9 Places to Get Fit in SF That Are Not Boring, Overcrowded Gyms

Suitable whether you want to burn 1,000 calories or take a (restorative) nap

house of air
The treadmill at the gym could never.

We’re about a week into January, which means those resolutions have had time to settle.

We’re betting you still want to finish 2020 fitter, stronger and faster than you’re starting it — but might not know where to start. Or, indeed, might be starting out the year with an injury, a period of inactivity, or just plain old fatigue. Rest assured: There’s more to the S.F. fitness scene than the (innumerable) Pilates/core/barre/Soulcycle classes. 

Here, we’ve ranked our favorite workouts in S.F. — from a walk in the park (literally) to our favorite boot-camp-style barnburner. 

Holistic Chamber of Sound

In brief: In our experience, nothing is as restoratively relaxing as a well-done sound bath. Problem is: The well-done ones are hard to find, and here, they sell out quick. So set up a reminder for the next one hosted by Sound Meditation SF at the Cathedral of St. Mary, which goes on sale Wednesday. 


Therapeutic Yoga at Yoga Tree with Raquel Scanlon

In brief: If, like your correspondent, you’re currently nursing an injury, get in some non-harming movement and build a sound foundation for a progressively more active year. (Scanlon is also available for private sessions if you’re looking for a customized recovery plan.) 

Flexibility & Contortion

In brief: Speaking of injuries, flexibility training is, in many cases, just what the doctor ordered. (Though, uh, check with yours?) This option — at the Circus Center — is particularly worth seeking out, because it has a higher ceiling than most. Here, you’re aiming not just for increased mobility but, eventually, contortion(!) skills. 

East Bay Casual Hikers

In brief: Join a motley group of hikers (“our membership is diverse, not only in terms of hiking ability, but also in age”; if you can both drink alcohol legally and walk, you’re good) on hikes around the East Bay. This morning’s hike was a 6-mile or 8.25-mile tour of the Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve in Danville. 


Dancing: Pop at Uforia

In brief: Uforia has a full spin schedule, but what we like here are the “all levels welcome” dance classes, to hip-hop and pop soundtracks. (Think a less suburban Zumba.) 

Orienteering in Napa

In brief: Use that brain along with your body as you navigate between check-in points along a mile-plus orienteering course. (The instructions for these events always make them sound more complicated than they are.) You can also try Napa Valley Go!, which comes to various open spaces this weekend, including Cal State Maritime and Silverado Middle School. 

KB Leg and Core at Swing Kettlebell School

In brief: Feeling a little loose in the cage? Tighten up that core but quick with not only squats and lunges but bodyweight exercises and agility practice — all using kettlebells. 


Ski/Snowboard Session at House of Air

In brief: If you’re not scared of putting some space between you and the ground, sign up for the House of Air’s trampoline-centric training sessions. Some classes are geared toward skiers and snowboarders looking to fly. (P.S.: This class ranks at the upper end in terms of difficulty because we are, indeed, scared of putting some space between us and the ground. If you’re good with a trampoline, adjust accordingly.) 

Armand at Barry’s Bootcamp

In brief: Our favorite instructor at Barry’s (which, P.S. now has locations as far-flung as Qatar and Singapore). You know the (literal) drill: Burn over 1,000 calories with a mix of cardio and strength training. Armand keeps the intensity high while not completely checking his sense of humor at the door.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.