There’s an “om” looming over Atlanta.
The past four years have brought a health and wellness boom to the metro-area that has resulted in a number of opportunities for locals to get fit. Retail centers, hotels, specialty stores and even the Atlanta Beltline, have created partnerships to offer area residents yoga, cycling, barre and other fitness programs free of charge. Many of these events take place outdoors to capitalize on Atlanta’s mild weather, while also building a stronger feeling of community.
In 2011, Atlantic Station launched its Wellness Wednesdays program after feedback on social media indicated visitors were interested in health and wellness experiences, said Liz Gillespie, vice president of marketing for North American Properties, developers of Atlantic Station and Avalon in Alpharetta.
Wellness Wednesdays offers free yoga in Atlantic Station’s Central Park and it taught by instructors from exhale spa. The event is also produced in conjunction with Athleta, a women’s fitness brand which offers its own free in-store fitness classes each Saturday.
“We have these wonderful areas around the property that are designed for gathering and creating a sense of community and we look for opportunities to activate those,” Gillespie said.
Atlantic Station had always hosted walks and runs on the property, she said, but those events happen once a year and Gillespie said they wanted to create something where people could come every week and meet with their friends while getting fit.
Each week, the grass in Central Park becomes a quilt of yoga mats as 60 – 80 people claim a space, Gillespie says. If it rains, the fun is moved indoors to Athleta, with a smaller crowd.
Leigh Mallis, co-founder of Atlanta on the Path (with Kem Lee) says Atlanta has matured quite a bit in its health and wellness offerings.
“(Atlantans) are seeking a more integrative and collaborative approach to their wellness. They are seeking more than just a single discipline to stay within their health,” she says.
As a result, the offerings continue to grow. The first Wigwam Wellness Festival kicked off last Sunday at Chattahoochee Nature Center. The event brings together fitness instructors and health experts in a range of categories to help attendees discover new strategies for their well-being.
The four-week series takes place every Sunday from April 12 – May 3 and features live music and pop-up markets. While the event isn’t free — daily tickets start at $69 and series tickets start at $279 — attendees are able to participate in a full-day of events.
Fitness, says Mallis, isn’t just about going to a gym anymore. “It is the experience as a whole and people wanting more mind-body connection.”
The Wigwam Wellness Festival is a great example of creating a community around fitness, as is the series of free fitness classes on the Beltline which have been offered since winter 2013. This year, classes include, yoga, cycling, self-defense, adult swimming and more.
“Providing the free experience takes away a little of the hesitation of people who aren’t sure they want to commit,” Mallis says. “They can show up and just have an experience.”
Ready to experience all that Atlanta’s fitness community has to offer?
Here’s a guide to upcoming outdoor fitness events:
The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership: Free fitness classes this season include old favorites such as Walk and Talk with a Doc and FitWit, as well as new additions like adult swimming, self-defense, and Barre3. The classes are free but you do have to register at beltline.org/fitsignup. Days, times and locations vary.
Atlantic Station Wellness Wednesdays: Yoga classes are offered each Wednesday from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. now through the end of September. The class is free and takes place outdoors in Central Park. In the event of rain, it moves indoors to Athleta (with limited capacity).
Avalon AvalOM: Free wellness classes take place in the Plaza each Thursday from 6 – 7 p.m. Classes will include yoga, barre, adventure runs and more in conjunction with Avalon’s health and wellness brands such as exhale, Flywheel Sports and Lululemon. On May 9, Avalon plays host to the Sweet Tea Yoga Festival, a day filled with yoga and fitness classes, music and other events. Tickets range from $20 (individual classes) to $100 for an all day, all event pass. Kiddie yoga from 9 – 10 a.m. is free and open to the public. For tickets visit atlanta.eventful.com.
Pink Barre: Pink Barre hosts “Barre in the Park” sessions at its Emory Point and Buckhead locations. The next session is Saturday, April 18 from 2:30 to 3:30 pm on the roof of the Chastain Tennis Center. Bring your own yoga mat and register at www.pink-barre.com/buckhead. Also look for upcoming free classes at Heritage Park in Sandy Springs.
Sweet Escape Yoga Classes: Kristen Leigh offers free outdoor yoga classes in Metro Atlanta parks or galleries. Classes take place at locations in Midtown, Buckhead, Smyrna, Vinings, and Marietta. The next class is 10 – 11 a.m., Saturday, May 2 at Tanyard Creek Park / Louise G. Howard Park on Collier Road. Visit www.sweetescapeyoga.com for details. There is no fee, but donations are accepted.
W Atlanta Buckhead What the Tuck: Starting April 16 and continuing each third Thursday of the month from 6:30 – 7: 30 p.m. through Sept. 17, join the ladies of Pink Barre for a free poolside barre series. Make a reservation at www.watlantabuckhead.com/barre and bring your own yoga mat. Towels and water provided. Valet parking is $6.
Wanderlust 108: A Mindful Triathlon: On Oct. 4, from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., join this “Mindful Triathalon” which features a 5K (ish) run, a 90-minute yoga class and 15 minutes of silent meditation. There is also live music, vendors, and more. It takes place in Piedmont Park. Tickets are $35 (plus $2.80 tax) and will start to increase on May 27.
Wigwam Wellness Festival: Each Sunday from April 12 – May 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., you can join this event for a range of wellness and fitness opportunities. Tickets are $84 for one day and $120 for a festival pass. When you buy a ticket, you sign up for four one-hour sessions of your choice.
Yogathon with Atlanta Women’s Foundation: Combine fitness and fundraising at this June 6 event which takes place in Centennial Olympic Park. You can register and create teams as you would for a walk or run, but you’ll spend four hours doing yoga in the park. It costs $200 to participate and during breaks you have a chance to visit a sponsor expo featuring health and fitness goodies.