouts take place weekly at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the store and include hills, drills and speedwork.

Wednesday Core Workouts begin at 6:00 a.m. and are led by Meg Hare.

Wednesday Evening Social Runs begin at 6:00 p.m. weekly and are 3.1 miles in length. Meet at the store; beverages are available after the run.

Sunday Yoga takes place inside the store at 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Bring your mat.

115 Sandra Muraida Way, Suite 102
Austin, TX 78703

Lululemon hosts a weekly strength and conditioning class with Fortitude Fitness which takes place outdoors. Meet at the store at 6:30 p.m. with water and running/training shoes.

1016 West 6th Street
Austin, TX 78703

The Domain location offers in-store yoga every Saturday in October from 10:45 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. with Hatha Flow from Northwest Rec Center. All levels welcome.

11600 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, TX 78758

Mellow Johnny’s offers free bike rides for various levels of experience. Check the schedule for meeting points and bike rental information (if you do not have your own).

No Excuses Running leads group workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays. Dress for the weather and bring water. Meet at 5:45 p.m. to warm up; the workout begins at 6:00 p.m. sharp. Workouts generally include drills, short and long workouts, cool down and group stretching. The group meets year-round, even on holidays, unless there is lightning.

Mondays, sessions take place on the Cedar Valley Middle School’s track:

8139 Racine Trail
Austin, TX 78717

Wednesdays, workouts happen at Brushy Creek Lake Park at the pavilion near the playground and restrooms:

2901 Brushy Creek Road
Cedar Park, TX 78613

No Excuses also organizes the Vern’s No Frills 5k on the third Saturday of the month on a certified course. The course is very fast and stroller-friendly. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Arrive at 7:00 – 7:30 a.m. to get registered, and the race begins at 8:00 a.m. Free to students K-12 and $1 for adults. Water and Gatorade provided.

The Oasis has live salsa music on Sunday evenings from 7:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. and free dance lessons.

6550 Comanche Trail
Austin, TX 78732

Russian House hosts free Tango lessons with Tom Kamrath every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Candlelight and sensual music provide a special intimate experience. Tom will teach you and you are encouraged to dance away. Ask for the House’s selection of wines.

307 East 5th Street
Austin, TX 78701Sahaja Yoga Meditation Center provides free weekly meditation sessions every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. and every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. as a service to the community.8711 Burnet Road, Suite A-12
Austin, TX 78757

Synergy Fitness Bootcamp offers free classes on Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. Due to limited availability, arrive at least 20 minutes early to reserve a spot. A canned food item or two for the Capital Area Food Bank is your admission. Classes take place at the following locations:

Boot Camp
103B N. Bell Blvd.
Cedar Park, TX 78613

4500 Tom Mueller Blvd.
Austin, TX 78723

4301 N. Rosedale Ave.
Austin, TX 78756

Boot Camp and Zumba
4005 West Parmer Lane, Suite D
Austin, TX 78727

Texas Running Company hosts a 60-minute yoga class for all levels on Wednesday, October 8th at 6:30 p.m. Bring your yoga mat.

9901 N. Capital of Texas Hwy.
Austin, TX 78759

Whole Foods at the Domain has a few different offerings each month, including:

FRAME Way Method Classes every Tuesday in October at 7:00 p.m. Bring your yoga mat and a water bottle.

Boot Camp with Camp Gladiator in the parking lot every Saturday at 7:00 a.m.

Pure Pilates Austin every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. in the Community Room upstairs for a pilates mat-inspired bootcamp. First come, first served. Bring a mat and water.

11920 Domain Dr.
Austin, TX 78758

Yoga in the Park is offered through a partnership with the Austin Parks Foundation and certified yoga instructors. These classes are BYO (bring your own) yoga mat.

Republic Square Park Hatha Yoga classes are led by Yoga Yoga instructors every Wednesday from noon until 1:00 p.m. in April, May, September and October.

422 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78701

Wooldridge Square Park CorePower Yoga classes are held every Thursday from noon until 1:00 p.m. in April, May, September and October. Family classes are led by The Little Yoga House the third Sunday of every month at 11:00 a.m.

900 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78701

WeViva is a local non-profit organization which provides accessible and affordable fitness and nutrition programs to people in low-income communities. WeViva targets adults in the communities and provides classes on-site and free of charge. Zumba, Yoga, Strength Training and Nutrition classes are offered every weekday at 18 different locations in the Austin area by bilingual, certified fitness instructors and nutritionists. WeViva also provides childcare at some locations.

There are many Meetup groups around exercise, as well as pick-up soccer, beach volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee happening at places such as Zilker Park. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that us Austinites want to keep our options open when it comes to exercise.

What is your favorite way to get fit on the cheap in Austin?

About the Author

Nicole Basham
A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 9-year-old son's eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, taking in some live music and being silly.