Free (and almost free) fitness classes in Vancouver

Everyone wants to look and feel their best -- particularly in a city as outdoorsy and sports-focused as Vancouver. But in such a city, fitness trends fluctuate with the seasons, and can be as pricey as a month of rent. I have taken it upon myself to search out some of the best deals and offers around for fitness classes -- and am here to report back my findings.

None

RIDE Cycle Club

Spin classes are one of the most effective cardiovascular workouts, and studios are abundant all around Vancouver. RIDE Cycle Club stands out through effective branding, a top location and a unique party atmosphere in each class -- all of which ends up as a hefty $720 for three months. But there's good news: your first class is free, which you can use for a 30-, 45-or 60-minute class. The spin room is dark with party lights, candles and loud, pumping music. If it weren’t for the rows of spin bikes, you feel almost as though you’re hitting the clubs. Classes fill up quickly, so you are advised to book ahead online. There are several classes every day, and you get complimentary (clean) shoes, towels and small beauty and skincare products post-workout.

Lululemon #werunkits run club

For the runners amongst us, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to head out on a gloomy morning, or after a long day of classes. Having a group of like-minded individuals to encourage and motivate you can definitely make all the difference, and leads to a regular, enjoyable running habit. Lululemon stores all over the country have free events from yoga to guided runs, and the store on Fourth Ave is host to the twice-weekly run club, on Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. A mix of speed work, longer runs and always a scenic view and good company, the group had a range of speeds, which meant nobody got left behind. The club meet at the store on West Fourth just before each run, and runners share nutrition guides, running tips and funny stories. There are sometimes post-run brunches or beers, which is definitely a well-deserved reward.

None

Semperviva yoga

If you’ve got a friend with a membership to any one of their four local studios, you’re welcome to attend a free class with Semperviva. Specializing in vinyasa power, hatha, yin and the (initially unknown to me) kundalini yoga styles, newcomers to the studio are entitled to a free taster class with no commitment. The studio hands out free tea to patrons, and mats and other equipment are all provided, although everyone is welcome to bring their own too. Being a passionate power-yogi, I ventured to try the Kundalini style. Entering the class with no expectations or preconceptions, the class started with some ‘standard’ practices, until the class stood up and danced, sang and ran around the room to loud, exultant music. Initially self-conscious, by the end of the class I was just as into it as everyone else, and emerged feeling refreshed and completely positive about the rest of the day.

MEC race series

After your twice-weekly running sessions with the Lululemon run club, you’ll definitely want to sign up for a race, right? Right. Until you look up the registration fees, compare it to the price of a large pizza and slump back down into the couch. But wait -- good news. The Mountain Equipment Company (with a base at UBC) has a series of races between $0 and $30, ranging from the attainable 5k to the more challenging half marathon. Registration is available on the day of the event as well as online, and the races take place all over the Greater Vancouver area. These races give you a chance to run in new places, to see new scenery you might otherwise have missed out on and the insane sense of achievement with each new personal record (and if it’s your first race, you automatically gained a best time).

Barre fitness

Keeping up with the latest fitness trends is definitely something at the forefront of many individual’s minds. Barre fitness first sparked a trend after the Black Swan phenomenon, and now can be credited for the long, lean limbs of Charlize Theron, Katie Holmes and Kelly Ripa. Barre Fitness in Yaletown offers a two week unlimited trial for new members, and with around eight classes each day, there’s no excuse for not being able to fit in a workout. The staff at Barre Yaletown are testimony to the powers of this workout, and although it won’t quite kill you, it will definitely make you stronger. Post workout, my inner thighs were new levels of painful (but in a good way) and it was definitely one of the most fun ways to work literally every major muscle group.

The hardest part of any workout is getting to the gym or studio. Once you’re there, you’ve committed yourself to the class and the time, and you know it’s just up to you to make the most of it. Exercise should be an important part of everybody’s lives, and as the cliché goes, it really does make you feel better inside and out. Alternating means of working out is one of the most powerful ways to stay motivated and seeing the most change, so why not try out some (or all) of these deals? Scheduling your workouts, just as you’d schedule classes and work means that you’re sure to keep up to date. Attending groups and classes is not only beneficial to your fitness but you’ll meet all kinds of interesting people with the same interests as yourself.