Want to get in shape for warmer weather? Working out can be expensive if you join a gym, but there are plenty of cheap or free fitness opportunities around Columbus throughout the winter!
Don’t slack off just because it’s not January 1st! It’s never too early or late to start!
Check out these 10 free or cheap options that will help you stay fit through the winter.
Brave the cold with Outdoor Fitness
November Project Scioto Mile
Wednesdays at 5:14 am and/or 6:14am, at stairs behind COSI in Downtown Columbus for a combo of cardio and strength training.
Free; ALL levels welcome. The group is #weatherproof, so they intend to be out there all year long! Come to the early session or late session, or tackle both – and your goals! These people show up – and you should too! Follow along here.
F3 Columbus Men’s Fitness Group
FREE peer-led men’s workout group at 10 locations (and growing) in Central Ohio. Workouts are outdoors at parks and parking lots. There are 24 workout options located at 10 different parks, so there are options for everyone!
This workout group started over 5 years ago, and has hundreds of guys participating each week.
All workouts are FREE, open to all men at any fitness level, and held outdoors, rain or shine, heat or cold. They encourage making connections and accountability. Workouts are held early mornings, Monday-Saturdays.
Read more about the group, and find workouts on the website – and JUST SHOW UP!
FIA Females in Action Fitness Group
FIA (Females in Action) is a women’s workout group that meets regularly. All women are welcome to attend any session. Find on IG @fiacolumbus or the website.
Mission: FiA stands for Females in Action, which is a community of women dedicated to making each other stronger in all areas of our lives through activities that include bodies, minds, and hearts.
A FiA workout is a promise, always free, open to ALL women, held outdoors, and ends with a circle of trust.
- Monday 6am at Northam Park in Upper Arlington; 6:30 am: Partner’s Park (Ruck)
- Wednesday 6:30am – 7:15am at Impact Stadium Marysville; 7pm: Tuttle Park (near OSU)
- Saturday 7am: Wyman Woods Park in Grandview and Impact Stadium Marysville
Community WOD at Crossfit Clintonville
Try out Crossfit for free at Community WOD (short for Workout Of the Day) on Saturdays at 10 am. You’ll learn about the Crossfit workout model and the easy to learn (and adapt) movements. No registration needed; guests can take 3 free classes. Check schedule here.
Family Nights at Worthington Community Center
Enjoy free gym activities on select Friday nights at Worthington Community Center. Event is for families, and adults aren’t permitted to attend alone.
Programming typically restarts in mid-January. Check website for updates.
Yoga at Columbus Museum of Art
Thursday Night Yoga with Replenish from 6-7 pm once a month. Registration is $10. I know…it’s not free, but inexpensive and a unique experience! Check calendar for dates.
Walk with a Doc at Highbanks
Held every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Highbanks, this walking program for everyone interested in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Sabgir of Mount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists will lead the walk featuring blood pressure checks, pedometers, healthy snacks, recipes and information to make better lifestyle changes, and opportunities to talk with the docs.
There are lots of other Walks with a Doc around Columbus too! (please verify whether walks are happening via the links below before you show up in case the schedules have changed).
German Village Walking Club
Every Saturday at 8 am from the Schiller Park Statue. There are 3 mile or 5 mile route options through downtown, or Schiller Loops – all walking paces welcome!
See 5 mile rotating routes through downtown – great way to see the city!
Columbus Metro Parks Winter Hike Series
Hike on your own (or with your people) and earn a prize by getting your passport stamped at different parks! See details and schedules.
Other Hiking around Columbus
Here are some other great winter hikes around Central Ohio:
Alley Park: This park in Lancaster has more than 350 acres to get lost in and the covered bridges look gorgeous covered in the winter snow.
Clear Creek Metro Park: Clear Creek in Rockbridge is Ohio’s largest nature preserve, and with nine trails you’re bound to come across many of the 2,200 plant and animal species that call this preserve home.
Insider Tip: Check out the Creekside Meadow trail for the best views.
Chestnut Ridge: Chestnut Ridge is the first ridge in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Carroll, Ohio, and is great for bird watching. Bundle up and enjoy the scenic walk around the lake.
Indian Run Falls: Only about 20 minutes from Columbus, find beautiful icicles and frozen waterfalls on this easy, family-friendly hike.
Hayden Run Falls: Hit a frozen waterfall double feature and check out Hayden Run Falls in Dublin. Fun fact – I got engaged at Hayden Run Falls one January in front of the frozen waterfall.
Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike
Start it off right and brave the cold this winter by taking part in Hocking Hills Annual Winter Hike on Saturday, January 20, 2024.
Hike from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave (6 miles), enjoy a lunch, and a ride back to your car. Or hike in and out without a ride for 12 miles! Start early if you’re doing the whole hike! Details here.
Got snow? Hit these Sledding hills in Columbus
Sledding counts as exercise! Buy an extra sled early in the season – it gets hard to find them later on! Check out the options here.
Indoor and Outdoor Ice Skating in Columbus
Lots of options for ice skating in Columbus! Some of these have a cost, but other options are FREE!
