“Ottawa’s the city that fun forgot.”
– Someone who’s clearly never been to Ottawa.
Over the past 5 or so years, I’ve watched Ottawa’s fitness scene evolve into something truly spectacular. Being born, raised and now living as an adult here (with a short 3-year stint in Kingston for school), it’s safe to say I’m 1) Pretty attached and 2) A self-proclaimed Ottawa-expert.
So, I’ve decided to compile a list of what I like to think are the best-of-the-best that Ottawa has to offer for free outdoor group fitness activities.
(Photo courtesy of my Mumzie aka Sheilz aka Sheila Castledine)
I mean, I could hide this one at the end or try to somehow pop in in the middle all nonchalant, but let’s call a spade a spade: My best friend, Mary Anne, and I started this group 2 years ago and we’re damn proud of what it’s become!
Once a month during the spring, summer and fall, we post a Facebook event through our HikeAddicts page, where we announce the location, date and time of our upcoming group hike.
We try to keep the hikes relatively easy, however we have conquered some more challenging trails like Luskville Falls (Gatineau Park) and Mount Washington (New Hampshire).
Check out HikeAddicts.com for all your Gatineau Park and beyond hiking needs and join in on a free community hike. We’d love to meet you!
2) Ottawa City Run Club (OCRC)
(Photo courtesy of the OCRC Facebook page)
Oh hello there, fellow runners!
Looking for a fab group of humans (all of whom are lean, energetic and fast AF) to run with on Tuesday nights? Look no further!
Starting at the ever-so-sketchy Dundonald Park (it’s okay though because there are a TON of people who partake in this run so the sketchiness levels go way down), this group of runners aren’t messin’ around.
Yes, everyone there is very welcoming, but I’m here to give you a friendly yet real heads up that this is one quick group.
The runs are typically between 5 and 6 KMs long and they’re at a fast pace (side note: this group also runs on Wednesdays but those nights are specifically for the “fast runners”.)
I joined this group this past summer honestly without realizing they run all winter long, and continue to show up because I crave that addictive speed and group run energy.
Come run with us at Dundonald Park every Tuesday at 7:30 pm and join the OCRC Facebook group for all the updates and group pics.
3) Parliament Hill Yoga
(Photo courtesy of the PHY Facebook page)
This one’s a no-brainer for probably every single Ottawa native. We’ve all at least HEARD of it, right?
If you’re reading this and you’re living in Ottawa but have never gone to Parliament Hill Yoga, please do yourself a favour and friggin’ GO! Even if you don’t work close to downtown, allow yourself at least ONE long lunch (or, even better, take off an afternoon) and enjoy the beauty of this weekly workout.
Lululemon started PHY a few years back and it has grown into a MASSIVE event. I’ve gone many times (especially when I used to work right in the Byward Market) and have watched it grow.
If the weather’s nice, expect hundreds of people so I’d definitely advise getting there well before noon to snag a spot (parking AND for your mat).
Their Facebook page is the place to keep your finger on the pulse as they post weather updates, teacher bios and all the beautiful professional pics taken at each class.
(Photo courtesy of the Parliament Hill MoveCamp Facebook page)
Another weekly Parliament Hill lunch time workout, friends!
Grab a pal (or arrive solo – that’s cool too!), a yoga mat and a water bottle, and hit up the hill every Thursday at 12:15 in the summer months for an epic workout lead by some of the city’s most badass leaders in fitness.
Their motto? “This is not bootcamp.” (I’m super into this because I personally shrivel up in fear when I hear the word ‘bootcamp’.)
There’s nothing scary about this group, though. The energy and contagious enthusiasm of everyone that partakes will make you go week after week.
5) November Project
(Photo courtesy of the November Project Facebook page)
Non-early risers, look away!
Every Wednesday morning at 6:29 AM (yes, AM!), this group of nutty fitness friends get together for a quick ‘n dirty workout starting at the Centennial flame.
Full disclosure: I’ve never been, and my only excuse is that I’m nottttt a morning person, but from what I’ve seen on social media, it looks like a blast.
“Just show up” for a great workout, high fives from new friends and a 100% chance of leaving with a massive smile (too cheesy? Sorrynotsorry).
Once you follow November Project Ottawa on Instagram, you’ll totally see how I can tell that they have a wicked time working out together.
6) Lansdowne Stadium Workout
(Photo courtesy of the Lansdowne Stadium Workout Facebook page)
Goodlife started this free workout for the public in 2014, (you don’t have to be a member to partake) and it’s really formed into something cool.
The whole idea is that this workout is doable for any age and fitness level, it’s just whether or not you can make it out to Lansdowne on a Sunday morning for 6:55 AM. 😉
Every time I leave Local at Lansdowne late on a Saturday night, I make a mental note to set my alarm for the following morning (I’ll let you decide my odds on making it out…).
If you’re a morning workout kinda gal/guy, then make sure to like their NEW Facebook page and please don’t come after me if they make you run up and down the stairs, okay?
7) Trail Running (Bushtukah)
(Photo courtesy of the Bushtukah Stittsville Trail Running Facebook page)
When a friend of mine asked me to join her on one of these runs for the first time and sent me their page, I thought to myself: (as a Glebe-ite) “This is nice but I’m sure a sh*t not driving all the way to Stittsville bright and early on a Saturday morning.
Good news fellow East(ish)-enders: Most of their runs are in the Greenbelt area, close to Bells Corners. Totally doable.
Two summers I became completely addicted to going (almost) every single Saturday at 8:30 AM. As mentioned before, I’m not really an early morning workout kinda girl but there’s something about being surrounded by wonderful people while exploring the trails in Ottawa.
If you’re a runner but new to the group run scene, this is the group to join because they make stops to ensure no one’s lost and keep it at an easy-breezy pace.
Give them a like on Facebook to stay updated and social. 🙂
PS- In the winter time, this becomes a snowshoeing group!
I hope this post inspires you to check out at least one of these wonderful Ottawa outdoor fitness groups. This city really does have tons of offer; you’ve just gotta do a little exploring to find the best!