In June, I took the plunge and made the big move from my parents’ house in Baltimore County to a lovely row house in Canton. The main reason that I wanted to move to this area of Baltimore City is the vibrant, youthful atmosphere. There are always a ton of things to do and interesting people to meet. However, the major downside of moving out (besides missing my cuddly cat) is paying bills. Who knew there were so many things to pay for? It’s been almost two months since I moved and although the gym has always been my happy place, I’ve challenged myself to go without a membership in an attempt to give myself time to acclimate, save money and get outside to exercise.
Without a gym to retreat to, I have started immersed myself in the Baltimore fitness and running community. Connecting with other like-minded individuals in the health and wellness space has been incredible and getting outside to workout has really allowed me to explore my new city. Between meeting new people and getting outside the gym, using exercise has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my new Canton Casa. Here are my top tips for doing the same when you move to a new city or if you want to be more involved in the fitness community where you live now.
1.Run (Or Walk) Around Town
This is definitely my number one tip. All you need to do is step outside your front door and put one foot in front of the other; it’s super simple and completely free! This is the absolute best way to get to know your new surrounding streets, find cute coffee shops and scout out the best places to park. I am horrible with directions and easily get lost without my GPS so it has been really helpful to become more familiar with the streets in my neighborhood by running them. Now I have a better feel for which streets are one-way, which ones are super narrow, etc. No promises that I’ll stop getting lost but it certainly makes navigating the city a little easier!
Also, you really notice more when you are on foot than when you are behind the wheel. On my runs, I take note of the shops and restaurants that I want to visit and love looking at the interesting houses and plants that I see on my way. Additionally, as I get to know more people in the area, it’s always fun to bump into runners and walkers who I know, which bring me to my next tip…
2. Meet Up With Local Groups
There are so many different fitness groups out there and joining one (or two or three) is the perfect way to get your workout in for the day while having social time with people who are interested in at least one of the same things that you are – working out! If you haven’t seen it on Instagram yet, my fellow Baltimore blogger babes, Tina Milnes of Blonde Beet Nirvana and Ashley Weaver of Eucalyptus Dreams, and I have been exploring out-of-the-box ways to move our bodies. We call it #experimentalexercise and we are challenging ourselves and all of you to do something different with exercise and explore different creative options of movement – whether it be learning to salsa dance or try the newest fitness class trend. Please tag #experimentalexercise when you share your own exercise explorations on Instagram so we can check out your experiences!
This month we joined November Project Baltimore for a Wednesday morning workout at Rash Field, a local downtown spot with stadium style seating and a stage surrounding volleyball courts. The whole point of November Project is to provide a fun, free, social way to workout outside of a gym – a mission that aligns perfectly with what I have been trying to do these past few months.
The day we attended November Project together was “PR day” which we quickly learned is a special workout that occurs the last Wednesday of every month. PR Day involves trying to complete as many laps around Rash Field as you can, with burpees and stadium stair climbing as a part of each lap. As we completed each lap (burpees –> running –> stair sets), we collected a rubber band to mark our progress. I was pretty proud of my 7.1 score for my first go as this included me having to kick into sprint mode at the end to make it half way around the field with less than a minute left to achieve the last .1 (my fellow Baltimore NPers will understand this feat).
The energy at group is incredible. Everyone is positive and happy to be there (keep in mind that this is at 6:30am). It is the kind of group that encourages approaching (and high fiving and hugging) people who you don’t know, which is totally what I love. I have been a few times by myself as well and every time, I meet a few new friendly faces. There is something about sweating alongside someone that makes you connect with them quite easily.
3. Rise And Shine
These past two weeks I set my alarm for 5am on weekdays and 6am on the weekends. I plan to continue this, as it turns out – I surprisingly dig the early rise and grind. The early wake up call allows me to run as soon as I roll out of bed and somewhat beat the summer heat, but it’s also a great time of day to experience Baltimore. The city is just waking up but there is still a lot of activity. It seems that the earlier I run, the more fellow runners and walkers I see on my route. Being out and about at this early makes me really feel like I am a part of the city, plus it’s easier to take my time to navigate the streets without a lot of traffic. And a few mid-run sunrise views along the water don’t hurt.
