The Best Free (or Super-Cheap) Winter Workouts in DC

By the end of 2016 you spent all your money on gifts for your loved ones (hopefully), your favorite local charities (thankfully), and yourself (most likely). And then you ate. So now you’re in desperate need of a workout and the motivation to get moving. Excuses are everywhere and being light in the wallet is the quickest way to kill all of those good intentions. But fear not, we’ve got you and your empty wallet covered with all the free (or close to free) workouts this city has to offer. So think of having one less excuse as our first gift of 2017 to you. Now go get sweaty!

Use your local ID to exercise for free 

Did you know that as a DC resident you have free access not only to the DC Department of Parks & Rec’s (DPR) Fitness Centers, but also to the aquatic facilities in the area? Thanks Mayor Bowser! The locker rooms are pretty basic and you’ll need to bring your own hairdryer, but hey, it’s open six days a week and you can’t beat free time on the elliptical (or bike, treadmill, free weights, and universal weight machines). Cue up that Hamilton soundtrack and get moving. Need a group to motivate you? Check out the free yoga classes at... wait for it... the DC Public Library!

Work out outdoors without working your wallet

#JustShowUp Seriously, how many cups of coffee does it take to sound this motivating? The November Project started out of Boston in 2011 as a way to encourage folks to work out during the long and endless winter months. It’s since grown to 29 locations worldwide so you can’t use work travel as an excuse either. Yes, it’s outside. Yes, rain or shine. But it’s free and it feels like a camp for grown ups (think group hugs, cheers, stair-climbing, running, and whatever strength training your leader has dreamed up for that day). Drop the excuses and give this creative take on group workouts a chance. (DC locations: Mondays at Meridian Hill Park at 6:30am, NE corner. Last Monday of the month at Capitol Hill at 6:30am, NW corner. Wednesdays, 5:25 and 6:20am at the Lincoln Memorial steps. Please abstain from bringing a bag. New locations every Friday at 6:30 am listed online.)

Yoga that costs only karma (or $5)

There are so many dedicated yogis in this town who don’t want to hear ‘I can’t afford yoga’ as an excuse for why you and your practice are stalling. On Mondays, hit up Bicycle Space. This weekly 7:30pm ‘give what you can’ yoga class helps you feel good while stretching, bending, and breathing into your downward dog knowing that your donation is going towards whatever the local advocacy group of the week might be (BYO Mat and arrive early to snag a spot; Metro: Downtown and Adams Morgan)

During the week there are two options for free (or cheap) classes at the various Down Dog Yoga locations. First, announce yourself as a new student (sorry tourists, local ID required) and experience seven free days of unlimited yoga. Then, while you’re deciding which classes are your favorite, do your wallet a favor and sneak out of work a little early for the 4:30pm classes on Friday ($5) that are used to help train DDY’s new teachers.

Circle Yoga offers weekly Community Yoga (for a $5 suggested donation) and pushes you to work on your mental health via their monthly Friday ‘Yoga off the Mat’ class with offerings such as philosophy and meditation. Ohmmm. And if you need more time to center yourself on the idea of mindfulness, this studio offers free donation-based classes around the art of meditation three times a week (Mon/Wed/Fri).

When the weekend hits (and it will hit hard) at Capitol Hill Yoga there’s a free Community Yoga class at this locally owned and operated studio at 6pm each week that’s offered on a first-come, first-served basis for 25 people. Newbies can also check out CorePower Yoga to try their first week free.

Yoga District is so committed to ensuring everyone can work on their yoga practice that they offer not only a yoga work/study option (volunteer six hours a week for free yoga), but they also have sliding scale fee options for those that need it (Just fill out their: Yoga Accessibility Application.)

Sweat it up in luxury (if only just for once)

Sorry, Equinox -- you don’t fit my budget. VIDA, you might not either, but I’ll give you a try. Here’s a chance to have a free first visit plus try out one class of your choice. They have everything from barre and pilates to Zumba and cycling.

Run around town without running up a bill

DC is a big running town with plenty of unique alternatives to running on your own. At Roosevelt Island Park Run, local volunteers host and time a 5K around the island first thing Saturday mornings at 9am to let you enjoy the place in peace before all the dogs, babies, and ‘urban hikers’ (guilty as charged) show up. Stick around for a cup of coffee to catch your breath and meet some of your fellow runners. (Registration is requested.)

If your current running route is boring and you find running alone in the cold to be a brutal experience, solve both of these problems by joining the Federal City Runners for weekly fun runs in your neighborhood. The Columbia Heights one partners their Saturday morning run with brunch at The Heights. You might net zero calories burned for the morning (thanks DIY Bloody Mary menu), but will meet some fun fellow runners if nothing else.

And if it’s the second Tuesday of the month and you need to squeeze in a run, but really all you want is a burger and a beer, join the Shake Shack Community Run and satisfy all three. Best of all, the first drink is free!

Stay home and transform your living room

Seriously, it’s cold and you can’t bring yourself to go outside. There are a ton of awesome free YouTube workouts. Check out POPSUGAR’s Fitness YouTube Channel to start.They have no problem looking silly trying out a new genre or dance move while pushing you to sweat.

Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Layla loves exploring local book stores and anywhere that sells cheese or chocolate. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Layla.Bonnot .