10 Super Fun Ways to Get Fit in L.A. Without Joining a Gym

Do you need a break from the sound of the squeaky hamster wheeled elliptical machine, the smell of chalky protein shakes, and the sight of roided up muscled men and women in tiny tank tops?

The hole in your jogging shorts pocket doesn’t make the gym a sweeter sell either.


Gym memberships cost anywhere from $35 to a whopping $100 a month when there’s many other great, cheaper, more innovative fitness options. There’s no excuse for not getting in shape, especially in sunny Los Angeles!

With that in mind, here’s 10 fun ways to get fit in L.A. without signing up for a traditional gym membership.

Feel the burn!

Runyon Canyon View
The view from Runyon Canyon. Credit: Jeff Gunn via flickr

1. Free Yoga

What’s better than meditating in downward dog in front of the Hollywood sign? The L.A. famous hiking spot Runyon Canyon offers free yoga sessions Monday through Sunday in the early morning and afternoon. Donations are accepted at Runyon Canyon YOGA, but this organization prides itself on being for the people and by the people of the Los Angeles community. Enter through the North Fuller Avenue and you’ll be sure to find other limber yogis.

If you’re afraid of the sunshine and critters, CorePower Yoga offers unlimited free classes for new students for a full week. Another option is Power Yoga: a donation based studio with a full schedule every day of the week, the suggestion of $16 per class. Namaste.

2. Hiking and Stairclimbing

Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park are worth checking out for a quick hike, but Los Angeles has even more to offer on the road less traveled. Los Liones Canyon is a scenic, not so rigorous 2.6 mile hike overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Topanga State Park area. With street parking available, its entrance is closed on the right side of the cul-de-sac at the end of Los Liones Drive. Temescal Canyon Gateway Park is another lovely hiking ground in the Pacific Palisades area. The 4-mile loop trail has various rest-stops overlooking the ocean and canyon and even a few waterfalls where you can cool off on hot days. There are more than a few parking lots and free street parking near the general vicinity of the park; it’s best to enter through the southwest end of Temescal Gateway Park along Sunset Boulevard. Check out our list of hikes in LA for more options.

[RELATED: 5 Hikes You Gotta Do Your First Year Living in L.A.]

If you’re more inclined to stay out of nature’s way, the Mattachine Steps, also known as the Hidden Stairways of Silver Lake, is a great spot to work those glutes. In this vicinity, there are more than ten different roads that connect to stairs. Another great spot is the historic Los Feliz Heights Steps located on Cromwell Avenue and Bonvue Avenue. Lined with brightly colored bougainvillea and vines, this staircase leads into Griffith Park after 463 steps. Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach is also a fun place to hit the stairs by the beach. For more staircases up your alley, see our list of secret staircases in Los Angeles.

Steps not your thing? The concrete jungle expands to Lake Balboa Park for a mellow walk or a game of golf and Studio City Recreation Center offers open play free tennis for any pairs who would like to partake in a match.

3. Surfing

What better way to lose 10 lbs than to hang 10 while you’re at it? For those who have never been on a board, Campsurf in Manhattan Beach, Go Surf LA in Santa Monica, and Los Angeles Surfing Lessons in Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara offer small group and private surf lessons at a reasonable prices.

If you’re already seasoned with experience, there’s a wide range of beaches to explore on your board. El Porto in El Segundo is a great launching point for beginners, Hermosa Beach Pier is a solid choices for all levels of surfers, and Sunset Beach off the Pacific Coast Highway brings in a big community of local surfers ranging in all kinds of experience as well.

Surfrider Surfing
Surfing at Surfrider Beach. Photo by Omar Laribi via flickr cc

4. Climbing

If you’re inspired to boulder, but a little intimidated after watching James Franco nurse his scabbing arm in 127 Hours, check out the Rockreation Sports Climbing Center in Los Angeles. With a vast amount of climbing terrain for veterans and newbies alike, the center is open to both children and adults. They offer one day visitor passes ($17 for adults; $12 for children) and discounted rental fees on equipment if you choose to become a member. Climbing classes and workshops are offered through the gym as well. Of course, many of the hiking spots mentioned above have climbing areas too, but why not get your feet wet in a fun, safe environment? On Belay!