Use your mornings to explore! Take a run, walk to your favorite coffee shop or get lost on your bike. Having a little extra time will allow you to wander without racing back to your house to get to work/school/your next destination. Utilize an early alarm to make the most of your mornings and you won’t regret it! You will learn a lot of about your city when you’re hitting the pavement at 5:30am.
4. Take Advantage of Free Fitness
Be on the lookout for free workout classes or group run opportunities near you. In Baltimore, it seems like there is always some sort of fun run or special yoga event that is going on, so there are lots chances to workout for free! Some days, there is more than one fitness event that I want to attend at the same time. Summer is also a great time to find free fitness opportunities taking place outside.
And in addition to free fitness meet-ups, most studios and gyms offer a free fitness class or a free week so use that to your advantage and shop around! Figure out what you like best before you join and in the mean time, enjoy trying a bunch of different ways to exercise. Plus, you’ll continue to meet other people who also enjoy working out. If you are local to the Baltimore area, here are a few of my favorite free or donation-based fitness opportunities:
- No Meat Athlete Baltimore Group Runs – There are chapters across the country but if you live in Baltimore, you can request to join the Facebook group to get details on upcoming runs. Each run is always followed by a great vegan meal at a local restaurant and you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to join the fun! This is a great example of how you can find groups that align with more than one of your interests – for me this is great combination of running and #veganvibes.
- Pop Up Baltimore Yoga – These donation-based outdoor yoga classes take place once in a week in the Canton area. I had never tried outdoor yoga before these classes and it was a total game changer! It’s much more comfortable if you sweat a lot like me and it feels incredible to soak up the sun while you flow.
- Sunday Night Vibez – I just attended my first class last weekend and it was great! Every Sunday night, Movement Lab hosts a free yoga class with a different instructor, then afterwards there are drink specials downstairs at R House! It’s the perfect to wind down (and then wine down) your weekend.
- Charm City Run Thursday Night Runs – Meet at Charm City Run Locust Point in McHenry Row every Thursday at 6:30pm for a recreational 3-5 miles before enjoying a free beer at World of Beer. These runs are great for getting in a few extra easy, social miles in for the week and who doesn’t love a free drink? Casual running groups are the perfect way to meet people in your new city.
- Charm City Run Shake Shack Runs – Similar to the Thursday night runs, the Shake Shack Track & Field runs take place every second Tuesday of the month. Clubs all over the country meet to run 3-5 miles and then end at the Shack for a free drink. Starting to see a theme? Runners tend to like to drink after said running is done.
Plus, if you live locally, you can sweat with me (for free!) every Monday night at my summer speed track workouts with Charm City Run. All levels are welcome and I can promise you that we have a ton of fun!
5. Do Your Social Media Research
The best way to find others involved in the health and fitness industry, free fitness opportunities and cool spots to workout in your area is to hop on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! Allow yourself to fall down that dark hole where one hashtag leads to another and soon you’ve found a coffee shop you want to visit, someone you want to be your BFF IRL and a yoga studio you want to join. I have found so many of previously mentioned groups, opportunities and people by friending people on Instagram or digging around on Facebook to find events in my area.
Great example of this actually working – my friend Casey found a local running group on Instagram called the Faster Bastards and immediately encouraged a group of our friends to join them on their weekly Saturday morning long run. Although I was super skeptical and nervous about running with a new group, I now look forward to running “the usual 10” around the Harbor with the Faster Bastards every Saturday that I’m not working. Even better – I know live a quarter-mile from the meeting spot! Moral of the story – don’t be afraid to take chances and use social media to your advantage.
A few more specific ways to tackle this tip are:
- Search for fitness events in your area on Facebook
- Look at what people in your area are posting on Instagram
- Friend local influencers in the health/fitness industry
- Follow local running stores (hint hint, Charm City Run if you live in Baltimore)
- Read blogs of local runners and fitness gurus
You will soon be finding lots of hidden gems!
Whether you just moved like me, or you are just interested in re-discovering your city or town, I hope these tips help you use exercise to meet new people, explore the area and feel more comfortable where you are living. Remember to tag your fitness photos with #experimentalexercise when you step outside your comfort zone and try a new way of working out! I can’t wait to see what you do!
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What’s your favorite way to get moving in your area? And what is the most out-of-the-box way you have exercised? Additionally, any recommendations for our next #experimentalexercise are welcome! I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.