By: Camille Barron
One of my favorite things about living in Nashville are all of the free community fitness activities available. When I moved here, I was able to participate in as many activities as possible. I learned new skills and made new friends without having to break the bank to do it.
Below are what I consider to be the top three workouts offered in town. The great thing about all of these workouts - besides being completely free - are that they welcome all stages of fitness, age, and experience. Their welcoming environments encourage improvement and foster positivity among all of the participants.
The East Nasties
If you’re hanging around Five Points on a Wednesday evening, you’ll no doubt bear witness to the horde of East Nasty runners. This free running club has been hosted every Wednesday evening for nearly ten years (regardless of weather conditions).
The group has run routes through all of the best areas east of the Cumberland River since 2008 (think Shelby Park, Lockeland Springs, Nissan Stadium) - earning the name “The East Nasty Running Club,” or simply, “The East Nasties,” for short.
Wednesday runs yield anywhere from 30-100+ runners. Members are welcome to bring their dogs, their children, or their friends. There is also a “Lasty Nasties” group for slower runners that leaves at 5:45pm before the main group.
Their mission statement meshes the physical fitness aspect of the activity with the friendliness of the neighborhood: “We exist to make East Nashville a great place to live and run, and to make running accessible to everyone in our community.”
There are no shortage of opportunities to make new friends running with East Nasty. Prior to the start of each run, the organizers ask everyone in the crowd to introduce themselves to someone new. And, for those who like their workouts to yield a reward, the group congregates at 3 Crow Bar post-run to enjoy 2-for-1 specials on beers.
The Capitol Steps Workout
Five years ago in 2012, James Crumlin was training for the Country Music Marathon. He’d been running that marathon since 2003, but always found himself training for it at the eleventh hour. That year, he trained with a friend on the steps of the Nashville Capitol.
For those unfamiliar with the Nashville Capitol, the building sits atop a the tallest hill in the central city and features several staircases on all sides. It also faces the 19-acre Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park which has a walking/jogging path stretching between James Robertson Parkway and Jefferson Street.
Impressed with James’ progress, some of his friends joined him in running the steps. Then their friends. Word continued to spread, and the Capitol Steps workout was born.
On Mondays at Thursdays at 6pm, weather permitting, you can join James and his friends on the steps of the Capitol. James will arrange a series of exercises similar to a boot camp for the group to accomplish individually - uphill sprints, lunges, burpees, planks, and of course, stair runs.
While the group has grown over the past five years, James still keeps the workout free as a way to give back to the community. He shares his motivational spirit, encouraging others to succeed. The generosity is palpable, as seasoned members pass that spirit and encouragement onto newer participants, and so on.
When I asked James what the Capitol Steps was all about, he told me, “It’s an awesome workout where everyone encourages each other. Everyone of all fitness levels is welcome. Capitol Steps is an avenue for people to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves.”
Small World Yoga
The physical and mental health benefits of yoga have long been revered. Improved strength, balance, and posture are some of the more obvious benefits, but yoga is also known to contribute to stress management and lower blood pressure. The teachings of yoga encourage practitioners to go at their own pace, making it an acceptable form of exercise for nearly everyone.
Though the practice of yoga is beneficial for almost anyone, not everyone has access to it. Costs of classes can add up, and studios often have limited space.
Small World Yoga aims to bring yoga to all types of communities by offering completely free classes. The locations and instructors vary, making the many benefits of yoga accessible to anyone and everyone in Nashville.
Liz Veyhl, Small World Yoga’s founder, describes the organization as follows:
“Small World Yoga meets many critical needs in this community. One of the most important is, we are creating access for people who otherwise don’t have the ability to find yoga. What yoga has the ability to do is to inspire hope and change. And, it gives people the opportunity to think that they too can create whatever they want in their life.”
You can view their available community classes here*. As the site indicates, all ages and ability levels are welcome!
*All classes are free, but donations to the organization can be made at https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr.
Camille Barron is a 25 year old Nashville transplant from New York. By day, she is a Social Media Consultant with the Nashville-based social media marketing startup, JumpCrew. By day, she also blogs about minimalist, conscious fashion at serialoutfitrepeater.com. Follow her on Instagram @serialoutfitrepeater.
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