Committing to exercise is hard enough, so you might as well try not to waste a ton of money trying to prove to yourself that, damn it, this is going to be the year when it all changes! And believe it or not, exercising is a lot easier in a group setting. So in that spirit, before you make that New Year’s Resolution, here’s Billy Penn’s guide to free or cheap group fitness in Philadelphia.
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels, with post-run get-togethers
Where: Art Museum steps.
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. Saturdays
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels that has post-run brunches on Saturdays
Where: Front and South Streets, except for Wednesdays. Wednesdays are at 6th and Race.
When: 6:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels. They’ve also raced a SEPTA bus.
Where: Abyssinia restaurant at 45th and Locust
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels
Where: City Sports at about 16th and Walnut
When: 6 p.m. Thursdays
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels that’s known for its post-run cheers and drinking. They go to different bars every week.
Where: 2346 E. Susquehanna Avenue or 7th and Bainbridge
When: 7 p.m. Thursdays
Cost: Free to run — but bring money and your ID for beer.
What: Running group for all experience and fitness levels that’s known for offering beers during and after runs. They’ll also give you a cool nickname if you come often enough.
Where: Location varies. Check their website.
When: Saturday afternoons in fall and winter months and Tuesday and/or Thursday evenings in the spring and summer. Check their website for exact times.
Cost: Depends, you’ll need to bring money to pay for beer. Bring your ID, too.
Rocky Steps Running
What: A hardcore workout involving running up the steps that last about an hour
Where: Art Museum steps
When: 6:25 a.m. Wednesdays. The group also meets at 6:25 a.m. on Fridays in various locations.
What: Running, jumping and plyometrics.
Where: Art Museum steps
When: 6:45 p.m. Tuesdays. The club also meets at other locations and times on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
What: Yoga, beginning and advanced
Where: 2016 Walnut Street
When: Check the website but most Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.
What: Outdoor Yoga (Seasonal)
Where: Front and Oxford
When: Summer only, on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
What: Hot yoga
Where: 1204 Frankford Avenue
When: Check their schedule. Day of the week depends, but the cheapest class goes from 8:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It’s the Community Infrared Hot Flow.
What: Yoga with art
Where: Art Museum — the gallery changes each week, so check the website for that.
When: 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesdays
Cost: Free after purchasing a museum ticket (tickets are pay what you wish on Wednesdays)
The Bicycle Club of Philadelphia offers numerous rides throughout the week that change from month to month. You can read about those here. They encourage riders to pay for membership ($15 per year) to the club. Here are other free group bicycle rides:
What: Long bike rides of 40-70 miles, sometimes followed by trips to Shake Shack.
Where: 1923 Chestnut Street
When: 8:30 a.m. most Saturdays. Check their Facebook for cancellations.
What: Bike rides that vary from nice and easy to hill workouts depending on the week. Their Facebook details the weekly rides.
Where: 4323 Main Street
When: 9 a.m. Saturdays
What: 25-30 mile group bike rides.
Where: 1822 Spring Garden
When: 9 a.m. on some Saturdays. Check their Facebook.
What: The Bagel Ride, a 40-mile ride with a stop for coffee and bagels or donuts in the middle.
Where: 2211 South Street
When: 8:30 a.m. Saturdays in good weather. Call the shop at 215-735-7849 to make sure.
Other free or cheap fitness activities
Gyms: Planet Fitness is the best deal for any gym in Philadelphia, costing $10 per month for membership. There are Planet Fitness locations in Fishtown, West Philly and South Philly but alas, not in Center City.
Alumni of local universities should check to see if their school offers cheap memberships at their rec centers. Temple alums, for instance, can get access to the school’s fitness facilities for $220 a year. Penn alums can get access to its fitness facilities for $330 a year.
Basketball: Philadelphia is a basketball city, with many public outdoor and indoor courts. You won’t find a better resource than Courts of the World to find the court nearest you. In general, some of the best outdoor courts are Palumbo Park in South Philly, Hancock Playground in North Philly, Schuylkill River Park in Rittenhouse and the Fishtown Recreation Center in Fishtown.
Tennis: TennisPhilly sets up similarly-skilled players with matches throughout the spring, summer and fall. It also offers a tournament for the best players from each skill group. Membership is $35 per season but often lower depending on how many people sign up.
Volleyball: The Philadelphia Volleyball Meetup Group usually plays games twice a week. In the summer months, it’s outdoor and usually at Temple or Drexel. In the winter, they play at various indoor locations. Check their website for details. It charges $5 for membership.