Health & Wellness

Breath of Fresh Air

Take your workout outside this summer.

Walk past the Washington Monument on a Saturday morning and you’ll see a group practicing yoga on the grass of East Mt. Vernon Place. The weekly class is one in a selection of free group fitness activities, like swing dance and African line dancing, sponsored by the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy to encourage fitness and show off the neighborhood.

While group fitness classes at gyms can be expensive and intimidating, free group activities tend to appeal to a wide range of fitness levels.

“The instructors are very attuned to tailoring the class to meet the participants’ needs,” says Mount Vernon Place Conservancy’s administrator Cathy Rosenbaum. “The yoga instructor also accommodates those with physical limitations and provides alternate poses to meet their needs.”

Other neighborhoods are catching onto the free summer activity trend. With the annual Waterfront Wellness Series, Inner Harbor’s Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore provides free group classes taught by well-known Baltimore studios (think Charm City Yoga, MAC, and Canton Club) four days a week.

“Waterfront Wellness began in 2012 as an initiative to make fitness accessible to everyone, especially those who may not be able to afford an expensive gym membership,” says Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership.

Want to burn calories while enjoying the fresh air even during the winter months? November Project (NP)—a movement that started in Boston and now operates in various cities across the US—meets year-round for early-morning workouts in Federal Hill and Patterson Park.

“I am not a gym person. I enjoy working out outdoors,” says Sam Gutner, a nurse and member of NP. “We want people to take the headphones out, put the phones down, and come enjoy their city together,” says Nick Rodricks, an NP group leader. “We believe that if people want to step up, make a change, and try something fun, they should never be impeded by the cost or accessibility.”