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Cheap Exercise 

These plans will give you (but not your wallet) a workout

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Highly rec'd

  • The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission's (NORDC) Fit NOLA Parks program offers free, all-ages exercise classes at parks across the city. Check for the summer schedule, which includes activities like dance, hula hooping and fitness boot camp at six different parks. Also look for amenities offered year-round at NORDC recreation centers; most have indoor basketball courts and some have pools, exercise equipment and fitness and dance classes.

Balling out

  • NORDC is also a great resource for bargain tennis court time. Uptown's Atkinson Stern Tennis Center (4025 S. Saratoga St., 504-658-3060) and Joe W. Brown Recreation Center (5601 Read Boulevard, 504-658-3080) in New Orleans East offer courts for $7 per hour. Weekday daytime tennis is $5 per hour.

  • Mid-City Volleyball ( organizes doubles and quads games on Bayou St. John across from the post office on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Pickup games are free, and tournament play costs $5.


  • Running outside is always free, but it's more fun with a group. The November Project ( is a national network of workout clubs whose motto is "just show up." You can catch the New Orleans group doing early-morning stair repeats at the Superdome and pushups at the lakefront. Local athletic outfitters Varsity Sports (3450 Magazine St., 504-899-4144; and Louisiana Running Company (4153 Canal St., 504-304-4762; also sponsor popular running clubs that are open to all.

  • If you yearn to pin on a numbered bib, the New Orleans Track Club ( sponsors a "Summer Series" of 2-mile races at the City Park Festival Grounds that are just $5 for non-members. Upcoming dates are June 24, July 8 and July 22 at 7 p.m.

Yoga for pennies

  • You may already have cashed in on the new-student special, but most yoga studios hold at least one weekly "community class." These are offered on a sliding scale, usually starting between $5-$8. Swan River's Arabi location (7011 St. Claude Ave., Suite 213, Arabi, 985-240-9384; runs on a unique model where all classes are donation-based. Check studio websites for schedules, suggested costs and whether you'll need to bring your own mat.

  • Athletic apparel brand Lululemon sponsors an occasional series of free yoga classes at public places like Audubon Park and St. Roch Market. There are classes at 7 p.m. Tuesdays through July 7 at NOLA Brewing (3001 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-301-0117; Check for future events. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Jazz National Historical Park also hold free or inexpensive weekly classes. Free Tuesday evening yoga classes at Propeller (4035 Washington Ave. Suite 105, 504-322-3282; even provide mats.

Roll with it

  • You may be familiar with NOLA Social Ride's casual cruise-and-booze Thursday bike rides, but Wednesdays take a more vigorous pace. The "Rabid Ride" aims to be challenging, yet not out of reach for beginners. Check for upcoming rides.


  • If you do prefer to sweat it out in front of the TV or computer, you don't need a personal collection of workout tapes or a subscription to a premium fitness channel. The New Orleans Public Library offers fitness DVDs in everything from tai chi to strength training to hip-hop. You can check out workouts from celebrity trainers like Jillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson, or stream yoga and other routines (see "Cheap Streaming, p. 23). There's even a five-disc set of Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies.

— For more cheap and fun fitness activities, check Anna Gaca's "New Orleans Exercist" column, posted every Friday afternoon at

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