3 ways to find free group workout classes

Take advantage of the free workouts offered by your city's parks and recreation department and these nationwide stores.

Laurie Kelso
Laurie Kelso is a health and wellness writer for CNET living in the Bay Area. She's passionate about spicy food and petting soft dogs.
Laurie Kelso
3 min read
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There's just nothing like sweating a room full of strangers to Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake that pushes you to go even harder on that last rep. Group workout classes are an awesome way to stay motivated, but can often cost a pretty penny. Have you been dying to try that shiny new yoga studio down the street but don't want to pay triple digits a month to find your zen? 

No fear, with just a little bit of research you might be able to score free workout classes in your city. Here are some smart saver ways you can still get that sweat in, for free!

Read more: How to create the perfect workout playlist

Check out your local church, library or parks

Many community facilities or churches will offer workout classes for free in order to get more business, acquire donations, or to just be good samaritans. Libraries often offer yoga or pilates, while your city's parks and recreation departments might put on group hikes or outdoor bootcamps. Check out the websites of your city or county's library system and parks and recreation department to see what kinds of classes they offer.

For example, if you live in San Francisco, Grace Cathedral does free yoga (with a suggested donation) on Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m. There's nothing like doing the downward dog in between the pews. I'm serious, it's actually really fun -- I did it last week. 

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In New York City, the Shape Up NYC program offers free classes for yoga, kickboxing, dance and more. If you live in or near a major city, there's a good chance you can find free exercise classes. But even if you live in a smaller town, it's worth checking if your city's parks and recreation department has any fitness programs.

Fitness stores

If you live anywhere near a downtown shopping area, chances are there is a Lululemon, or some other fitness shop nearby. Lululemon holds weekly and free group runs around town. What a fun way to run (suffer) with other people around to motivate you! It's also a great way to meet people and explore the town if you may be new to the area. 

REI and Athleta also both offer fitness classes at their stores nationwide, ranging from backcountry camping workshops to pilates. Though it's worth noting that many of REI's classes do require a small fee.


Running in a group can be way more fun than on your own. Your city's local running store likely offers free group running sessions.

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Finally, if you have any local sporting goods stores, check if they offer any fitness classes too. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Sports Basement hosts a wide variety of classes from zumba to cycling, and A Runner's Mind hosts weekly runs. In New York City, the running store JackRabbit also hosts weekly runs. 


Ask your local gym or yoga studio if they have a work-exchange program. Some places will allow you to clean the locker rooms or man the front desk in exchange for a free class or discounted membership. You may have to wipe some sweaty mats, but just remember how much you're saving! 

If you have scoured everywhere and there just aren't any good free classes in your area, you can always resort to the good ol' YouTube. Hey, maybe you can even invite your friends over and start your own virtual workout class from the comfort of your living room! Blend up some healthy green smoothies and make a party out of it. Whatever gets you moving. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.