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 week. Don’t slack off just because its the spring is almost here and you think you’re out of time! It’s never too late to start! Check out these 10 free or cheap options that will help you stay fit through the winter.
As much as it’s starting to feel like Spring, this is the Midwest….we know winter is not over. But Spring is coming….!
Brave the cold with Outdoor Fitness
November Project Scioto Mile: Virtual fitness challenges and groups are currently being held until they can resume regular in-person trainings.
Once in-person resumes: 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!
Hoof Hearted Running Club: Join Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen every Wednesday at 6pm for the Weekly 5k Vision Quest. It’s free to join the run! Afterwards, enjoy half off drafts for the rest of the night! Earn those drinks! #getlitgetfit
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!
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 16, 2021. In 2021, ODNR cannot sponsor this hike or provide rides back from the cave. Visitors are encouraged to do the hike on their own, but must plan to walk back on their own. This makes the hike 12 miles.
Got snow? Hit these Sledding hills in Columbus: it counts at exercise! Buy an extra sled early in the season – it gets hard to find them later on!
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! Note: most races are continuing as virtual until further notice, but submitting your time is STILL great motivation for a great cause!
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.
Sweat Indoors this Winter
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.
Active fun for kids and teens: Scroll down for the “active fun section”, including trampoline parks, open gym, and more (admission applies for most)
Fitness Studios: 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!
SilverSneakers®: 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:
Yoga with Adrienne: 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: POPSUGAR Fitness offers all types of workouts on YouTube, including Zumba, HIIT, Standing Barre, Core, and more.
Heather Robertson Fitness: 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.
Cosmic Kids Yoga: Fun themed yoga workouts for kids, including Frozen, Trolls, Star Wars, Animals, and kid-friendly resources for dealing with life situations and more! The workouts are around 30 minutes, and may hold school aged kids attention a little better. My 6 year old loves them, but my 4 year old only joins in occasionally.
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.
2020/2021 – These indoor options are currently on hold until further notice and until safety precautions have been lifted. We are leaving these options listed in the hopes that these will be available in the near future.
Walk with a Doc at Highbanks: Held every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. 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. Walks will be indoor at the Polaris Mall in the cooler months. 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).
Fearless Nutrition: Free workouts open to all, held at the Hilliard United Methodist Church Warehouse in their gym year round. These fun classes can be modified to fit all levels, but expect a good workout! You need a yoga mat for all classes except Cardio Drumming. Please bring a large exercise ball and a large utility bucket with handles for cardio drumming. You can purchase a yoga mat and exercise ball inexpensively at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and other big box stores. Three to four classes of these per week would get you in GREAT shape, and even one or two will benefit your health. Follow the Facebook page for cancellations.
- Monday: REFIT at 6 pm (no equipment needed)
- Tuesday: Pound Fit at 6 pm (bring a yoga mat)
- Thursday: Cardio Drumming at 6 pm (bring a large exercise ball to sit on, and a large utility bucket with a handle)
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.
lululemon at Easton and Polaris: Join them every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. for an hour long sweat-fest! Check out the calendar for details.
Free Fitness Classes at Athleta Easton: Athleta offers free fitness classes and events throughout the month; check calendar for details.
Family Nights at Worthington Community Center: Enjoy free gym activities on select Friday nights at Worthington Community Center. Swimming is available on certain nights for $3. (Event is for families, and adults aren’t permitted to attend alone).
Free Yoga at Columbus Museum of Art: Pay just $5 for Thursday Night Admission at CMA from 5 – 9 pm to explore the galleries, and enjoy $5 yoga class in one of the galleries from 6-7 pm, followed by 30 minutes of meditation. Held every Thursday in January and February. No registration required.
Splurge Option: Paddleboard Yoga! Pretend your on the lake with a Paddleboard Yoga class at Worthington Pools. Bring your own paddleboard, or rent one for $15. Classes fill up fast!