Free Fitness Weekends in South Bay beach cities aim to spark activity

Take your friend along to a workout in the South Bay during Free Fitness Weekends

What keeps you from trying that workout class? Is it the cost? Intimidated by trying something new? Reluctant to go without a friend?

Sorry, those excuses just fell by the wayside. For the first weekends of April and May, classes in half the studios in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach are free. As in, just give it a try. Maybe you will hate it, but maybe you — and the friend you dragged along — will love it.

Yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training and other classes are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

More than 300 people turned out the first weekend of the free classes in February. Participants don't have to live in any particular community.

The free workouts are organized by Beach Cities Health District, a public, preventive health agency in the three beach communities that offers health and wellness programs, runs fitness centers and has other projects.

Dr. Lisa Santora, chief medical officer for the district, said she was inspired by a program in New York City called Sweaty Saturday that aimed to get people to try fitness classes.

Free Fitness Weekends aims to do that, as well as to build "connectedness in our communities," Santora said.

Many people are not exercising enough, or vigorously enough, to keep themselves healthy, but they're afraid to try something new and are worried about committing to classes they might not like, she said. Classes such as Bionic Body or Bag of Tricks or Family Primal Fitness might sound intimidating, but if it's free, someone might go anyway.

And the hope is that people will feel welcome enough to stay.

Some classes require registration; others don't. The schedule is at

The Beach Cities Health District also has a Summer Fitness Series that's free and open to the public. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and includes yoga on the beach, and Zumba and boot camp in a park. More than 10,000 people have participated in the last three years, Eric Garner, a spokesman for the health district, said. The schedule is at the same website as the weekend classes.

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