[RELATED10 Secret (and Not-So Secret) L.A. Staircases That Are Totally Worth the Climb]

5. Bootcamps

Classes are great, but sometimes you need a hard-hitting instructor with kettlebells, battle ropes, slam balls, sandbags, and heavy resistance bands to keep you in check. Translation? Good news: Runyon Canyon is the mecca of free exercise classes. Starting off with a bang in March, Runyon Canyon Bootcamp leads donation-based classes on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00P to 1:00P off of North Fuller. If you’re looking for more frequently scheduled classes, Morning Crunch has programs in twelve different locations in Los Angeles. Selected the “Best Bootcamp in Los Angeles”, Bootcamp L.A. also offers a four-week challenging training program with classes in the early morning and evening.

6. Join a Fitness Inspired Meet-up Group

Some of us already know what we like, but need a little extra motivation from like-minded people to get going. Meet-Up offers an avenue for people to create new groups and join existing groups through this online forum, which is extremely active in the fitness realm of things. Some fun ones include Downtown LA Running Group for the morning runners, Yoga at Echo Park (YEP) for the weekend yogis, and Los Angeles Salsa Dancing Group for salsa dancers at all levels.



7. Join a Team

We all get by with a little help from our friends- especially when we’re playing our favorite games from elementary school recess and burning calories at the same time! The World Dodgeball Society boasts eleven different leagues in the Los Angeles area for weekly co-ed and single sex dodgeball matches. If dodgeball isn’t your thing, WAKA Kickball & Social Sports offers fourteen leagues in Los Angeles for weekly co-ed kickball matches. Both organizations hold tournaments in Las Vegas and also host local social events to build camaraderie amongst the players.

8. Dancing

You don’t have to be Channing Tatum to dance like a star. For more of Channing’s Step Up vibe, Groov3  offers one-hour exhilarating, high-energy, cardio funk classes that range from $10-$17 a pop at fitness centers and dance studios all over the Los Angeles area. Dance instructors are matched with a live DJ at every class, which makes fitness feel like you’re “in da club”. In Sam Allen‘s Wednesday 8:35P session with DJ Stereothief at LA DanceFit in West L.A., you can easily ditch “the bottle full of bub” because you’re having fun regardless.

[RELATED9 Places Where You Can Go to Learn Unusual Skills in Los Angeles]

If you’re channeling Channing in Magic Mike instead, Allure Dance & Fitness Studio takes fitness to a whole new level: pole dancing. Nicole Williams (Nicole “ThePole”) founded the studio in 2008 with the vision of pole dancing as a powerful movement for women and fitness. With free first-time demos, package discounts, and classes ranging from $10 to $15 every day of the week, prepare to have your upper body and core sculpted and sore after an one-hour on the pole.

With classes at 13 different locations in the Los Angeles and beach cities areas, Pop Physique is another awesome, rhythmic option that marries Pilates with ballet.

9. Class Pass

Think of it like a Fast Pass to the front of the line for all the best rides at Disneyland or the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Class Pass allows for you to take unlimited group fitness classes with simply a monthly membership. The rules are simple: you can take as many classes are you want a month and up to three classes from the same studio. Don’t let the $99 monthly fee scare you away: you’ll have hundreds of classes to choose from including cycling, pilates, barre, strength training, dance, yoga, bootcamps, and much more. Sometimes it’s great to have the fast pass or golden ticket because working out anywhere and everywhere has mass appeal.


10. Sweat Lodges

Sweating out toxins is another means of losing weight and improving cardio fitness when you don’t feel up to moving those tired muscles. Los Angeles is big on this relatively new “sweating” trend. Shape House is specifically a spa for sweating that claims you can sweat away your stress and weight, improve your sleep habits, and clear up your skin after a 50-minute session. At $45 a pop, it’s more of a luxury than a necessity for the average Los Angeleno: you’re wrapped like a burrito in a heated-blanket with open access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO GO while you sweat away up to 1,200 calories per session.

Firm Body Evolution is another weight loss spa with experimental workout alternatives like their Infrared Jade Sauna, the 10/20/30 method, and a Whole Body Vibration Machine. An explanation of their programs will not do it justice, see for yourself!

Other Ideas…

Still thirsty for a few other creative ways to break a sweat in L.A.? Check out Boxing at Wild Card with the talented Pepe Reilly (first class is free!), Foxy Fierce Women’s Kickboxing Bootcamp at Siedo Karate Hollywood Dojo (first class is free!),  Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, Cardio Barre, Fire Dancing and Belly Dancing classes at Fire Groove, and Trapeze and Aerial Skills Classes at Cirque School LA.

Whatever your preference, there’s always fun and unique ways to stay in shape in the city of angels. What’s yours?


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