Run or Walk Races: Races aren’t cheap, but they are a great motivation to commit to an exercise program. Many donate to a specific cause, so find one that means sometime to you (or at least has great swag). Find races all through the year here!
Snow Trails Skiing and Snowboarding Central Ohio: Its just a short drive from Columbus and you’ll burn calories on those hills, whether you ski, board, or tube. Read more about Snow Trails here!
Sweat Indoors this Winter
These all have a cost, but they are worth it for a fun active outing!
Roller Skating in Columbus
You probably did a lot of roller skating while you were a kid – and for good reason…it’s tons of fun!
Skate America in Grove City: Great pricing and plenty of discounts through the year
Skate Zone 71 near Morse Rd: Tons of skate parties with character visits. Little kids skate is on Saturday mornings. There are also discounted days, young teen nights, and adult nights.
United Skates of America on Refugee Rd: Lots of family skate and discount days.
Indoor Swimming in Columbus
Worthington Community Center ($5-$8, free under 3) 345 E. Wilson Bridge Rd., Worthington, OH 43085, Ph: (614) 436-2743. Great option for little kids with zero entry, little kids slide, plus lazy river and vortex and larger slides. Check link for leisure pool hours.
Westerville Community Center ($5-$12) Westerville Community Center also has a climbing wall (fees required), and a great, free indoor playground for kids off of the lobby. 350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43082, Phone: (614) 901-6500. Pool features shallow area, lazy river, fountains, slides, and more. Check link for leisure pool hours.
Dublin Community Recreation Center ($7-$16 for daily admission) 5600 Post Road, Dublin. Lazy river, zero entry for area, waterslides, and more. Check link for leisure pool hours.
Active fun for kids and teens
Scroll down for the “active fun section“, including trampoline parks, open gym, and more (admission applies for most)
Most fitness studios will offer a free class for first time visitors, so if you have your eye on a studio or class, don’t be afraid to ask!
Health and fitness program designed for adults 65+ that’s included with many Medicare Advantage Plans. Membership includes access to every participating gym and fitness center in the network.
That’s a membership at more than 15,000 locations, plus fitness classes for all abilities led by SilverSneakers trained instructors at gyms and other locations. There’s a Silver Sneakers App too! Many of the classes are being held virtually so you can participate from home!
Can’t get out of the house?
There are tons and tons and tons of fitness videos on YouTube. Whether you want yoga, kickboxing, calisthenics, or something else, you’ll find it on YouTube. Stick with the ones with tons of followers, likes, and positive reviews, so you don’t waste your time.
Here are some of our favorites:
Her yoga is for all abilities, and is there is truly something for everyone. There are short and long options, yoga focusing on specific areas of the body, or that is for dealing with specific injuries or emotional needs. Pick any, or work your way through one of her 30 day programs.
POPSUGAR Fitness offers all types of workouts on YouTube, including Zumba, HIIT, Standing Barre, Core, and more.
This channel offers a HUGE library of fitness videos. You find all types of workouts, including no-equipment, weights, kettlebell, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, cardio, and so much more. You can also join fitness challenges and use workout calendars that will tell you exactly what videos to do each day.
There’s an app for that! There are plenty of free exercise apps on iTunes or GooglePlay. Popular exercise apps include 30 Day Fitness Challenge, 7 Minute Workout, and more.
Download the app, commit to opening it once a day, and do SOMETHING! Even a little bit of exercise will help!
Peloton App: You may not have a fancy Peloton bike or treadmill, but there is still a lot for you on the Peloton App. Normally $12.99, they are offering the first 2 months for free right now. Peloton offers a variety of live fitness classes that you can filter by type, length, time and fitness level. You must register with a credit card, and will be charged after 60 days if you don’t cancel. Mark it on the calendar or set an alert for the trial period is up. If you aren’t good at remembering to cancel after trial periods, you may want to skip this one.
Nike Training Club App: Offering everything from bodyweight-only to full-equipment workouts for everyone at all fitness levels. There is a free plan with 200+ workouts, or a premium plan for $14.99/mo.
FitOn: Fitness Workout Plans App: Take your FREE workout wherever you go with the FitOn app. There are live classes, on demand, challenges, and more. You can select time, intensity, target area and more. They’ll even set up a fitness plan based on your goals and stats – with optional reminders so you can’t just say that you forgot. Apple Google
Fitness Blender: SO MANY FREE workouts on Fitness Blender. You can narrow your search by choosing difficulty level, body focus, training type (HIIT, strength, pilates, cardio, etc), equipment available, length of time, and more! There are no excuses! You can ask for a 10 minute workout with no equipment, and you’ll have 126 choices! Let’s face it….you have 10 minutes these days.
GoNoodle: Do kids need a break to get the wiggles our in between at-home school work or boredom? Turn on GoNoodle! The website and app provide movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts to help get kids moving! You’ll find creative movement, Kids Bop videos, kids Zumba, Think about It lessons, and more. We use the app on Roku to stream the videos on our TV, and the kids LOVE dancing along.
Remember – no matter where you are on your fitness journey, every exercise can be modified to your ability. You just have to start somewhere.
Do you know of any other free fitness in Columbus? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email at news@columbusonthecheap.